TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

16/01/2015 - 17/01/2015

Production Details


MIXIT gears up for their annual performance, taking place on the 16th and 17th of January. Renowned for producing inspirational and vibrant performance events that reflect the dynamic multi-cultural mix of Auckland refugee communities in 2015 – their latest, BITTER SWEET will see this diverse troupe of young performers give us their own personal take on that thing we call love.

Inspired by Shakespeare, informed by refugee and migrant experiences and situated in the here and now, BITTER SWEET mashes up drama, choreography and music to tell stories about love that’s taboo, love which has been left behind and secret love for things attainable. In a triumph of oral storytelling, we’ll hear narratives of flirtation and attraction, daydreams about desirable shoes and movie stars and the tensions that arise in the space between traditional expectations and new opportunities.

Every summer Mixit invites a multi-cultural team of people aged between 14 – 22 years to devise a site-specific performance event. They’ve been building BITTER SWEET over the latter half of 2014 with a cast of 30 hailing from the Congo, Zimbabwe, China, Samoa, Myanmar, Palestine, Tonga, Italy, Sri Lanka and India. Backed by a spirit of authenticity and play, their stories of celebration and sorrow will be told in a mélange of different languages. Their truths are palpable.

A creative team of leading artists will guide the BITTER SWEET project. Mixit Director Wendy Preston will facilitate the work alongside much-loved Kiwi actor and director Paolo Rotondo (Orphans and Kingdoms, When We Go to War, Strange Resting Places, Tartuffe), choreographer and dancer Justin Haiu (NZ Dance Company, The Arrival) and performer Tahi Mapp-Borren (Migrant Nation, The Arrival). They’ll also mentor three emerging artists, recently graduated from performing arts training, as creative interns.

Normally resident at Corbans Estate Arts Centre in Henderson, BITTER SWEET will see Mixit return to their old stomping ground, TAPAC for two performances in mid-January. This promises to be a powerful little package, a truly kinetic event that will make your heart beat faster.

Mixit is an inspirational multicultural youth project that uses the arts as a platform for empowerment, connection and for young people with refugee backgrounds to ‘mix it’ with migrant and local youth.

Friday 16 January at 8pm
Saturday 17 January at 2pm and 8pm
TAPAC : 100 Motions Road, Western Springs
Tickets: $12 General Admission, $42 for a Group of 4
Bookings: or 09 845 0295 more information 

The right mix

Review by James Wenley 18th Jan 2015

With a sprawling ensemble cast of young refugees, migrants and locals, in Bitter Sweet Mixit repurpose the Romeo and Juliet proto-narrative and respond with a unique collective voice that can only come with having so many distinct voices in the devising room. 

In this tale you’ll find aspect of the familiar. Two households, both alike in dignity, but lacking in humanity. Two star-crossed lovers. Some biting of thumbs and a wild party. But when Tawanda Manyimo, the seen-it-all-before narrator, intones that “never was there a tale of more woe than a mother, and her Antonio” any preconceptions are dashed. I had to check with my partner that I’d heard it correctly. Who is Antonio and his mother, and what is their story? [More]


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Vibrant diversity

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 17th Jan 2015

This vibrant feast of colour and movement is a real treat and is perfectly situated at TAPAC: The Auckland Performing Arts Centre. Mixit’s first production in a theatre (as opposed to other outdoor venues and spaces over the past nine years) is passionate and raw. Not always clear as a narrative drama, the vigour and energy driving the piece is its real strength.

More than twenty-three actors perform a work “inspired by Shakespeare” and devised by the company. Dramaturged by Paolo Rotondo, with Tahi Mapp-Borren and Wendy Preston directing, it has a fantastic team who ensured the work could be created in just ten days. 

The show is “informed by refugee and migrant experiences, and situated in the here and now”. It takes Romeo and Juliet as a provocation and weaves snippets of text into the action to create a drama about the consequences of hatred and true love that (eventually) does run smooth. In this sense it lies between a reworked version of Shakespeare and a story about the performers’ own experiences.

The beginning is very strong: “Two houses, both alike in dignity…” is performed as a tribal challenge. This is exciting and bold. Language native to the performers is interspersed with English and this rich palette is a treat not heard enough on Auckland stages. I am still interested in the refugee and migrant stories that remain beneath the surface here; perhaps a longer rehearsal period would allow this.  

Fantastic choreography led by Justin Haiu underpins the piece. This part of the work is strongly held in movement that emphatically connects the tension between the two families, as are clever and inventive stage devices, e.g. a truck made with actors and a tarpaulin. It’s inventive and quirky.

There are mixed levels of experience but all are equally committed to the ensemble, and this is to be applauded. Josh Mushagalusa Mutuga as Young Antonio and Tawanda Manyimo as Old Antonio are particularly strong. Munashe Tapfuya as ‘Juliet’ and Mohammed Al-Jamal as ‘Romeo’ shine equally bright with the joy of newfound love. These two are open, alive and effervescent. Padma Akula is convincing and bold, too.

TAPAC’s centrally-located black box theatre space is the ideal location for those not usually given a voice to be heard, and Wendy Preston’s Mixit work is to be commended for bringing diversity to Auckland. Migrant and refugee cultures are an important part of the fabric that makes up ‘the world’s most livable city’.

For me, it’s indeed bittersweet. The work is raw and not always sharp. No matter; it’s great to see and hear new faces on the local stage, and work like this warrants support. 


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