Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College), 42 Lucknow Road, Havelock North

27/10/2018 - 28/10/2018

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2018

Production Details

Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival is delighted to be premiering the first of three new collaborative performance art works by Hawke’s Bay theatre-maker Puti Lancaster and Auckland-based performance designer Owen McCarthy (White Guitar). 

Freedom is Behind My Breath is the gift of one local whānau: their living story – both particular to Heretaunga and part of the fabric of New Zealand society.  

It forms the constellation of a family, their experiences told through their own words, voices and from multiple perspectives, weaving music, art and movement in its exploration of contemporary social themes. What is it to be a child, parent, adult within this whānau, and the question at its heart: what is a family? 

Puti and Owen’s exquisitely crafted, profoundly resonant form of social transformative theatre is extraordinary. “Our kaupapa is to connect people and share stories; our ambition, to grow us as people.”

Last year’s The Contours of Heaven went on to win multiple awards at the Auckland Fringe Festival, including most outstanding production. 

The Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College)
Sat Oct 27th, 7pm
Sun Oct 28th, 4pm
Adult:  $35 
Concession:  $30 
High School Student:  $20 

Performed by Eru Heke, Pereri King and Manuel Solomon 
Art Iwi Toi Kahungunu
Enabled through the generous support of an anonymous Pounamu Patron  

Theatre , Family , Dance-theatre ,

A loving bond created by sharing our stories

Review by Gemma Carroll 28th Oct 2018

I know from past experience of Puti Lancaster’s work to be patient and hold no expectation of a linear reveal from today’s show.

Her work and, in this instance, her co-creation with Owen McCarthy and their troupe – Eru Heke, Perēri King, Manuel Solomon and Ruby Reihana-Wilson – is like an art installation of sorts.

Particles of beauty trickle from all directions: voice, guitar, recorded soundscapes, dance, gesture, spoken word, lighting (both stage and natural), symbolic propsand sets constructed by performers, as they move through time and space. It is a sense of wonderment that we feel as an audience. We listen and watch carefully, holding with care the moments we feel connection and recognition in the story.

Today’s story can be owned by many of us. Any whānau can know dislocation, seek connection or have a child caught in the adult world of trauma and disfunction.

Our curiosity is aroused again and again by the charismatic Eru Heke, a 12 year old actor and dancer who, without doubt, is a Heretaunga talent to watch out for. He is a naturally gifted dancer, actor and singer. His boyish energy refreshing in the sometimes tempestuous journey of this story.

From the moment his impish face appears at the Blythe Theatre window, looking in at us, the people in the theatre on the hill, we are engaged.

He enters the building and circles the auditorium, cheekily greeting us and then removing his shoes to climb onto the stage. He proceeds to unpack and set-up his own little celestial compass of treasured titbits, as peculiar as one would expect from a boy’s school bag. 

As the performance develops, he finds a purpose for each little prop and creates beauty from the mundane.

Perēri King is a warm, loving presence, holding space for the younger versions of the storyteller to twirl, unravel and unpack the minutiae of a complex life. He is the songbird that subtley carries the whole performance along.

Manuel Solomon glides effortlessly between the two, weaving with his voice and body; the connective thread speaking the story of mother and child, making sense of the world under a sea of stars, through a layer of clouds, to the sound of the sea. Making wishes and burying them as secret stones. 

“Writing poems and little stories” which become the roofs on little red whares, housing the wishes, placed mindfully around the stage, linked by a red thread. The literal images, unspoken poetry for us to decipher.

From the flats, a story comes to the hill. A wish was made by a whānau, that their story be told and so it is. Granted by Hiwa-i-te-rangi, one of the Matariki stars, which we hold within the arms of our own Ātea a rangi, here at Waitangi where our Heretaunga rivers meet.

At the end of the show, as the blinds are raised from the theatre windows and early evening light spills in, Puti and Owen offer a time for whakamārama (explanations) and end the conversations with a reminder that the wish that was granted, the sharing of this story, to those of us that came, must be held by us now. 

The connection created when we share our stories is a sacred one and creates a loving bond. I look forward to the next in this series of three. Ngā mihi nui to the creators of this work. 


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