CONCERNING THE UFO SIGHTING OUTSIDE MT ROSKILL, AUCKLAND
07/06/2023 - 10/06/2023
11/11/2023 - 11/11/2023
Creator: Reon Bell (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu Ki Te Wairoa)
Director: Sean Dioneda Rivera
Concerning the UFO Sighting Outside Mt Roskill, Auckland is a solo theatre show that tells the story of a young man in 1980’s Auckland who is struggling with his growing belief in aliens, and his life as a closeted gay man.
Dana is an average office worker for an insurance company in Mt Roskill, his monotonous life and perspective unravels after he encounters a UFO while out late cruising at a local park.
“… wonderful orchestration of theatrical elements. The show is fun, at times feeling like I was on a musical road trip through Mt Roskill. The performance is charming, engaging, and at moments, honest and touching.” – ANJULA PRAKASH, Theatre Scenes
7-10 June 2023
RANGATAHI Season at Te Pou Theatre
11 November 2023
Performer: Reon Bell (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu Ki Te Wairoa)
Lighting: Michael Lyell
LGBTQIA+ , Solo , Theatre ,
Thank you, Captain Dana Hayward, may you and your creator live long and prosper
Review by Cushla Matheson 11th Nov 2023
Arriving at Te Pou to what is fast feeling like the heart of the Corban Estate, I am greeted, as always, with beautiful manaaki in Te Kōpua. The open space is warm and welcoming as familiar faces fill the foyer.
Right on time we are called into Tāhū Studio for the first show of the new ‘Rangatahi’ season Concerning the UFO sighting outside Mount Roskill, Auckland.
On entering Tahu studio, there’s no sign of UFOs but we are transported to the office space and a cubicle world of the 80s. The ringing phones, the office chatter creates the soundscape to accompany the visual image of Dana Haywood (Reon Bell) sitting at a small desk, wearing a button up shirt, tie, classic 80’s office wear, answering a landline phone with sound equipment sitting upstage under a projection screen. The audience is encouraged to fill the front rows of seats for what will be an intimate performance in the flexible theatre space of the studio.
Taking a moment before we start a glance at the program tells me that I am are about to see a solo show performed by the writer himself, set in the 1980s, telling the story of a young man struggling with his growing belief in aliens and his life as a closeted gay man.
As the show begins, we are joined on the big screen by images of Doctor Who and Captain James T Kirk who morph and merge with Dana Haywood. Escaping the mundane façade he maintains while in the insurance office, he joins the Captain and the Doctor as he explores the outer space inside himself with these familiar characters.
After all. aren’t we all just living in our own versions of lizard people inside human skin suits. Dana certainly thinks so.
As Dana prepares for an evening out, we join him and his high energy dance moves before we are suddenly thrust into the shadowy side of the closeted life and witness Dana Hayward’s sexual encounter with a man in Mount Roskill Park. Bell’s transition between worlds has moments of manic terror that draw us in to empathise with his struggle. The juxtaposition between the hidden world of the young closeted gay man and the extraterrestrial encounters draws the audience into the bold new world.
Drawing on these sci-fi traits and the exploration of self through the lens of the alien within, we watch the internal struggle manifest itself as an alien belief and we, the audience, office colleagues Stacey, Stephanie and David, and Dana’s only friend, we all celebrate Dana self-discovery and the peace that comes from acceptance.
We want more.
After lights up, and Bell’s departure, the audience sits, chats, processes, and doesn’t want to leave the world that we have all been absorbed into.
Bell is ably supported throughout this performance by excellent technical elements including the soundscape, visuals that fill the back wall, and lighting that effectively enables Bell to take us on the extraterrestrial journey with him. It’s all very well co-ordinated.
Thank you, Captain Dana Hayward, may you and your creator live long and prosper.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
A beautiful, delicate, raunchy way of raising questions about how we relate to each other
Review by Waitahi Aniwaniwa McGee 08th Jun 2023
“When you speak of god, you speak of …?! When we speak of god, we speak of OURSELVES.”
We begin with Dana, a casual office worker for an insurance company in Mt Roskill. His monotonous life and perspective unravels after he encounters a UFO while out late, cruising at a local park. This show is a tribute to home, to growing up closeted, to growing in change.
A beautiful, delicate, raunchy piece performed by the skilled talent that is Reon Te Aorangi Bell and directed by Sean Dioneda Rivera.
Bell brings a sort of… softness to the stage. His stage presence keeps the space alive even when we are consumed in darkness. When he interacts with the audience there is a lightness, an almost clown-like dare to play alongside him. It’s a really smart set up by him and his team because he later on interacts with other ‘people’ onstage… but it’s a solo… yet we can feel that these ‘people’ are onstage?!? I don’t know how to explain it but I’m still gobsmacked with how ‘in it’ I was.
I do believe that credit goes to Rivera’s direction. He and Bell pull infinite worlds into a single set in BATS Theatre. Combined with Tony Black’s lighting design, Bell is able to transit entire rooms, bus stops and offices with ease. The transitions from place to place are so slick, almost film like. I guess what I’m trying to say is the technical craft of the work is present, lowkey, yet so seamless and effective.
As a takatāpui they/them queer who grew up in the wop wops in the Bay of Plenty in the 2010s, I believe this show to be a homage to Mt Roskill across time – the 1980s / 2000s / 2020s even.
I come out of this show with so many questions. I’m thinking: Shucks is Reon’s mahi with the extra-terrestrial used as a metaphor for how illiterate we are as a society in our allyship with our queer communities?
Actually now I think about it… it’s that; that is the main question that I am left with from this show. How can we – as a collective / society / whatever you wanna call it – how can we come into relation with one another? How can we do so with the space to change, to get things wrong, to try again.
Is that even something we want to do?
Heoi, I’ll leave you with my fave quote from this show with absolutely no context:
“You’re all just sexual deviants, we’re all disgusting little perverts.”
Now hurry up and grab a ticket xx
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer