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Under The Same Moon comes to Auckland

Under The Same Moon comes to Auckland

Fresh from a sell-out season at BATS in Wellington as part of Chinese New Year festivities, Under The Same Moon, by local playwright Renee Liang, comes to Auckland. The play, part of the Lantern Festival, opened on Tuesday this week and has already garnered rave reviews.

It’s a warm comedy focussing on the story of Por-por (maternal grandmother) who comes to NZ from Hong Kong uninvited to attend the wedding of her granddaughter. Although Liang intended at first to write a madcap comedy about the breaking of cultural norms, her story is now a poetic musing on the love between generations, and the problems that affect migrant families. “I couldn’t help thinking about the stories that I had heard as a young woman from my own grandmothers. Even though they lived through wars, starvation and homelessness, they kept their sense of humour intact. I wanted to celebrate their small stories as much as their larger ones.”

The main characters of Por-por, her estranged daughter Lorna, and the three granddaughters Stella, Sarah and Stephanie, are all played by one actress – the chameleonic Hweiling Ow, herself a migrant Chinese from Malaysia. Ow also plays five other characters, a total of ten characters in all. It’s a mental and physical feat which has kept audiences spellbound. “It’s like a marathon, but a fun one,” Ow says. “I have to focus on keeping the story going, showing the threads of each character as they weave in and out of each other’s stories.”

The play is performed in English with a smattering of Cantonese, the language Liang spoke at home. She says it’s her “most Chinese play yet” but this time, the Chinese culture comes out in the behaviour of her characters, rather than any overt discussion of what it means to be Chinese in New Zealand. “Everyone’s experience is slightly different,” Liang says, “which is why it’s so important that more people are encouraged to tell their stories.”

Wellington graduate Theresa May Adams directs, and most of the creative team are women too, many mothers to young children. “We’ve had first hand experience in juggling our working lives as theatremakers with our families,” Liang says with a wry smile.

The play, along with The Two Farting Sisters, a children’s play also penned by Liang and created by Petit Workshop, are part of this year’s Lantern Festival as well as the Auckland Fringe Festival.

This Saturday night’s performance will also be very special as it will be NZ Sign Language interpreted for a Deaf audience. Such opportunities for a theatre show to engage with the Deaf community are all too rare, and has been supported by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to improve accessibility.

Selected review quotes:

“a lovely urban piece with themes of intergenerational conflict, the misunderstood elderly and how cultural norms get lost with migration… a delightful play, full of compassion and genuine humour”

“a simply staged, gentle one-woman play encompassing three generations…the warm heart of the play is Por-Por - canny, fun-loving, bent double.” NZ Herald

"This is a play with warmth, good humour, and many thoughtful moments – enough to take you on a real journey in just an hour. It’s about unexpected reunions, swapping stories, healing old wounds and moving on. It makes me wish I’d known my Grandma. Go see it." Rip It Up

“this engaging and potent commentary on women's relationships makes a strong and memorable impression… Hweiling Ow takes Liang's sharp incisive writing and goes from a sky-diving, skinny dipping Granny to iPhone-thumbing technology savvy youngster with a quick straightening of her back and change in her facial expression.” Theatreview

For publicity enquiries, contact Renee Liang (writer/producer):, 021 265 9131.


Under the Same Moon – world premiere season

A new family comedy from Renee Liang, starring Hweiling Ow and directed by Theresa May Adams, designed by Deb McGuire. Presented by Omphalos Co.

Under The Same Moon plays @ BATS (Wellington) as part of Chinese New Year Festival Wellington and Fringe 6.30 pm, 10-21 Feb 2015

And @Musgrove theatre (Auckland) as part of Lantern Festival and Auckland Fringe, 8 pm + weekend matinees, 24 Feb- 7 Mar 2015

Tickets $16 full/$14 groups&concession/$12 child

Corporate, group and family deals available – see website or contact Renee, 021 265 9131

Bookings (Wellington);


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