28 Jun 2011
Downstage and Taki Rua have had a long and fruitful relationship ever since Taki Rua was founded in the 1980’s. Some of the company’s most important and fondly remembered productions have appeared at Downstage.
Downstage and Taki Ruahave had a long and fruitful relationship ever since Taki Rua was founded in the 1980’s. Some of the company’s most important and fondly remembered productions have appeared at Downstage, including:
- The Untold Tales of Mauiwith Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement (and a cameo from Cliff Curtis)
- The Prophet
- Nga Tangata Toa
Since 2009 Downstage has provided Taki Rua with a ‘home base’ for performance in Wellington as part of its Resident Company Programme. During that time Taki Rua has presented Strange Resting Places and Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland. The culmination of that three-year residency is a brand new production of Albert Belz’s award-winning play Awhi Tapu which opens Downstage’s Season Two 2011.
Awhi Tapu (Sacred Embrace) is the name of a fictional small town in the Urewera Ranges, devastated by the loss of the forestry industry that sustained it. With no leaders to guide them and nothing left to believe in, four young friends make the town their own fantasy playground. But the fantasy turns serious as the need to give their lives a purpose leads to a last-ditch effort to resurrect the town they once knew.
Albert Belz is a Bruce Mason Award-winning playwright who describes Awhi Tapu as his most ‘evolved’ play, and says that it is about ‘revolution’.
Its combination of humour and tragedy has had a number of successful productions around NZ since its 2003 debut.Downstage is proud to present this evolved and mature work in 2011.
This is one of two of Albert’s scripts to be performed at Downstage this season, with Raising the Titanics scheduled for December.
Another artist with strong ties to Taki Rua and Downstage is Leo Gene Peters. This softly-spoken Texan (yes, they exist) directed, designed and co-devised the tremendously successful Strange Resting Places for Taki Rua, and his own company – a slightly isolated dog – brought the critically acclaimed Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants to Downstage earlier this year.
The cast are four talented and charming young actors, who have worked with Leo Gene to create the tight-knit group of friends in Awhi Tapu.
James Tito (Ngāti Tuwharetoa/Ngāpuhi) plays Wendyl, the unofficial leader of the group. Strong-willed, but sensitive, it’s Wendyl’s leadership that takes them all down the path of irrevocable action.
James recently graduated from Toi Whakaari:New Zealand Drama School, where he played one of Shakespeare’s great comic roles as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Tola Newbery plays Sonny, the playful joker of the gang, who imagines their life as a Hollywood blockbuster with Denzel Washington, naturally, portraying himself.
Tola is from Lyttleton, Christchurch and recently returned home to see the effects of the earthquake for himself and, more importantly, “to stoke up the home fires that keep me inspired”
Matariki Whatarau( Ngati Kahungunu/ Ngāti Raukawa/ Ngāti Whanaunga) is Casper ‘the Hindu’, a Fijian Indian brought up in Awhi Tapu. A sensitive soul, he takes plenty of stick from his mates, but may just be the glue that holds them together.
Matariki has been working side by side with Taki Rua for five years now, and plans to continue with the company ‘for many years to come’.
Kura Forrester (Ngati Porou) plays Girl Girl, a mysterious young woman who hasn’t spoken or made a sound since her father left Awhi Tapu many years previously.
Kura is a graduate of Unitec and can be spotted at the moment on Maori Television’s Toku Reo “reinforcing how cool it is to korero”. She has appeared in another Albert Belz play Whero’s New Net, but this will be her first Taki Rua production.
All four actors will make their Downstage debuts this season.
Audio Described performance: Downstage and Taki Rua have scheduled a special Audio Described Performance to enable access to blind and sight-impaired audience members.
14 – 30 July (Public preview 13 July $25)
Meet the Artists Tues 19 July
For interview or photo requests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Downstage & Taki Rua Productions present Awhi Tapu by Albert Belz All they have is each other.
Venue: Downstage Theatre
Date: 13 July 2011