In three days I have been to two shows which take a look at societal challenges in New Zealand. One day Moko (homelessness) and The prospect (poverty, gangs). I'm calling it socially conscious theatre, and these examples are excellent. If I had time I would jump at the chance to see them again without hesitation.
One day Moko
A solo performance by Tim Carlsen, directed by Sophie Roberts. Essentially it follows Moko through a typical day in his life. He is homeless. Then one day, everything changes… Unfortunately I didn't see any programmes so I'm not sure of all the people involved (Theatreview tells me
– A/V Edit by Daniel McEwan and Joe Newman; Lighting Design by Jennifer Lal, but there may be more people involved.)?? Carlsen has sharp physicality which plays the sloppy character out nicely. He is all awkward angles – sharp wrists, tilted head, mouth askew. This combines with the hard edges of the machines used in the show (an old TV, a video player (DVD?), a cassette player) to contrast the human and societal construct that Moko finds himself in.
A ceramic tumbler with a fracture.
A new play by Maraea Rakuraku, directed by first time (stage) director Tammy Davis. Rakuraku wrote it to "understand why gangs are such a present, violent and traumatic part of my life and that, of the community that I come from.
" The dialogue is natural, casual, funny, and heartbreaking. There's probably space for edits to tighten up the dramatic tension but overall it is a powerful piece of work which was compellingly staged in the premiere season at the Gryphon Theatre. The lighting (Laurie Dean), sound (Karnan Saba), design (Wai Mihinui, Jaimee Warda), and music (Rawiri and Joseph Hirini) were there in support of the story in a way that flowed with the scenes.
Some of the scenes will stay with me for a long time.
Kuia Duchess (Grace Hoet) and her friend Ray (Ralph Johnson) circling each other. Intent on their own tasks, but always moving in relationship.
Gilbert (Rob Ringiao Lloyd) eyeballing members of the audience, quietly explaining _exactly_ how things lie.
A trio – Te Manawanui (Tola Newbery), Hombre (Joe Dekkers-Reihana) and Ugg (Moana Ete) – facing each other over a space that represents different distances to each of them. Hombre desperate with wild eyes and tense shoulders. Ugg full of aroha, with open arms, grounded. Te Manawanui broken, denying the relationship down to his fingernails.
The flinch of a strong shoulder.
New growth from a broken plant.
A moving box made of cardboard and sticky tape.
Springy grass by the seaside.
An old, still functional, washing machine with a hand wringer settled into a paddock.
A twist of effluent in clear water.