By Bruce Mason
Directed by Colin McColl
Auckland Theatre Company
[2hrs 15mins, incl. interval]
at Maidment, Auckland
From 21 Jul 2012 to 11 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: John Smythe; Sharu Delilkan (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog); Paul Simei-Barton (New Zealand Herald);
What is more honourable: the truth that hurts, or the lie that heals?
In 1968, George Henare played the role of Matt, the prodigal son, in the premiere of Bruce Mason's AWATEA. Now, 44 years later, Henare has come full circle as he takes on the role of the blind father, Werihe.
Auckland Theatre Company's landmark production of AWATEA opens, Thursday 12 July at 8pm, at the Maidment Theatre.
Alongside THE POHUTUKAWA TREE and THE END OF THE GOLDEN WEATHER, AWATEA completes Bruce Mason's classic trilogy of powerful New Zealand dramas: a thrilling, heart-wrenching, morally tough, fiercely realistic study of betrayal and disillusionment.
Everyone in the remote township of Omoana is proud of Matt Paku, who left the East Coast to train as a doctor and now has a successful practice in Auckland. Proudest of all is his old, blind father Werihe, who basks in this success via his son's letters which are read to him by Emma Gilhooly, the no-nonsense local postmistress. Every New Year's Eve, Matt comes home and the whole community celebrates. But things are different this year: Gilhooly has devastating news; news that she must keep from old Werihe at all costs if he's to hold onto his belief in his son.
Bruce Mason, playwright, critic and fiction writer, was born in Wellington and moved to Takapuna at the age of five. His experiences in Takapuna formed the basis of his famous solo work for the theatre, THE END OF THE GOLDEN WEATHER.
In thirty years Mason wrote more than two dozen plays, including such classics as THE POHUTUKAWA TREE, BLOOD OF THE LAMB and AWATEA. He was a busy actor, critic, editor and general activist for New Zealand's fledgling professional theatre. In 1977 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Victoria University, was made a CBE in 1980, and was given the New Zealand Literary Fund Award for Achievement in 1982 (the same year that he died).
"Back in 1968, I was privileged to see famous New Zealand opera bass Inia Te Wiata and a young George Henare as father and son in the premiere of this beautiful, moving story set in a remote East Coast township in the 1960s. Now George, one of our most revered and honoured actors, will take on the role of blind koro Werihe and Te Kohe Tuhaka will play Matt, the prodigal son. A true feast of talent." - Colin McColl, ATC's artistic director.
AWATEA by Bruce Mason
19 July - 11 August
Tickets for AWATEA can be purchased from the Maidment Theatre, 09 308 2383 or www.atc.co.nz
George Henare – Werihe Paku
Te Kohe Tuhaka – Matt Paku
Geraldine Brophy – Emma Gilhooly
Andrew Grainger – Sergeant Jameson
Nancy Brunning – Ana
Carl Bland – Det. Inspector Brett
Rob Mokaraka – Kani
Nicola Kawana – Pera
Cian Elyse White – Tina
Scotty Cotter – Tahi
Aymee Karaitiana, Rebekah Brady, Te Ruinga Rakena, John Fifita & Gene Tana – Whanau
Tony Rabbit – Set & Lighting Design
Nic Smillie – Costume Design
John Gibson – Composition & Sound Design
Dramaturg – Philippa Campbell
Fina Waiata – Te Kohe Tuhaka (words) & John Gibson (music)
Artist (in the style of Colin McCahon) – Hedda Oosterhoff