Raising the Titanics, Raising a Theatre [by James Wenley]
The Maori Volcanics show band in their 60s heyday were arguably our most famous exports. With members included bonafide legends Prince Tui Teka and Billy T James, they took their unique mix of song, comedy, and Maori culture around the world to the USA, Vietnam, Israel, Europe, playing to royalty and appearing on the same bill as other bonafide legends like Sammy Davis Jr.
The Titanics are a band like the Volcanics, though they never existed. Playwright Albert Belz and Producer Tainui Tukiwaho (who coincidentally recently graced our small screen playing Billy T James himself) initially explored doing a play involving the likes of Howard Morrison, Tui Teka and James before going with the story of a fictionalised showband. It’s a clever idea, able to honour the legends without being restricted by biographical details, and to pay tribute to an essential piece of kiwi music history.
It’s a history I fully admit to being quite ignorant of, and by paying homage to the showband culture Raising the Titanics succeeds the most. For those like me, here’s a clip of Billy T James and Prince Tui Teka performing with the Maori Volcanics… enjoy.
Big shoes to fill, right on Q [by Sharu Delilkan]
Roimata Fox admits that the prospect of filling actor Miriama McDowell’s shoes, as Marea Reka in Raising the Titanics, was extremely daunting.
“It’s amazing what she does. I’ve been watching her since I was 15 and have always looked up to her,” she says.
The 23-year-old actor has since gotten over those initial jitters and is in her element embodying her new role.
Having grown up in Ruatorea, a small town close to Gisborne, Fox says she has taken a few liberties with her east coast character to make it her own.
“Marea is Ngati Porou to the core and so am I. That’s all I know and that’s all I can draw from because that’s basically who I am.”
In fact when she heard she had the role Fox packed her bags and headed back to Ruatorea to hang out with her aunties on a marae, as part of her research.