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FRINGE '04 REVIEW: Yatra: Journey for Identity

Yatra takes the audience down road less travelled, reflecting for the first time on stage the feelings of identify of young South Asian New Zealanders.

Yatra: Journey for Identity, directed by Jade Eriksen

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Where: BATS Theatre
When: Until February 14

Reviewed by: Nicola Hill

Yatra: Journey for Identity delivers on the promise of the Fringe Festival 2004 and takes the audience down a road less travelled, reflecting for the first time on stage the feelings of identity of young South Asian New Zealanders. Starting before the Fringe’s official launch on 14 February, Yatra may well be a festival highlight.

The Untouchables Collective – a group of sixteen young South Asian artists – has devised a magical theatrical piece that is a synthesis of light, music, movement, and drama. Scenes, songs, dances, and images are woven together around a theme of migration, manifested by the symbolic progress of a ‘migrant’ from one end of the stage to the other – ‘one step at a time’ - over the course of the hour long production.

The audience was drawn into the South Asian migrant’s feeling of isolation and an awareness of the slow, painful struggle of a journey that does not end. The performance derives its strength from the combination of the use of the South Asian tradition of ceremony and the raw and fresh spirit of its youthful cast. The celebration of South Asian languages on stage was emotionally charged and exhilarating for the audience.

The most powerful scenes, such as the hypnotic lotus dance, were those where the collective talents of the Untouchables fused together. Inspirational music and lighting and sound production were the stars of the performance, providing emotional depth to each moment. Less engaging were the ambitious monologues from Toi Whakaari graduates Rashmi Pilapitiya and Rina Patel (that were in fact the catalyst for this artistic venture).

Yatra should be seen by all South Asian New Zealanders and is highly recommended for all Fringe goers for an experience unlike any other at this year’s Festival.


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