HATCH 2022

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

14/09/2022 - 15/09/2022


Production Details

By Jackson Burling, Parekawa Finlay, Isaac Hooper, Gideon Smith, and India Worsnop

Five emerging artists. Three nights only. 

As Aotearoa’s only dedicated solo performance festival, TAHI Festival is a supportive platform for new talent to showcase and develop their work. Key parts of our kaupapa include valuing and fostering emerging artists.

We at HATCH, work with students of acting programmes from Te Auaha, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington, providing them opportunities to develop their craft through personalised workshops with industry professionals. Creating connections, during this time especially, is vital.

HATCH is a great opportunity for these six students to gain experience, skills and networking opportunities. Come support these beautiful emerging voices.

BATS Theatre, The Dome
14 – 15 September 2022
$20 | $25

For full details about accessibility at BATS, Click Here.

TAHI Festival
A celebration of solo artists, TAHI is a ten-day Festival from 8-17 September dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo performances from all around Aotearoa. With events across Pōneke in 2022, check out our website for all the details and to book.
www.tahifestival.com | @tahifestivalnz | #TAHI2022

TAHI Taster
Get more art for your buck with our TAHI Taster tickets! See any two TAHI Festival shows at BATS Theatre for just $30 – a saving of $10!

Solo , Theatre ,

1 hr 30 min

Variegated vignettes of value

Review by Cordy Black 15th Sep 2022

Five performers and three theatrical designers get the chance to use the full resources of the BATS Heyday Dome space to present 10-minute vignettes in this year’s HATCH showcase. The bigger and more versatile space is such a great resource, and this year’s students (from Te Auaha, Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington) clearly enjoy the possibilities open to them in their new milieu.

Each audience member gets emailed a brief before the show, so we know roughly what to expect. HATCH is wonderfully attentive to sensory triggers and other accessibility needs. It is such a great idea, and more shows should consider doing this. In addition, we start the programme with a big-hearted introduction from Director and Facilitator Emma Katene. Emma is a caring guardian of the space. She helps open the audience to give their attention and thought to each vignette.

(The programme refers to performers by their first names so this is the format I am following in my reviews for each section.)

Manuia le po, manuia le aso, by Gideon Smith

(Reviewer’s note: the title roughly means “goodbye/goodnight, hello/good day” in Samoan.)

This piece feels more like a showreel of one actor/dancer’s skillset than a coherent narrative. Gideon puts slightly too many ideas on display at once, which takes the wind out of them as a whole.

At several points in his piece, Gideon brings up poignant and strong conversations around the subjectivity of truth as relates to domestic cruelty. With his body and words he offers different perspectives on power, love and violence, shadow and light in daily life. This theme of subjective experience lands really solidly. Gideon could easily tease it out into a solid and emotionally grounded piece of long-form work.

Gideon’s power-play with physicality and gestural contrast is compelling to watch. He excels at a kind of flowing, instinctive movement that harnesses freeform mime and dance to enact a brutal yet freeing experience. He has a dynamic and strong character as a solo dancer.

Gideon can get sidetracked into humour and in-jokes which make no sense to an audience of strangers – this lets him down. Gideon’s light shines better in the moments where he gives himself permission to explore the darker tones of his personal subject matter more directly. This is where his candour recaptures the audience and he hits his stride.

Plug, by Isaac Hooper

This vignette comes as close as one can get to accurately capturing life with aphasia and brain injury, in all its discombobulation and hullabaloo. Isaac shows us disorienting time loops, how self-expression through music can enable jumbled words to come out, as well as demonstrating the gleeful obsession with echolalia and phonetic acrobatics that often accompanies brain trauma.

Noise, colour and costume become great stand-ins for the experience of confusion, loss and slow recovery. Kudos to the lighting designer for executing some wonderfully timed lighting state changes. The vocoder and electronic loop devices are great tools for sonic scene building.

However, an audience that doesn’t understand brain injuries isn’t going to understand that this is a sensory autobiography of Isaac. They might assume they are watching a self-indulgent bit of psychedelia, which would do him a real disservice. It’d be great to support Isaac’s demonstrations with an adjoining narrative to supply context and help educate viewers about what is going on and why it has emotional weight.

The Collector, by Parekawa Finlay

Parekawa presents incredibly timely and fascinating subject matter which coincides perfectly with the narratives of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. It’s an elegant little display piece that could easily be built out with more scene work or side dialogues / monologues into a powerful freestanding work.

Parekawa delivers an effective establishing scene and introduces interleaving, conflicting narratives and viewpoints about a real and problematic colonial figure – the titular Collector. She manages to hit a nerve of acute cultural cringe that resonates for anyone born in Aotearoa, swiftly, diplomatically and absolutely to the point.

Props and costume are deployed by Parekawa in an attempt to switch between personas during the vignette. Sometimes this works and sometimes not. For example, it feels as though Parekawa embodies a similar narrative voice across her Museum Curator and Kaitiaki / Observer personas, which are meant to be separate identities. The Curator character could become a second actor if this narrative were extended into a longer form. This would create a lively dialogue opportunity that would deepen the sense of contrast between the conflicting stories about our Pākehā appropriator.

Unpredictable Mind, by India Worsnop

India gifts us an effective shoebox scene with plenty of familiar Absurdist overtones. It’s reminiscent of Beckett and the content is a complete theatre in-joke. This vignette is probably a more expected piece of content in a body of student work.

The premise of this nicely-written and neatly timed sketch cheats just a little bit by placing India, our solo actor, in comedic conflict with a disembodied narrative voice (also voiced by India) – making this a two-header play by stealth – but it’s a funny device all the same.

India is engaging, there’s a nice payoff and the audience is warm and delighted at the end. Would the idea work beyond this vignette? Probably not, unless it was part of a sketch show, but that’s totally fine.

CAUTION: WET FLOOR by Jackson Burling

Jackson brings us uninterrupted Chaplinesque body work with a person, a mop and a bucket. This offering doesn’t make compromises around the constraints of the solo format, which is admirable. Jackson could take his core character onto any stage; indeed, he intends to turn his janitor act into a long-form show.

However, Jackson needs more immersion and focus to really delve into effective clowning for the long haul. We get glimpses of promise but little continuity of energy across this short timeframe. Clowning is a patient art that hinges on commitment. If Jackson can be decisive and consistent about the exact relationship between his character and his audience, this will make his world-building significantly more effective.

Some improv experience and more vulnerable experimentation would give Jackson the right skillset to really solidify the essence of a promising and funky character, and give him the staying power to engage an audience over a full show.


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