Asian Tales™: Native Alienz

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

12/02/2009 - 21/02/2009

Production Details

Seven Native Tales from Alienz Among Us

A groundbreaking theatre presentation offering Asian perspectives into our community and the wider world we live in…

The Oryza Foundation™, [6]ten™ and STAMP at THE EDGE® present Asian Tales™: Native Alienz – stories from the lips of Asia.

Tales of love, isolation, discrimination, human exploration, heritage and modern life interpreted into distinctive ethnic cultures, with a special taste of Rakugo – a traditional Japanese form of comedic storytelling, take centre stage at the Herald Theatre for a ten day season from February 12th 2009.

Asian Tales™: Native Alienz will highlight Asian perspectives and fresh new talent you may not have previously encountered. It is an announcement to Auckland’s communities that locally grown and inspired Asian theatre has arrived.

Featuring new works written by Hiroshi Nakatsuji, Renee Liang, Misa Tupou, Kiel McNaughton & Mei-Lin Hansen, Ying Ly, Mukilan Thangamani and Davina Goh, these 7 short format plays make up the first episode of the Asian Tales™ series:

Mount Head – written by Hiroshi Nakatsuji, directed by Tony Forster
In Rakugo style, with only a handkerchief and a fan, and seated in a traditional Japanese fashion, Hiroshi Nakatsuji tells the surrealistic story of an avaricious cherry eater and the cherry tree that sprouts from his head due to his gluttonous ways.

The Mooncake and The Kumara – written by Mei-Lin Hansen & Kiel McNaughton, directed by Alex Lee
1927: In a market garden in Manawatu just before the mid-autmn Moon Festival, a relationship grows between Chao, a Chinese man, and Alice, a Mâori girl. But in the shadow is Chao’s wife back in China…

Midnight, State Highway 01 – written by Mukilan Thangamani, directed by Alex Lee
A young Indian man and an East-Asian woman meet after a late-night accident on a deserted highway. As they wait for a tow truck, they find things to share…

Intrusion – written by Misa Tupou, directed by Gerard Urquhart
Despised and condemned for the colour of his skin, a Lone Figure holds on to his golden dream of being with his lover. When the pressure invades his soul, he snaps into action to fight for his rights.

Mask – written by Renee Liang, directed by Gerard Urquhart
A Chinese girl growing up in New Zealand tries to come to terms with her split identity, while her father tries to respond to his daughter’s changing ideas. Masks both hide and reveal… including bravery in the face of change.

The Loyal Customer – written & directed by Ying Ly
In the contemporary world of Auckland’s food hall culture, a pregnant girl who dreams of fashion school becomes a regular customer at a Vietnamese stall. An opportunistic action inadvertently changes the course of the chef’s life.

Citizen 3 – written by Davina Goh, directed by Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee
Sean is a young Malaysian-Chinese man having trouble living up to the expectations of both his nationality and ethnicity. A sudden turn of events exposes the effects of Sean’s upbringing.

Asian Tales™: Native Alienz plays:
Thursday 12th February – Saturday 21st February 2009 (8pm)
Matinee Performances on the 14th, 15th and 21st (2pm), no show Monday 16th
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®.
Tickets: $30-$35 ($10 discount for early bird ending January 31st & Under-25 standby tickets)
Bookings through 0800 BUY TICKETS (0800 289 842) or

Asian Tales: Native Alienz

Mount Head

Director by Tony Forster
Written and Performed by Hiroshi Nakatsuji

The Loyal Customer
Written and Directed by Ying Ly
Vang: Gary Young
Emma: Ema Barton
Young: Kat Wong
Chris: Hiroshi Nakatsuji

Written by Misa Tupou
Directed by Gerald Urquhart
Lone Figure/Politician: Leand Macadaan
Ensemble: Gary Young, Ally Xue John Giang

Midnight State Highway 1:
Written by Mukilan Thangamani
Directed by Alex Lee
Ray: Alvin Maharaj
Lisa: Maylee Allen

The Mooncake and The Kumara: 
Written by Mei-Lin Hansen and Kiel McNaughton
Directed by Alex Lee
Chao: Ezra Low
Alice: Amber Curreen
Wife: Mei Chan

Written by Renee Liang
Directed by Gerald Urquhart
Father: Ezra Low
Daughter: Maylee Allen

Citizen 3:
Written by Davina Goh
Directed by Yee Yang 'Square' Lee
Sean: Leand Macadaan
Penelope: Te Kaea Beri
Ping: John Giang

Poignant flavour to seven appetisers of home-grown Asian theatre

Review by Janet McAllister 16th Feb 2009

At the beginning of this evening of seven Asian dramas, a Japanese man wearing a traditional haori jacket, Hiroshi Nakatsuji, welcomes the audience with a mihi, in well-accented te reo.

