Solos Make & Record History
Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School Media Release
Where can you see David Tua struggle through his time as an unknown and then watch an escaped female convict become a pirate and settle in Aotearoa? When in theatre can you spend time with a backstreet abortionist and a backyard cricketer?
The "Go Solo" season of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School monologues will span the whole range of New Zealand society and will be performed in Wellington and Auckland in November and December 2003.
The Toi Whakaari monologues began in 1989 and have covered incredibly diverse topics from sportspeople (Hadlee, Wilding) to political turmoil (1951 waterfront strike, 1981 Springbok tour). They've examined students' own families and cultural icons (Alison Holst, Split Enz).
As usual, this year's solos span the whole range of New Zealand society, ranging from Hirini Melbourne to the story of a video rental store worker; from what it's like to be a young gay Indian woman, to the tale of Minnie Dean - the baby farmer of Invercargill.
Time spent working in a video shop has inspired James Ashcroft (Nga Puhi/Ngati Kahu) to write and perform his monologue. "I find it fascinating how people use the escapism of videos as their aphrodisiac of choice," said James. "I wanted to explore what it would be like being a 17-year veteran of that kind of atmosphere."
Freda Stark is still famous in New Zealand years after her death. Jodie Hyland is looking forward to the challenge of portraying this notoriously scandalous woman. "I find her absolutely fascinating," said Jodie. "I'm interested in getting the sensuality and passion of her movement across, and her life is just so varied - she was an amazing dancer, a bisexual woman and the associate of a popular musician - you couldn't get more famous than Freda in the 1930s."
Andrew Ausage, a young Samoan from Lower Hutt is portraying David Tua in his monologue. "I wanted to tell a story or two about David as a youngster and the culture clashes and identity struggles he went through to get where he is now." Andrew will box in his monologue and is training to gain some of the boxer's physique, "although I know I'm not going to beef up to be as staunch as him."
The brief for the students is to find a New Zealander or a Pacific personality they feel passionate about, research their subject thoroughly, then devise, rehearse and perform a 15-20 minute piece of solo theatre which can fit all its props into the boot of a car. Usually a show consists of four different monologues and 'marathon' sessions allow an audience to see all 17 monologues.
To make it tougher for the students, they have the weight of history on their shoulders. Past monologues have gone on to become successful pieces in mainstream theatre in New Zealand and abroad, including:
* Matt Chamberlain's Anthony Wilding Story, first shown at Toi Whakaari in 1992, was performed at Wimbledon in 2003. * Jacob Rajan - who first performed the internationally acclaimed Krishan's Dairy as a Toi Whakaari monologue in 1994
* Tim Balme - whose solo piece The Ballad of Jimmy Costello gained rave reviews throughout New Zealand and won him a Best Actor award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Tim's work was first performed as one of the first ever monologues at Toi Whakaari in 1989.
* Sonia Yee - first performed The Wholly Grain, which premiered at Bats Theatre in Wellington in August 2003 and will tour NZ shortly, at Toi Whakaari in 2002.
Last year the Toi Whakaari Solos left Wellington for the first time and toured to Auckland. This was so successful that the School is returning with its latest bunch of students for a four night season in December 2003.
What: Go Solo
Where: Wellington - Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown
Auckland - Auckland Art Gallery, Cnr Wellesley & Kitchener St, Auckland Central
Dates: Wellington - 19-29 November
Auckland - 3-6 December
Time: Check http://www.tewhaea.org.nz/toiwhakaari/toiwhakaari-whatson.html for times of the four groups of four monologues
Cost: $15 ($40 to see all four groups of monologues)