Ātete | Resistance | ചെറുത്തുനില്പ് is a solo dance theatre piece choreographed by Swaroopa Prameela Unni exploring a woman’s right to bodily autonomy within the Indian community of New Zealand. The piece is choreographed in Mohiniyattam, a South Indian Dance form, known for its portrayal of ideal womanhood. Ātete uses spoken words, movements and digital media to narrate the stories of women who resisted against the system. ചെറുത്തുനില്പ് (cheruthunilpu) means resistance in Malayalam, the language spoken mainly in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
The instinct when trying to write about We’ve Got So Much To Talk About is to list things. List superlatives: exceptional, transcendent, theatre of the highest calibre. List things that the show is about: motherhood, identity, purpose, submission, autonomy. List things that it made me feel: thrilled, sad, moved, inspired, appreciative, reflective. But the problem is that listing things only scratches the surface. It gives you a little insight into the scale of the piece, its content, and overall effect, but not how it achieves any of this. And the how here is the extraordinary thing. The execution of We’ve Got So Much To Talk About is where the magic trick lies and like any good magic trick, it’s a mission to reverse engineer.
Andrea Kelland is a pro. She’s performed in every possible medium, in every possible context, in most possible places, over the past forty years. She’s travelled the world and done children's theatre, mime, street theatre, Shakespeare, feminist theatre, queer theatre, television, films, and commercials. She has lived a capital L Life, and the promise of the show is that we’ll get a glimpse into that. We’ll get to hear some of the best stories, put together a picture of who Kelland is, and discover what a life spent as an actor looks like.
HATCH is a fantastic initiative. Originating in 2019, along with the rest of the TAHI festival, this polylogue-based-showcase of emerging talent has a spectacular track record. With artists from previous years including Viki Moananu (ADAM Award for Best Pasifika Play 2023), Teherenui Koteka (BATS Pasifika Producer Residency), and Jeremy Hunt (Ted Talks Crimes), it’s clear that producer Sally Richards and her facilitators (previously Olivia Flanagan, now Emma Katene) have a great eye for new voices. Pulling three students from Te Auaha, two from Toi Whakaari, and one from Te Herenga Waka, HATCH feels like a city wide who's who of new talent.
The ABBA-inspired jukebox musical Mamma Mia! needs no introduction, but provides a worthy and joyous platform to introduce Whitireia’s Musical Theatre students to Wellington audiences. This is the programme’s full-scale production for the year, and with the support of program staff and industry pros, these emerging performers knock it out of the freaking park and gift me a contender for the most fun I’ve had at a show this year!
This time last year, A Mulled Whine brought Gary Henderson’s Skin Tight back to Circa. It remained provocative, moving, and thrilling. It felt fresh. Soon afterwards, Jacob Rajan and Indian Ink took Krishnan’s Dairy to Soundings, and again, it sung. The heartbreaking and shocking final minutes of the play couldn’t have felt more relevant to the moment. Over two decades after their conception, Aotearoa’s now-classic plays of the 90s prove that despite how much we’ve changed as a nation, there’s some dark truths that remain the same. Unfortunately, this could not be more true of Tahi’s revival of Verbatim, which feels like it was conceived yesterday as a response to our impending election.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Humour and pathos collide in this blackly funny odyssey from trailblazing theatre creators Nightsong (Mr Red Light, Te Pō, The Worm), starring theatre greats Jennifer Ludlam and Joel Tobeck.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Performed as part of Kia Mau Festival 2023, ‘Flames’ is an innovative fusion of theatre, musical theatre and hip-hop music presented through a detective drama with Aotearoa flavour. Kia Mau Live Performance Season is a high calibre digital theatre experience showcasing some of the best mana whenua, tangata whenua and tangata moana artists.
The TAHI Festival opened with a bang on Tuesday with the premiere of ONO. ONO is a new work commissioned for TAHI that’s made up of 6 monologues by māori and pacifka playwrights that celebrate aroha/alofa, or love. These authors began workshopping these pieces way back in December, and I’m lucky enough to have a quick kōrero with one of the co-directors before the show to catch a glimpse into the process that went into this. Knowing how a piece came to be is always so exciting for me, knowing how the sausage is made makes it all the more tasty. This collection of monologues not only celebrates aroha as a whole, but the aroha of collaboration, listening, and sharing stories.
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