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Ethically Engaging the Theatre Audience


Award-winning playwright and MIT lecturer Jason Te Mete is taking the class on the road to perform his play Over My Dead Body: LITTLE BLACK BITCH at Wellington’s BATS Theatre (4-8 June).

Twenty students from the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Performing Arts) programme will take part in the production to be staged as part of Kia Mau Festival.

“Little Black Bitch is inspired by personal events. It tackles mental health in a fantastical way blending mythology, waiata and black comedy,” says Te Mete who won an Adam NZ Play Award as Best Māori Playwright 2018 for the work.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students who get to work on a current relevant piece in a professional space.”

Because the play includes the topic of suicide, trigger warnings will be made in an announcement at the beginning of the performance and the audience will be invited to take part in supportive, facilitated discussions after the show.

Information on how they can access counselling and up to five free sessions will be provided through MIT if required.

“Offering this sort of assistance to an audience is necessary not only to acknowledge the seriousness of the issues raised in the play, but also to ensure the safety of those who might be triggered by the subject matter,” says Catherine Dickey, chair of MIT’s ethics committee.

The measures were part of the ethical approval given to the project funded through the institute’s Strategic Research Fund.

“The play is an innovative way of engaging an audience in a potentially therapeutic discussion on mental health,” says Dr Daud Ahmed, Research Director.

“It’s also a valuable opportunity for MIT’s Creative Arts and Counselling Schools to work together for the good of New Zealanders particularly youth and those from Māori and Pacific backgrounds who may be struggling with these issues.”

Over My Dead Body: LITTLE BLACK BITCH is a co-production between Tuatara Collective and MIT that will be performed in front of Auckland audiences at Basement Theatre as part of Auckland Council’s Matariki Festival after its Wellington run.

Tuatara Collective is a new company that focuses on connecting with general audiences on relevant social themes through theatre while also providing a basis for community workshops to create kōrero.

Jason Te Mete is Programme Leader of Performing Arts at MIT and is actively assisting alumni and students to pursue opportunities in the creative industries beyond study.

Along with Jason, MIT staff including dance lecturer Vivian Hosking-Aue (choreographer) and technician Ralph Brown are also part of the team travelling to Wellington.


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