Online, Global

10/03/2022 - 03/04/2022

Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022

Production Details

Miss Leading

Join us for this digital performance.

Ever wondered what might have been if you hadn’t taken that job? Didn’t catch the return flight home? Stayed with your ex?

Spoken word artist Miss Leading will weave you through the history of other lives, in an exploration of the ideas of choice and chance.

Miss Leading has returned to New Zealand after building a reputation as a professional spoken word poet in the Scotland poetry circuit, including as a guest at multiple shows at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Her solo shows have sold out at the 2021 New Zealand Fringe Festival and Kia Mau Festival and have been described as ‘unusual’, ‘sternly realistic’ and ‘delightfully descriptive’ by Theatreview. Her poetry has been published by Folkways Press and award-winning minority platform, Mxogyny.

Kua noho rānei koe ki te whakaaro ka pēwhea koe mēna kāore koe I uru atu ki tō wāhi e mahi nā koe ināianei? I mahue rānei I a koe te pereina hoki ki te kāinga? Ka noho ki te whare o tō makau ō mua?

He kōrero tēnei e pā ana ki ngā ao o ētehi tāngata o te ao, nā Miss Leading I whakaemi. E kōrero ana mō te mana kōwhiri a te tangata, me te āhua o te tūpono noa.

Online event
Content will be available to watch from 10 March – 3 April 2022
Pay What You Can



Theatre , Spoken word ,

A lovely little jewel box of a piece

Review by Cordy Black 11th Mar 2022

Writer and main performer Miss Leading explores three parallel personal timelines with us, all neatly bundled into a half hour staged poetry reading. This is the premise for Another Universe – tangential daydreams that start in a contemporary pandemic setting and follow the logic of that particular fantasy.  

Director Moana Sina Ete creates an engaging series of time capsules for each chapter of poems, laying out the ground rules for our online journey with a satisfying efficiency that makes the viewer feel clever and curious. I’m seriously impressed at the way the digital medium and visual storytelling brings life and depth to narrative poetry. I want to see more stagings like this, and to see more spoken word artists venture further than a solitary microphone. It’s such fun to watch a writer and crafter of sound explore and play with all their new props and visual possibilities in real time.

Isha Ramitha Bhatnagar-Stewart, who is in charge of props and staging as well as owning a great voiceover moment – does some clever arranging in each timeline’s little diorama. There’s good finesse in deploying video and soundscapes here, too, especially in the first timeline ‘chapter’ that we explore, which has to rapidly create a bustling cityscape. A small change in background sound or a stroll over to a new prop is a great way to signal a ‘page turn’ and turn a book format into something watchable that doesn’t drag.

Performance poetry stands or falls on its cadence and the timing of its punches, so let’s explore where this show finds its feet. Miss Leading deploys volleys of rap-style assonance and likes to add a smattering of verbal gamesmanship. They use copious sonic symbols – ‘a’ vowels denote energetic expansiveness, sibilants signal uncertainty. These little vocal hooks help to connect each of the timeline narratives, calling back to familiar contrasts of emotion – certainty versus adventure, compromised identity versus naked bravery. The device works really nicely, indicating this is the same central character playing out each fantasy.

The narrator connects best in a more open style, where they give themselves room to play with pacing. It’s hard to replicate the live-fire exercise of spoken word in a room with an audience right there, and the first timeline chapter is an exercise in reaching out past the digital divide. We get to a good place, though, hitting a satisfying note in the final timeline chapter, which finishes on two of the most genuinely fun versions of the classic list poem I’ve heard in a while. In the final coda, Miss Leading finally escapes their lounge-room set-piece… hopefully for good this time. It’s a lovely little jewel box of a piece and well worth the watch. 


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