Joie de vivre [by James Wenley]
It is strange at first to see performers Tama Jarman, Justin Haiu and Jarod Rawiri in the white face, white gloves, and the exaggerated clothing of a mime artist. While the art of mime, along with clowning, is typically taught as a module in drama training, and while it informs a lot of local acting or physical theatre (see Red Leap’s The Arrival), it is rare to see the full white face kit, and we can’t initially take them very seriously. But neither do they: the White face gives them permission to be cheeky and a little bit juvenile, with hilarious mimed gags and more. Rawiri, the only one of the three to consistently speak, tells us (in a French accent) that we will not be seeing awesome French theatre, because they are not French. What the kiwi sensibility seems to add to the mix is a whole lot of added cheekiness. We lap up the hilarity, but the magic of La Vie Dans une Marionette is when we start to care.
La Vie Dans has been in on-and-off development since the original ten minute version won the Wild Card Award at Auckland’s first Short+Sweet Theatre Festival in 2010. A summary of this new expanded version can still be kept quite short: a solitary piano player (Jarman) is delivered a box which contains a life-size marionette (Justin Haiu). When he cuts the marionette’s strings, the pianist discovers it can come to life of its own accord whenever he plays his piano or a music box. Wisely, they don’t try to pack a lot it into the story. It is simple and strong, allowing extended gags to be developed, and for us to admire the physical prowess of the actors.
More than just 'Invincible' [by James Wenley]
At the age of 19, George Nepia earned himself a place in Rugby history. As fullback on the All Black squad during the tour of Europe in 1924/25, he played in all 30 matches, and the All Blacks won them all. The team would be hailed as the ‘Invincibles’ and Nepia as the best full back of all time.
That’s the legend. What I, George Nepia gives us is the man. Nepia, as interpreted by playwright Hone Kouka, director Jason Te Kare and actor Jarod Rawiri, is worlds away from the hype. Rugby was never his dream and he’s humble and self-effacing about his on field achievements – so much fuss about a ball made out of ‘cow-hide’. His greatest achievement: Fatherhood, what else?
Kouka uses the framing of Nepia in the afterlife (at a Rugby stadium no less) hoping and waiting to meet his deceased son. Here, he reflects on his life, the story told from both the older, wiser perspective as well as the in-the-moment wide eyed and young Nepia.
On the boat to England we meet a Nepia entirely at odds with his portrayal as legend. He has all too human fears – not being good enough, and not fitting in with his team. The return to the ‘motherland’ that drives other team mates is lost on him, he finds himself a Maori in a strange land, the story becoming a deeply personal odyssey where he must travel away to find himself (a foundation New Zealand rite of passage if ever there was one!).
Brooding tale of Brotherhood [by James Wenley]
The Brothers Size is a play that ignites the senses.
Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney has been burdened with all sorts of praise, the voice of his generation, the savior of American theatre. He grew up in Miami’s deprived Liberty City housing projects, and has worked with such prestigious theatrical institutions as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
What he does isn’t anything new, he uses a potent mix of the language of now – the language of the street, hip hop – to tell a universal story in an engaging way. That this play is receiving plaudits in an Auckland production by Silo Theatre is a testament to that. Good storytelling wins.
On a strictly narrative point A to point B level, the tale is a simple one. It’s about two brothers and what unites and divides them. Oshoosi Size (Pua Magasiva) is the ‘black sheep’, released from prison and taken into the care of head-to-the-ground elder brother Ogun (Jarod Rawiri), who tries to instill the value of hard-work and get him back on the right path. The presence of ex-con Elegba (Te Kohe Tuhaka), who ‘looked after’ Oshoosi while he was in prison, threatens to disturb the Size brotherhood.
Underneath this story are biblical and mythical echoes. McCraney has layered the story with elements of the West African Yorùbán Mythology – Ogun, for example, is the name of the God of Iron, Creativity and Violence, adding deeper metaphoric elements.
Jarod Rawiri sizes up latest role [by Sharu Delilkan]
Jarod Rawiri has taken to the ‘ghetto lingo’ of Boston like a duck to water.
He plays Ogun Size, one of the three main characters in Silo Theatre’s latest production The Brothers Size.
Rawiri says he has really enjoyed creating the movement for the vocabulary, which he says “has almost become second nature to me.
“Having worked in Red Leap Theatre’s The Arrival has really helped me with this part of my role.”
Another interesting part of being involved in The Silo production has been discovering the West African myths that form the backbone of his character Ogun’s ethnic history.