48 NIGHTS ON HOPE STREET
ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland
16/09/2020 - 20/09/2020
BACK ON THE BOARDS Mini Festival
Holed up on Hope Street during lockdown, five flatmates while away the time telling tall tales every night… for 48 Nights.
Inspired by the spirit of Giovanni Bocaccio’s The Decameron, the storytelling epic written in the 14th century as the Plague was sweeping through Europe, ATC brings together five of Aotearoa’s most exciting young writers and a diverse company of actors and musicians to create a direct theatrical response to this moment.
Seated on the ASB Waterfront stage, the audience will get to experience a wild night of storytelling, song and music up close and personal in a cosy living room-style setting. Join us for this rare onstage opportunity and help celebrate the power and joy of live theatre.
ASB Waterfront Theatre
Wed 16 – Sunday 20 September 2020
Wed-Sat, 6.30pm & 8.30pm
Sun, 2pm & 4pm
Dentons Kensington Swan presents Back on the Boards, celebrating the return of live theatre.
Auckland Theatre Company’s return to ASB Waterfront Theatre stage will feature a remount of the beloved and award winning Still Life With Chickens by D.F. Mamea, a show that steals hearts wherever it is performed around the world. The highly acclaimed play Black Lover by Stanley Makuwe, the premiere season of which sold out during the 2020 Auckland Arts Festival but was cut short by the global pandemic, will also be remounted. Back on the Boards also features a brand new work 48 Nights on Hope Street, a direct and exciting response to this time from a diverse company of young writers, actors and musicians.
Three brilliant New Zealand works celebrate good people, profound relationships and what it means to be human. Come and see one, two or all three shows to once again enjoy a stellar night out at the theatre.
Trae Te Wiki
Freya Daly Sadgrove: Writer
Leki Jackson-Bourke: Writer
Nathan Joe: Writer
Ana Scotney: Writer
Cian Elyse White: Writer
Jane Yonge: Director
Stage Manager – Eliza Josephson-Rutter
LX Operator – Spencer Earwaker
Theatre , Spoken word ,
An abstract, energised focus on human intimacy
Review by James Littlewood 17th Sep 2020
At first, we don’t know quite where to go. There don’t seem to be any ushers. Then a guy suddenly appears and says, no, no, down here. He whisks us out of the weirdly gloomy foyer into a neon-lit backstage corridor, and we emerge through the nether-regions of the wings and onto the very stage itself of the Waterfront Theatre, home of Auckland Theatre Company.
Socially-distanced plastic chairs are dotted around a minimal staging scaffold, with sweet lighting, some cool mellow beats and the cast basically hanging with the audience as we all roll in. Great start. Already, it feels like an adept resetting of the source text: The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. In this 14th Century Italian collection of tales, a bunch of youngsters hang out on the outskirts of Florence, holing up in an old house avoiding death by the plague, telling stories of love to distract themselves from the boredom of a widespread pandemic. Sound familiar? We are – as they say – all in this together.
So: hats off the ATC folks who picked The Decameron as a vehicle to hitch a ride back to the land of live theatre. Perfect choice. They corralled a group of very hot writers, actors, musicians and techs to recreate a small sample of the original hundred episodes in a way that makes perfect sense to a modern, urban audience.
Writers Freya Daly Sadgrove, Leki Jackson-Bourke, Nathan Joe, Ana Scotney and Cian Elyse White deliver ten short narratives, each with their own kind of punch; each a kind of parable.
With a tight-knit ensemble cast, most pieces are narrated by a lead, with the other actors playing out the beats. The stories flow in and out of each other, but mostly all come together at a single subject: love – but from a wide range of angles.
I’m not going to break down each tale because that’s lame. It doesn’t feel like chapters: it feels like life lived at its shambolic and courageous best. With a deliberate focus on young talent, the show has a kind of pro-level youth theatre vibe, which personally, I love. Sure, it wears its heart on its sleeve, but don’t we all? Or rather, shouldn’t we all? As one soliloquy puts it: “Living in Auckland in 2020 with only white friends? That’s a choice!”
For all its pathos, it’s vigorously energetic, refreshingly honest and entertaining as hell.
We see deception, connivery, corruption and greed. I’ve never read The Decameron but anyone with the briefest familiarity with Chaucer will recognise the scallywaggery immediately: he’s believed to have read the source text shortly before his own Canterbury Tales, which follow the same frame story structure.
Sometimes it feels like Breugel is in the room too: people everywhere, getting up to no good and loving every fucking minute of it.
And of course, these vice-like qualities are all too familiar in the post-everything 2020s. Think you can write a love poem today without considering porn? “Just make sure you clean your browser history,” they say. “Pretty sure Shakespeare and Chaucer never wore condoms.”
Just roll with it because before you know it, you’re into the next one, and the next and the next.
Actors Carrie Green, Trae Te Wiki, Ravikanth Gurunathan, Jess Hong and Patrick Tafa gel like whanau. They make a glorious feast of the ingenious stage layout, putting the audience on the stage and in the round, then lacing the staging through the seating, putting the audience right in the heart of the action. They deal with the jokes, the pathos, and the technical challenges of a complex space under weirdo pandemic conditions with endless style and panache. They eyeball audience members constantly and it’s impossible not to feel like you’re part of the crew.
There are no bad seats in this house. At times the cast gather together in the confined centre, and at other times stretch a narrative literally through the middle of the seating, and into the farthest recesses of the entire room. We look into the otherwise empty auditorium as a heroic battle of epic morals played out in the back of the stalls.
The creative team under Jane Yonge’s direction create an abstract and energised world that focuses on human intimacy at precisely the time it’s most needed.
Live music by Kenji Iwamitsu-Holdaway of the band Yoko-Zuna sometimes reflects and sometimes guides the mood, is always interesting and never intrusive.
48 Nights on Hope Street is part of ATC’s Back on the Boards festival, marking the company’s return to live theatre. This particular offering explicitly focuses on young talent, and pulls it off with spectacular success, making theatre that is fun, relevant and thought-provoking. Let’s hope ATC can fast-track that kaupapa into the rest of their programme.
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