AOTEAROA – Found in Translation

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

19/03/2013 - 21/03/2013

Production Details

Poetry of our Ancestry, Story of our Belonging  

Printable Reality Actors Ensemble brings to life a contemporary performance/live literature project exploring the experience of becoming a New Zealander. Inspired by poetry from New Zealand and around the world, adapted for the stage and directed by Gus Simonovic and Gail Romano – Aotearoa is a cloud in motion, a place of becoming, where our personal journeys are at the centre of the story.

Multicultural society is our reality. New Zealand is a country of immigrants, a modern nation built on diversity. Historically, all New Zealanders have come from somewhere, some before some after. They have all bought parts of their tradition, language and culture – threads from which the tapestry of our modern day Kiwi-culture is woven.

Poetry as an art form is as old as human existence. Initially developed through oral tradition and folk song, it predates literacy. Spoken word evolved further through writing, reading, translation and performance, and it is so central to all cultures.

Over the past four months, favourite poems from all around the world were collected by various NZ communities, individuals and poets. In adopting and adapting them for this performance, parts of those poems are “lost in translation”, leaving behind the old homeland, and parts have been “found in translation” – finding a new home and contributing to the new culture.

The resulting collection of poems and excerpts is transformed into a 40-minute spoken word performance complemented by sound and images.

The project aims to use language and poetry to deepen the understanding of where we “come from,” individually and collectively, and what makes us who we are today. The story of our belonging, our uniqueness and identity is told using a blend of old modern voices, perceptions and expression.

Inspiring and transformational, this is a live poetry show like you have never seen it before.

Music: Dubtext
Visuals : Siri Embla 

Printable Reality Actors Ensemble:
Jennifer Austin, Steven Ciprian, Denise Snoad, Lee ah yen Faatoia, Jordin Lincoln, Daniel Pujol, Prema Cottingham and Rebecca Parr.
Plus special appearance by Rosanna Raymond, and surprise live appearances by Auckland poets. 

The Basement Theatre:
19-20-21 March 2013, 7pm. 

more info:  

Entertaining insights into cultural adaptation inconsistently delivered

Review by Aidan-B. Howard 20th Mar 2013

We have to start the examination of Aotearoa – Found In Translation by asking ourselves, is poetry theatre? Is the recital of thirty-nine poems and poetry snippets just that: a poetry recital? Well, the answer is that as long as a work contains a basic story and characters and dramatic tension and an interconnection of concepts, then we may presume that yes, it can be theatre. After all, much of Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas’ dramatic works are very poetical. (That, of course, may simply answer the question, is theatre poetical?)

I am highly impressed by the collection of poems and snippets delivered as Aotearoa – Found In Translation. Whoever selected them has a keen eye (or ear) for consistency and continuity. The subject is definitely that of coming to a new land and being a part of this place called ‘Aotearoa’. And each of these poems – some from international artists, some from local poets, some contemporary, some classical – blends smoothly from one to the other. The concept that where we come from is important to who we are now is not lost on us.

Unfortunately, not everything is smooth sailing. The actual performance itself is not consistent. We hear one-off poems from Ila Selwyn, Gus Simonovic and Michael Botur, all of them seasoned veterans of the Poetry Live scene here in Auckland. As such, they know how to deliver poetry, and their familiarity with their own works is obviously a bonus. Also, the two male actors of the troupe come across in a very relaxed and confident fashion: clear, rhythmic, appropriately subdued.

It is the women with whom I have difficulty: they are far too overly dramatic, sometimes at the expense of the poetry. The excessive gestures (big smiles, large hand movements) and the over-emphasis (clipped pronunciation, overt stress) would fit perfectly on a large, Victorian stage, somewhat removed from the audience, where projection and posture are the expected tools. But when we are only two metres away from the performers, the ‘performance’ has to be much more subtle and less ‘grand’.

It is as though they have been taught the art of formality, but not the art of familiarity, or that they have been handed a very valuable object, and rather than handle it casually, they hold it nervously at arms’ length. It is not that their acting is bad; it’s just not for this sort of stage.

Nevertheless, this fifty-minute show is still very entertaining, especially for poetry aficionados and for those who are interested in works on cultural adaptation. 


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