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Chance for NZ to Get Behind Award Winning Show

For Immediate Release
27 November 2006

Unique Opportunity for New Zealand to Get Behind Award Winning Show

Children of the Sea

New Zealand actor Rawiri Paratene and Oxfam NZ are on a mission to bring award winning outdoor show Children of the Sea to Auckland Festival, AK07 next March.

Paratene helped create Children of the Sea when he was invited to spend time with Sri Lankan teenagers who had been traumatised by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

A Red Cross aid worker working in Sri Lanka had seen Paratene in The Making of Whale Rider and recognised his ability to make children laugh. She flew Paratene and two other internationally renowned theatre and film practitioners to the devastated area with the hope of bringing laughter back into the teenagers lives.

“It was the most amazing theatrical experience of my life,” says Paratene.

A series of workshops and several trips back to Sri Lanka resulted in this spectacular show which stars 15 teenage Sri Lankans and is based on Shakespeare’s Pericles.

“When we first performed the show hundreds of Sri Lankans turned up from far away villages. The show had been going for about half an hour and torrential rain began to pelt down. We’re talking tropical downpour, but not a single audience member moved. They were transfixed by the show. Their stories and the story of the tsunami were finally being told. It was very moving. And very wet!

Children of the Sea gained a superstar fan in Kylie Minogue who contributed to its first international tour to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2005. At Edinburgh the show played to record crowds and won the hearts of festival-goers and critics alike, winning four Festival awards, including the coveted Scotsman Fringe First and Spirit of the Fringe Award.

Paratene performs in the show, playing Gower, a narrator who leads the audience through the story and the venue. He performs kapahaka as an integral part of the piece.

“The New Zealand flag has been carried with pride in Sri Lanka and Scotland. It is fitting New Zealanders get a chance to share in the success of the project.”

Now Paratene, the Auckland Festival, AK07 and Oxfam are campaigning to raise money to bring Children of the Sea to Auckland as part of Auckland Festival, AK07.

Paratene is hopeful enough money can be raised before Christmas to start organising the March performance.

“There have already been so many miracles with this show, I'm sure we will get there. These incredible young Sri Lankans bring hope to everyone who meets them. I know that New Zealanders will get behind this cause.”

Oxfam NZ Executive Director Barry Coates says, “Oxfam New Zealand is proud to be supporting this unique opportunity which brings together students from Sri Lanka and Maori and Pakeha communities. Children of the Sea also gives New Zealanders, who gave so generously to the tsunami emergency, a chance to take part in building the connection between Maori and Sri Lankan art forms.”

Oxfam is managing donations and sponsorship. Any money raised outside of meeting production costs will go towards Oxfam’s work in Tsunami affected regions.

Donations to Children of the Sea can be made through www.oxfam.org.nz.

ENDS

AUCKLAND FESTIVAL AK07
9 - 25 March 2007

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