Māori spoken in Asian theatre? Ah yes, but this is New Zealand Asian theatre, written by smart young urbanites, with a preoccupation many New Zealanders can relate to: the loneliness of the long distance migrant, particularly migrants’ children. [More]


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Life is simply very complicated

Review by Jessie Kollen 13th Feb 2009

Sometimes a play is more than just a play. 

Native Alienz is actually seven plays in one.  And it is certainly more than just a play for the Oryza Foundation because it is the flagship programme in their series entitled Asian Tales.  The Oryza Foundation was created to support performing arts in Asian communities, and Asian Tales is intended to highlight Asian Performing Arts in New Zealand.

At the risk of waxing too philosophical, I confess that I felt a thrill of delight, or rather several thrills of delight, throughout the seven short pieces that comprise Native Alienz.  Here is a collection of plays that as individual pieces and as a whole capture an idea that is at the heart of human experience: life is at once very simple and yet very complicated, individual and yet communal; we can be desperately lonely and yet inextricably connected to one another. 

Of course this is my very personal reaction to these Asian Tales, but each play also tells a very personal story that will engage audience members on a different personal level.  They are tales from the lips of Asians about what it means to be connected to one’s own culture and to a new one; to be far from home, or to be at home; to know one’s identity or to be searching for it.  Each tale revolves around one or two central characters in an exploration of individual and cultural experience.

The first of the seven plays, a tragi-comedy named Mount Head, is directed by Tony Forster and written and winningly performed by Hiroshi Nakatsuji.  This play is in the traditional Japanese storytelling form Rakugo, and acts as the opening point from which the audience experience widens as the following individual tales unfold.  Throughout Native Alienz the stage floor remains covered by bamboo mats and bamboo blinds form the backdrop, simple props and lighting augment the performances (although there were a few moments where the lighting was a little too low).

Mount Head ends and The Loyal Customer begins.  This fun and well-formed play, written and directed by Ying Ly, is played by Gary Young, (who is particularly good as Vang), Ema Barton, Kaitlyn Wong and Hiroshi Nakatsuji. It is a story about family and ambition in which a friendship is formed, at one of Auckland’s food courts, between a pregnant girl, Emma, and the chef of a Vietnamese food stall.

Now that our hearts are thoroughly warmed, Intrusions follows, written by Misa Tupou, directed by Gerald Urqhart and inspired by the Chinese gold miners from Otago. A Lone Figure, well played by Leand Macadaan, struggles against instinct, promise and compromise. Also appearing are Ally Xue, Gary Young and John Giang.  This one took me into a dream and a nightmare and a reality all at the same time!

A car accident is the catalyst for the fourth play, Midnight, State Highway 01, written by Mukilan Thangamani and directed by Alex Lee and Tony Forster. Although this less imaginative piece does not benefit from strong performances by the actors, it has its own charm as the story of two young people, an Indian man (Alvin Maharaj) and an East-Asian woman (May Lee Allen), who are both feeling a little lost, but begin to feel better simply by their literally accidental meeting.

The Mooncake and The Kumara, directed by Alex Lee and Tony Forster and written by Mei-Lin Te-Puea Hansen and Kiel McNaughton, tells its story in the 1920s through letters passed between a Chinese market gardener (Ezra Low gives an endearing performance) and his wife (Mei Chen) back in China.  This tale is a romance as Chao forms a relationship with Alice, a Māori girl (a much less endearing performance by Amber Curreen) but more than that this play describes what it means to belong.

Mask, written by Renee Liang and directed by Gerald Urqhart, is a father daughter face-off in which a Chinese girl (May Lee Allen) growing up in New Zealand tries to be both Chinese and Kiwi but with the added tensions from conflict caused by the traditional views of her father (Ezra Low), who is suitably stiff and brimmingly proud by turns.

The final play is Citizen 3, written by Davina Goh and directed by Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee. It is the story of Sean (another likeable performance by Macadaan), a young Malaysian-Chinese man, born in Manila, schooled in Dubai, living in Malaysia, who feels unconnected to his ethnicity and his nationality.  Sean’s girlfriend is played by Andrea Bates, her ex-boyfriend is played by John Giang and three other incidental characters are played with great humour by Alvin Maharaj. 

This last play leaves me in no doubt as to the success of this season of Native Alienz.  The plays’ interpretations of questions about cultural, national and ethnic identity, and of alienation and belonging, combine artistic exploration with reality. 

These seven plays were written specifically for the project Asian Tales, which in turn has as its aim the increase of Asian performing arts. The sum of these parts is that Native Alienz has achieved real art and wonderful theatre. 


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