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Music, Comedy, Maori Battalion Feature In Play

Music and Comedy feature in Award-winning Play for Going West Books and Writers Festival

Italy, 1944: A battle-torn theatre of World War II. The Allied onslaught stalls at Monte Cassino and the 28th Maori Battalion find themselves centre-stage. A young Maori solidier goes out to stead food; an Italian soldier takes cover in a stable and both find themselves trapped in a dangerous and deadly stand-off, but with the Germans just outside, their survival depends on co-operation.

Award-winning theatre production Strange Resting Places is the showcase theatre event for the 2008 Going West Books and Writers Festival.

Strange Resting Places is at the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre from 26-30 August, with a forum discussion following the performance on Friday 29 August.

Presented by Taki Rua Productions, Strange Resting Places first premiered at Auckland Festival in 2007 and has since toured throughout the country with seasons in Wellington, Christchurch, Taranaki, Nelson and Tauranga, winning the 2007 Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best Writers.

“outstanding, new, New Zealand play” – Dominion Post

Strange Resting Places was written by Rob Mokoraka and Paolo Rotondo from extensive research and using contemporary storytelling and personal experience. It is directed by Leo Gene Peters and performed by Rob, Paolo and Maaka Pohatu.

“poignant … brilliant … hysterically funny … an engrossing and heart warming production” – Theatreview

Using music and comedy in Maori, Italian and English, the play shines the light on the complex emotional bonds of New Zealand’s wartime history and the three universals that Maori shared with the Italians – whanau, food and song … not to mention wily cunning, a love of vino and a passion for the ladies.

“Everything you see in this play is completely and accurately factual…sort of,” says writer and actor Paolo Rotondo. “Rob and I combined our own family histories with the assorted histories of strangers from books and people we met and interviewed during our research.”

Researching the play took Paolo and Rob from New Zealand’s East Coast and Hokianga regions through Naples, Rome, Cassino and Florence to Faenza.

“Rob talked to veterans and whanau from A Company and in Italy we followed much of the journey taken by 28th Maori Battalion. We interviewed the elders of my family from both fascist and partisan backgrounds and we dined with an ex German soldier who had fought New Zealanders from Crete to the end of the war.”

More than just theatre entertainment, Paolo says Strange Resting Places is a celebration and commemoration to all those whose lives were touched at Monte Cassino, Italy in 1944.

“a spellbinding little gem of a show that will have you laughing a lot and crying just a little” – NZ Herald

Strange Resting Places is at the Glen Eden Playhouse from 26-30 August at 8pm and on Saturday at 2pm as part of Going West Books and Writers Festival 2008. To book tickets, phone Waitakere City Council on 836 8000.


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