Taku Rua

This is a site specific devised show by performers and designers currently studying at Toi Whakaari. They are given a location, asked to investigate it and create a performance piece relating to it. This year they were given Toi Poneke on Abel Smith street. I didn’t get a programme (they were koha and I only had 30 cents) so I can’t tell you the names of the four pieces. (In fact, my take-away from each of the pieces may be incorrect because I don’t have the details.)
The first one looked at the history of the building when it was being used as the Wellington Education Board HQ. The performers split us into three groups and took us around the space, up the stairs, back down the stairs etc. There were nice interactions between group leaders as we met on the stairs. This piece was the most demanding of the audience as some of us were given characters to play – Jeff, Gordon, Rose – and we were asked questions. There were also three different eras playing out so we had to pay attention!
The second piece was in the airbridge which connects the two buildings that make up Toi Poneke. It was a complete change from the first one. That was busy with lots of talking, bright lights etc. This was dimly lit inside the bridge. The focus was on the houses and lights outside. Three women abstractly describe the history of Te Aro – how the community felt, what they did. It was very effective. The third piece focused on the artists using the space – their process (from verbatim interviews I think complete with ums and ahs), the art, the political environent they work in and what they do. Interspersed with those words were some from John Key and some environmental statistics and words. (Not sure if they were verbatim as well.) The other actors made sounds and used different physical attributes for their characters. (I think one was based on a chicken and the other on a hedgehog.)
The fourth piece was about the public face of Toi Poneke. There were representations of an artist, a courier, people who go to the exhibitions and (I think) a couple of people who were looking to use the space. Much of the piece was in silence. The story was told through movement. Even when words were said they were often used as a counterpoint and beat for the actors to work off. It ends very effectively but to tell you would ruin the effect.
The performers invite the audience to stay and chat after the show. I found it quite awkward as the four performance were quite different and therefore difficult to process quickly. The performance is about an hour long and there are two per night. Each one has given me something to think about plus stand alone images to remember. None felt like it was part of a longer piece – they were all complete stories.

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