How well do really know your neighbours? Your work colleagues? The mum of two who you see at the local shop? The person sitting beside you on the bus? Do you know their story?
After interviewing a wide range of people throughout New Zealand, Kiwi theatre-maker Kate McGill shares with us the stories of twenty strangers in her solo show Weave – Yarns with New Zealanders.
The verbatim piece delves into the everyday stories of a South Island farmer, a sex worker, a Filipino immigrant and many more. Weave is an entertaining and thought-provoking investigation into what it means to be a New Zealander.
I can’t say I left the performance knowing exactly what it means to be Kiwi, but as a recent arrival from the UK it certainly left me pondering my own relationship with this country. Where do I fit into the definition of New Zealand identity?
A woman of many talents, or should I say many voices, McGill’s performance is both visually and emotionally stimulating. She morphs into each character with ease, drawing you into each person and inhabiting them fully. She leaves you pining and wanting to know more of each of their stories.
One minute your sides hurt from laughing hysterically as McGill re-enacts the physicality of a middle-aged builder, the next, deadly silence invades the room as she shares stories of racism. The juxtaposition between the positive and negative left me feeling drained. It takes you on an emotional rollercoaster to discover who you are, not only as individuals, but also collectively.
McGill writes names and themes on large brown paper, a device that becomes distracting and slightly pointless as it is difficult to keep up with which person she was enacting. Frankly, we don’t need a name to identify with the story. By naming it, it almost becomes un-relatable.
So don’t get too bothered by the set walls and working out who is who. Instead, just listen to the intriguing stories from fellow Kiwis while trying to figure out your own.
Weave – Yarns with New Zealanders plays until 15 April. Details see The Basement.