Victoria University of Wellington and Theatrecomrades present
---shapeshifting history into Herstory---
Written and Performed by Melissa Billington
Directed by Sally Richards
12-15 February, 7.00pm, Matinee 2.00pm Saturday 15th
Studio 77, Victoria University
How does Pocahontas Haunt Us? With her innocence sullied. With her people, her place, her paradigm plagued, pursued and nearly eradicated by the insidious virus of separatism, competition, deceit and dis-ease.
Melissa Billington, 13th lineal descendant of Pocahontas, arrives on our shores with stories of madness, murder, mayhem, marriage and mothers.
PocaHAUNTus explores how truth is relative by taking on the truths, or stories, of what we often see as opposites--female and male, past and future, indigenous and "civilized", natural and commercial/industrial, clothed and naked, sane and crazy. The myriad voices of the people in the stories are swiftly 'moved between' by one actor, thus making an art-form of the schizophrenic mindset that hears voices and yet is imprisoned (instead of liberated) by them. With an aim to bridge these seeming opposites, to take the poison of ancestral patterns and transmute it into potion for the present and future generations, Melissa plays with the premise that performance is performative in the western world, yet transformative in most indigenous cultures.
Find us at https://www.facebook.com/events/274871872638078/
“I am at home in the blood of my ancestors—the murderers and the drunkards, the mothers and the victims, the victorious and the thwarted, the mad and the rich, the poor and the lost, the tribal and the anarchist.
I am at home in the All, in the None, in the space between.” –Melissa Billington, Writer and Performer
“This work takes a long journey, across seas, rivers and mountains. It is a journey Melissa embarked on generations ago, I joined ship as it passed this shore with questions in my luggage, academic games to play on our voyage.” - Sally Richards, Director, PhD student
Melissa Billington - writer, solo actor/performer, costume designer
BA Theatre Arts, Cornell University
Film, commercial & theatre actor 20 years
Work for theatre includes Medea Redux, Winter, The Vagina Monologues, and Damage
Work for film includes 30 Days of Night, Avatar and the Hobbit
Sally Richards - director, dramaturge, producer, designer
Master of Theatre Arts: Directing at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and Victoria University of Wellington
Bachelor of Theatre with Honours from James Cook University of North Queensland
Currently PhD candidate at Victoria University, School of English, Film, Theatre and Media. PhD examines the directing of solo performance.
Theatre director, producer, teacher and actor for over 20 years in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia
2007 Fringe Awards for Best Solo for Porcelain Grin
Theatre directing credits include Medea Redux, Actor, Dog, Brimstone and Treacle, Falling in Like, The Vagina Monologues, Dolores, Winter and Poster of the Cosmos
Stephanie Sinclaire - dramaturge
30 years in theatre and film as Associate Artistic Director and later Artistic and Managing Director of the Kings Head Theatre, London. Founder of Dragonfly Films and Dragonlady Theatre and Film. Producer/ Writer/ Director for theatre and film.
David Allen – AV specialist
David Allen has been in the acting scene for 17yrs as a professional, performing on TV, Film, independent theater, long form improv, and sketch comedy. His career has spanned from New York, Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, and now New Zealand(being a resident actor of the former 6 O'clock swill in Wellington). He studied in Los Angeles at San Francisco State University which led him to an acting scholarship at Academy of Drama in London. He has written, directed and produced two short films, has a Zombie sock puppet web series currently in production and a feature film collaboration in the works starting preproduction post Fringe Fest.
NB. There will be a question and answer session with the audience and the company after performances on Friday and Saturday nights.
SOUND BYTES from the Play:
Lady Rebecca: I am savage. Can’t you tell?
That’s why they constrain me so.
Contain me so.
Stain me so.
Melissa: Pocahontas, born Matoaka, ordained Amonute, christened Rebecca, was my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother. Her connection to the earth was unborn and undying—it never wasn’t.
Josephine (of Phyllis): She had a heart as big as all outdoors.
John Smith (from Disney): There’s so much we can teach you. We’ve improved the lives of savages all over the world.
Willianne: You simply can’t be doing that sort of thing Phyllis. I won’t allow it. You’re growing up now and cannot be goin round doing handstands with no underthings on, specially not in front of men.
PocaHAUNTus is performed by Melissa Billington, exploring the stories of her ancestors.
PocaHAUNTus is set in the world of colonisation, of the new America and its new and old guardians.
PocaHAUNTus sings, dances, orates, relives and challenges our ideas of Pocahontas--and the nature-based cultures she represents globally--and considers how she haunts us in our modern world. How can this ghost be seen and laid to rest?
For women to be emancipated. For the earth to thrive. The romantic story of woman must be seen for what it is—another form of slavery, of entrapment, of rape, of subjugation. Stand tall women. Own all, women. Do not be distracted by detractors from your inherent amazon beauty, strength and intelligence.
The 2014 Wellington Fringe Festival brings PocaHAUNTus from across the seas to our shores in a retelling of the story of the Native Indian princess who saves John Smith and brokers the peace between the colonists and the savages. For American Melissa Billington, both writer and performer of this solo show, this is a very personal story as it retraces for family lineage - she is the 13th lineal descendant of Pocahontas. In creating this show her aim has been to challenge Western notions of Pocahontas and to examine the genetic impact of ancestors. The director Sally Richards has worked with Melissa on a number of other solo projects, including The Vagina Monologues, and has been excited to take on the challenge of a semi-autobiographical, political, spiritual and complex story of both Pocahontas and Melissa's more recent history. PocaHAUNTus also serves Richards' research concerns for her PhD in Theatre at Victoria University. She is examining approaches to directing the solo performer and how the rehearsal room relationship is negotiated........... "