Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Road, New Lynn, Auckland
16/03/2016 - 19/03/2016
Brock’s team is just two games away from winning the competition and he believes that clinching the championship alongside his mates is the fairytale end before going to the rugby academy.
Through rose tinted glasses, the future seems bright, but how far will he go to make his dream a reality?
Balls takes an in-depth look at New Zealand’s infatuation with the game of rugby and how it’s religious status can affect the lives of those involved. The show allows audiences to access an otherwise ‘unseen world’ from the locker rooms.
Balls’ production holds an importance for us in Navi Collaborative because it allows us to bring together two worlds which usually remain separate (sports and theatre).
We know this story is ready to be told into one entertaining, engaging and thought provoking experience!
The goal for this season is to launch this play and see the vision of a full length play taken from an original 10 min script performed on stage. We at Navi, want the opportunity to once again show our commitment and desire to produce high quality pieces of art.
OUR UNIQUE ANGLE
Originally a 10 minute piece, Balls has grown up since it’s initial supervision sessions (thanks to theatre personality, Ben Crowder for his guidance and encouragement) right through to it’s workshop days with various actors who brought to the table their versatilities. Balls is now developed into a full length 90 min stage play and is accepted in the ‘Emerging Artists’ Showcase at Te Pou Theatre in New Lynn, Auckland.
“We exist to support one another in creative endeavours and find inspiration while collaborating with other artists” – Dawn Glover, Creative Director
Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Rd, New Lynn, Auckland
16 – 19 March 2016
Navi Collaborative is the passion project of four Auckland based artists who believe that humans should do more than seek happiness; we believe in chasing after the things that ultimately fulfil us. We, as Navi, endeavour to inspire and support, not only one another, but also other artists, their work across all mediums, and the community at large. Follow us for more information on our core, collaborative, and community based projects.
Our first collaboration took place in September 2014 with the Basement Theatre’s very own The Watercooler for The Schools Project. February 2015 invited Navi to perform at the Auckland Fringe Festival with a performance installation The Dummy.
Over 2015’s winter season, we collaborated with A Room With a View productions on a music video for a Brooklyn based band – Cigarettes After Sex. We wrapped up the year by collaborating with visual artists and photographers to co-produce our first Art Exhibition MANIPULATION | UNTOUCHED.
Jack Barry as BROCK
Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson as JAMES
Christopher Nicholls as CARLOS
Taylor Griffin as TOAST.
Joseph Nathan as ABEL.
Miryam Jacobi as GIRL.
Outstanding and passionate performances
Review by Nikau Hindin 18th Mar 2016
I once asked a friend if the first-five was five people or just one, so I hope you will take this as a disclaimer that I don’t know anything about rugby but still enjoyed a production which revolves around the ‘backstage’ of a rugby field.
Written by Joshua Baty and directed by Dawn Glover, BALLS uses our national game to examine masculinity in New Zealand. We follow the dynamic of team mates Brock, Toast, James, Carlos and Abel and witness the highs and lows of their friendships as they build up to their final game.
Deep rolling drums, played by the live musician Richard, welcome the audience into the dimly lit theatre, where we have an intimate view of a locker room. Abel, played by Joseph Nathan, begins with an Elizabethan-style prologue that introduces rugby as “a raging battle of a different kind,” full of “blood lust” and intolerant to weakness.
The set is simple and offers a window into changing room antics. Richard’s energetic drumming embodies the rugby games that occur between scenes and aptly mirrors the clashes of the off stage action. A clever directorial decision.
I am not prepared for the F-bomb to be dropped every second word but I am reassured by my coaching friend that this kind of language is a realistic reflection of what goes on in rugby clubs throughout our country. I can see their egos swerve, duck and lash out, as they tell funny anecdotes that point out each other’s flaws and victories.
The most complicated dynamic is the one between Toast the paramedic, played by Taylor Griffin, and Brock the rugby-head, played by Jack Barry, who is about to leave the team to train with the academy. Both are high achievers in their respective fields; neither is the hero nor the villain.
Hyper masculine and hard-headed Brock’s ego drowns the other characters which is the main issue in the play. Creating an anti-hero requires positive qualities but Brock from the outset is distant and difficult to sympathise with. Brock shows a man’s struggle to reveal pain and emotion for fear of being seen as weak. However his lack of emotional control and self-knowledge makes his weaknesses even more obvious to the audience. It takes a knock to the head for his true motives to be revealed.
James, played by Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson, provides hilarious comedic relief but also represents the creative types who navigate a ‘manly’, homophobic rugby culture that perceives performing arts as a feminine expression. He is not gay however and draws attention to the lack of stories that focus solely on men as men, negotiating a narrow and fixed idea of masculinity.
The only female character, Miryam Jacobi, is insultingly unnamed and is an accurate reflection of society’s attitude towards women in sport. Jacobi holds her own as ‘Girl’ and is equally, if not more powerful when she challenges Brock head on.
The realistic physical violence in the intimacy of Te Pou Theatre is intense and at times difficult to watch. The small changing room set sometimes feels too small and the actors may have benefited from a larger space so their movements are more fluid.
There are outstanding and passionate performances by each of the cast, to the extent that the individual character development overshadows the storyline. The dedication of each actor to their craft is incredible to watch and Barry’s ability to embody physical injury is painful to look at (in good way.)
Go and see BALLS whether you love rugby or hate it. It offers an insight into the off-field culture that isn’t often explored in media. It is a pleasure to see fresh new talent with fire in their belly’s and the passion to make their mark on theatre in Aotearoa.
Finally, to answer Abel: “glory lasts but a day… was it worth your labouring and toils?”
I say yes.
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