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July 16, 2018 | by  | in Theatre |
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Beneath Skin and Bone

This tale is one of glowing tussocks and toi toi, Māori legend, tikanga, and karaoke. It takes the audience from their seats and into a tale about whānau and the secrets we keep to protect one another.
Trae Te Wiki (25) is joined by her younger sister Tial (11) onstage. Together they make up the cast of two, which somehow feels like more than two people. I am heartened to see young Māori wāhine showing off their talents in theatre; the Te Wiki sisters presented this story with a fresh sense of vulnerability that is often lacking in younger actors, living and breathing the story they had signed up to tell. They made the story their own — and with Trae Te Wiki as the writer, I’m guessing some of it may have been.
I was excited to see Neenah Dekkers-Reihana’s name on the bill. Based here in Pōneke, Neenah has acted in The Candle Wasters web series Happy Playland and Bright Summer Night, both sponsored by TVNZ, and presented her own original piece This is What it Looks Like, about the depths of depression at Bats Theatre in 2017. You could say I’m a fan. Rather than acting, this time she shines her talents from the director’s chair, bringing some beautiful moments to the stage.

The live music on the side supported the action on stage and either had you laughing or on the edge of tears. Large lighting screens showed active silhouettes of the past, and real leaves scattered around the stage gave off the most wonderful crunch and smell whenever an actor stepped on them.
Taking an old Māori tale and setting it in 2018 was a powerful demonstration of how so much meaning has been lost due to colonisation. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these young Māori women tell their own stories of whakapapa. I believe strongly in the importance of minorities having access to spaces to tell their own stories.
These three are a strong team and I hope they get to present this piece to more audiences as time goes on. I want to see more from young people in the New Zealand theatre scene. Shakespeare can move over for the next 500 years, it’s time for our stories to be heard.

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Uncomfortable places: skin.

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