Fallow by Jason Te Kare


Looking back, I guess the reason that moment has stayed with me after fifteen years is because it was a win. Not a win over Hone. If you have ever been part of a Tawata Productions warm-up with Hone Kouka as your director, you know how competitive the warm-ups get. Any win over Hone is to be cherished. No, the win was not about that warm-up rivalry. Neither was it a win over the cross examining of a director, even if I was reading the sports section. Probably the real reason why Hone asked about it. No, this win has stayed with me after all these years because it felt like it was the closest I came to nailing the character. For me, Christian has always felt like the one character that got away.
Silence / Worth by Karnan Saba


As I reflect on Ahi Karunaharan’s The Mourning After, I remember this key detail in the season we presented at Circa Theatre in 2012. It gave us – Miria, Ahi, Laurie and myself – a chance to really work with dialling in this silence. The sound of the Indian Ocean became this sacred meditative drone that is ubiquitous in the writing. Its function is the same – to bring everything that we throw on this canvas to life. Shekar is greeted with it at the house when he goes back to Sri Lanka, you hear it faintly inside, you hear it from the window in his room. It’s loud at its point of crescendo, and then eventually deafening when it’s not there.
The Prophet by Miriama McDowell


When I graduated from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in 2002, I came out into the industry with two fellow Māori actors – Mark Ruka and Jarod Rawiri. We had been involved in a development season of The Prophet during our last few months at Toi, along with our Samoan classmate Marie Williams. Our production was rough and ready, put on at Studio 77 at Vic Uni, directed by Hone Kouka and joined by Jason Te Kare and Waimihi Hotere. That development season was the first experience I’d had performing to Māori audiences – they talk along with you, repeat your lines, harmonise with you when you waiata, comment on your performance to each other in big loud voices. I remember the thrill of being on stage and having to turn on an extra set of ears as the stories you were telling were reflected back at you in real time. We’d stumble off stage in between scenes cracking up about the real life characters in the audience.
He Reo Aroha by Natala Huaki Gwiazdzinski


I was not a big fan of colour in my lighting designs, I loved using open white, full CT blue and half CT orange. I didn’t like doing washes, I preferred light skimming the body rather than fully lit. I liked shadow, I liked the dark spaces. But He Reo Aroha called out for colour. I didn’t have a set to carve up the stage, to bounce light off, incorporate my go-to splashes and slashes of light. The set consisted of two wooden chairs, a ukulele, two guitars on stands and a mic. I had nowhere to hide. Touring taught me to work efficiently because you don’t have the luxury of time on tour. You have to build actor confidence very quickly, especially with lights because they never get a chance to see themselves lit or what mood you are trying to create around their performances.

‘Your face!’ – delivered by Philomel to Jess, the first intelligible words we hear from his character to hers, not long after the ‘ling ling’ into the bakery. It is quite a doongy moment – up until then we have witnessed Philomel to be quite formal – the language of the characters of the play already romantic, chivalrous, well spoken, poetic We witness an attraction at this moment, an immediate acknowledgement. This line has been delivered so memorably by all the actors I have had the pleasure of witnessing play Philomel. And from many others – when not even acting. For me – ‘Your face!’: an expression of admiration and appreciation; expressing the awe of and joy inspired by the other. This phrase, a part of my vocabulary, made conscious in a new way, ever-more to be associated with the playfulness of these players.
Pūtahi Festival by Moana Ete


Times like right now, hunkered down maintaining rāhui, gathering in this way seems like such an extravagance. Like seeing old photos of Air New Zealand Cabin Crew serving passengers glazed ham. Right now I’m endlessly interested in technology and the role it is playing in keeping us artists in work. Is it the same? Can we be happy like this? Maybe. It’s fascinating. At this time everything we offer up as artists needs to be observed by a recording tool in a way that allows it to be re-watched, re-lived, re-shared. I guess we’ve known this about visual art, film, recorded music, and now theatre (and talanoa/hui in some respect) seems to be a new frontier altogether. Thinking back to this time and this image, gathered with other artists budding and seasoned at this Festival at this time in particular it seems like a thing of a luxury.
Henare by Karena Letham


The sun rises over the urupā in Tikitiki – East Coast, North Island. The grass is covered in dew, the air is cold and Rāhui Marae is slowly being revealed by the sun as a small group gather outside to kick start the day. It’s a Tuesday morning in September and some, not all, of the Henare team are ready for … bootcamp – some turned up late and definitely regretted it. Like above, the Henare process was not without surprises – cancelled flights, surprise location airport landings, spontaneous road trips, extended periods of wall acting and daily visits from the neighbouring cow to name a few. But ultimately, we delivered a theatre show in many traditional ways. What do I mean by this? We had actors live onstage, we had an audience, we had a script with a story and technical cues – we had all the components that comprise a classic theatre show. And yet, I would say, it was equal parts a standard process mixed with a completely non-standard process. I truly believe that the way in which we created Henare, was what led this to be one of the most fulfilling projects of my career.
The Vultures by Sopheak Seng


Reflections With Him by Taungaroa Emile


It is important to stay true to the script. To honour the story, the words the writer has painstakingly placed there for you, to make, to manifest. I wanted Ina to be as close to Mīria’s paparuau as I could. That the character was not a replica of my own father. I wanted for my father’s nuances, expressions, movements, gestures to appear naturally through the season. Conscious craft with sub-conscious instinct. Made sense at the time. It’s like dreaming. You’re in it and not sure where it’s going. Your options are to either wake up or see where it takes you. During this particular Opening Night dream, I wanted to wake up. I decided that the show needed more pace. A speed run but with heaps more emotion. Get off the stage, get to the end of the dream. Receive my notes, find a drink. Mull over notes while maintaining conversations with friends and whānau, while listening to Island music. Come back in a few days and receive an extra set of notes. Redress. Reset. Repeat. Dream.
Oho Ake 2004 by Jennifer Lal


Reflections of pulling it off, making amazing work and looking after each other.  I won a lighting award for that show that year. I travelled to England with Asalemo and another of Mīria’s shows a few years later. I went to Natano’s wedding last year at which Mīria was a bridesmaid, Hone was an MC and Jamie sang at. I was sitting in the First Day of rehearsal with Andrew when it was announced we’d be going to mass gatherings of less than 500 and we knew what was going to ensue. I wonder how we will do this all again.
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