WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DETERMINE WHO YOU COULD BE?
The Contours of Heaven
The Contours of Heaven is an original work of solo performance which was created alongside director Puti Lancaster, with later collaborative input from designers Marama Beamish and Owen McCarthy, and Lydia Zanetti of Zanetti productions.
The show was originally devised over three months, in Te Matau a Māui, The Hawkes Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand. In this region, the socio-economic disparity is potent: with rural centre Havelock North having the highest number of millionaires per-capita living next door to areas such as Flaxmere, which has the lowest mean income, in urban Aotearoa.
We were keen to create a show for the Hawkes Bay Arts Festival, in 2017, that sought to bring the voices of young people from different communities in this region to the fore, and to understand more about the impacts of these economic and social gulfs, bringing real stories from young people to audiences, from within the community, posing the question: What does it take to determine what you could be?
Contours of Heaven won numerous awards at The Auckland Fringe Festival, The Auckland Theatre awards, and in February of 2020 was selected as one of three contemporary New Zealand Theatre works, to represent Aotearoa in New York City as a part of the American Performing Arts Market, and PAANZ.
Mighty Boy was initially developed as a solo performance research project whist studying at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.
Mighty Boy is part clown, part character study. He is looking to the audience and recruiting members to be part of his gang, “The Mighty Boys,” so that, together they can fight the injustices in the world, “out there,” beyond the black box of the theatre.
An exploration of the psyche of young Māori men estranged from their heritage, mental health and the internal world of the underdog, Mighty Boy seeks to use the lightness of comedy, and inspiration from the loose and light images in the illustrations of Quentin Blake to delve into some of these hearty and more taboo and difficult to discuss themes with accessibility and ease.
Mighty Boy was selected to take into a collaboration with Arts Access Aotearoa, and was performed and re-presented at Te Whare Manaakitanga, Rimutaka Prison in 2016.
This experience was paradigm shifting and illuminated the possibility that art and live performance provide to create platforms to discuss difficult to access topics such as violence, racism and reconciliation.
Death of Nomad
Death of Nomad was initially created in a red stickered building, in an abandoned office space, in Wellington City, in the world of the nighttime.
Death of Nomad is the first in the trilogy of solo works I created between the ages of 18 and 23, (the following two described above,) exploring themes of identity, cultural and economic disparity and the impacts of urban drift on tangata whenua and tangata awarua growing up in the Māori diaspora, in urban New Zealand.
Death of Nomad was created on a shoe string whilst I was working my first full-time job as a telemarketer, with Haz and Charlotte Forrester of WOMB, Director Jo Randerson, with input from many loved ones in the arts community of Wellington.
This experience created a sense of whakawhanaunga, even whilst being miles away from home, deep in the belly of Courtenay Place in the Nighttime. The show was inspired by a chance encounter with another urban Māori, Mere Bird, who is a real icon of the nighttime in Wellington. During a moment when I was waiting for the bus home, she was able to spot me out, and pick that I was Joseph Dopherty’s daughter, (she had gone to school with my dad in Murupara, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.) without ascertaining any other information about me. I thought this was beautiful, and built the show around this connection.
Staging this work was significant because it was the last place and time I saw my Dad alive.
Following on from this, we were invited by Joanna Doherty and Naiomy Murgatroyd to present this work in Rotorua, at the Rotorua Museum for whānau from Te Urewera and friends of the museum, in the local community.