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First-Year Toi Whakaari Acting Students Go Solo

The first year actors at Toi Whakaari create their own original solo works, with total freedom over form, content and style. This explosion of live performance sees 21 exciting new artists take the stage on their own terms bringing their voices to audiences without apology.

For over 30 years the Toi Whakaari Solos Season has developed the voices of emerging artists and entertained audiences with originality, fire and innovation. After an unprecedented 2020, audiences can expect bravery and boldness from students who have undertaken their first year of craft skills and foundational acting training in the year of COVID-19.

“Coming to the end of 2020, a year no one could have predicted, our Year 1 Actors are finishing strongly. I am so proud of what they have achieved this year and how they have committed to their craft through lockdown and across the year. In their final project each student has created a piece of live work on their own terms and with their own unique voice and style. Audiences will be impressed and inspired by glimpsing this next generation of artists”, says Heather Timms, Director of Actor Training.

Solos 2020 is directed by three leading industry directors; Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, Anya Tate-Manning and Arts Laureate recipient Ahi Karunaharan. The directors role is to facilitate and support the actors through the process of devising original work, inside the unique form of solo performance. The students have autonomy over their work and the territories of the pieces vary greatly; ranging from real family stories, absurdist physical theatre about white privilege, danced based feminist performance art, subverting cultural stereotyping, the terrors of climate change, to mythologies, rituals and witches.


“My focus is on process, not product,” says Neenah. “I'm interested in the way we work, the way we hold ourselves and each other and the impact that makes on our art. How we can be brave while still being safe. How we can speak from our hearts through a strong vehicle that allows us to be present. How we can connect to our audience while staying true to ourselves.”

“It's a solo, not THE solo,” says director, Ahi Karunaharan. “The world in which we create the Solos, our access to resources and the use of technology has shifted radically between from when I did my Toi Solo in 2007. Thirteen years later working with a new generation of creatives the hustle, the sourcing, the scavenging, the staring into the ether of the unknown is still a familiar exhilarating feeling”.

Anya Tate-Manning, who is also an Acting tutor at Toi Whakaari says Solos 2020 is a revolution in theatre with young creative artists at the helm “it’s so exciting with work with this new generation of disruptors, every day is full of surprises and challenges. They are angry, savvy, hopeful, cynical and heartbroken about the world – it’s amazing helping them find their voices and take up space unapologetically, I can’t wait for audiences to experience their work.”

“Any night you could witness a paranormal investigator, a Malaysian pastor, an Iranian Vlogger, a French guitar-wielding storyteller, a farm load of Southland high schoolers, a young poi superstar in the making, a babysitting devil, a worm at the beginning of time, a mischievous child, an unexpected teddy bear and much more. There are 21 new pieces of work featuring 21 mavericks standing in their power. What’s not to love!”.

SOLOS 2020 runs 27 October – 1 November. Each student has a budget of $50 develop their work and a 15 minute performance timeframe. Students are in five performance groups and each group session is approximate an hour duration. Groupings and information of performance times are below.

Tickets are on sale now https://toiwhakaari.ac.nz/current-shows/solos-season

Directed by Anya Tate-Manning, Ahi Karunaharan, Neenah Dekkers-Reihana
27 October – 1 November
All Five Sessions Marathon: 12pm – 8pm, Sunday 1 November.
Basement Theatre, Te Whaea, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington
Tickets: $10/$5 | Each Session: 60min (approx.)

GROUP A: (6pm, Tues 27 Oct | 6pm, Thurs 29 Oct | 12pm, Sun 1 Nov)
Brett Taefu, Johanna Nyberg Rydstrom, Ethan Morse, Shervonne Grierson

GROUP B: (8pm, Tues 27 Oct | 6pm, Fri 30 Oct | 1.30pm, Sun 1 Nov)
Mojtaba Nazari, Luz-Eliana Folau-Brown, Rosalind Lay-Yazdani, Dylan Prasad Menon

GROUP C: (6pm, Wed 28 Oct | 8pm, Fri 30 Oct | 3pm, Sun 1 Nov)
Te Ani Solomon, Elliot Ngakuru, Tabatha Killick, Seiyan Thompson-Tonga

GROUP D: (8pm, Wed 28 Oct | 6.30pm, Sat 31 Oct | 5.30pm, Sun 1 Nov)
Lanakila Tiatia, Madison Wade, Isha Bhatnagar-Stewart, Luka Malthus

GROUP E: (8pm, Thurs 29 Oct | 8.30pm, Sat 31 Oct | 7pm, Sun 1 Nov)
Gideon Smith, Ruby Pledge, Kasi Valu, Uatesoni Filikitonga, Maurea Perez-Varea

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