BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

18/06/2024 - 22/06/2024

Production Details

Written and co-directed by Cadence Chung
Co-directed by Hazel Perigo-Blackburn

Hebe Productions

Hector Berlioz, the 19th-century French composer, and Hector Wong, Chinese Wellingtonian, inexplicably find themselves in a room together. What else are they to do but talk to each other?

Hector is a short play written by poet Cadence Chung, co-directed by Hazel Perigo-Blackburn and Lewis Thomson, alongside stage manager Jackson McCarthy.

The play follows just two characters – Hector Berlioz and Hector Wong – and their attempts to find some commonalities despite the centuries between them. Travelling through many scenarios and eras, the two loosely catalogue their lives, in a dialectic style reminiscent of a Platonic dialogue.

Witty, acerbic, hilarious, and deeply poetic, this play explores how we interact with historical canons in the modern era, and shares personal experiences about racism, identity, and gender roles in contemporary Aotearoa.

Season dates: 18-22 June, 6:30 and a 4pm matinee on the 22nd
$15 unwaged, $25 waged, $40 extra aroha
Link to book: https://bats.co.nz/whats-on/hector/

Lewis Thomson – Hector Berlioz
Dennis Eir Lim – Hector Wong

Kassandra Wang – Sound and lighting
Amelia Lin – Pianist
Jackson McCarthy – Stage Manager/dramaturg

Cadence Chung, Hazel Perigo-Blackburn, and Lewis Thomson are all university students and young performers, now operating under their newly-formed production company Hebe Productions. They aim to showcase the vibrancy of emerging directors, writers, and performers. Their previous show In Blind Faith debuted to a sold-out season and national news coverage.

Cadence Chung is a poet, mezzo-soprano, and composer, currently studying at the New Zealand School of Music. Her nationally-bestselling chapbook anomalia was released in April 2022 with Tender Press. She also performs as a classical soloist, presents on RNZ Concert, and co-edits Symposia Magazine, a literary journal for emerging New Zealand writers. In 2023, she was named an Emerging Practioner by the Fund for Acting and Musical Endeavours.

Hazel Perigo-Blackburn is an actor, director, and scriptwriter. She has been involved in acting clubs and drama classes her whole life and is currently in her third year of a double degree of Film and English Literature at Victoria University. In 2021, her film Marum Chechil made it into the top 5 Secondary Schools in Wellington in the 48 Hour. She was the director for both the Wellington High School and BATS seasons of the musical In Blind Faith.

Lewis Thomson is an actor and director, currently in studying at Victoria University. He acted in a piece in the SGCNZ Sheila Winn festival nationals which won three awards, and has participated in the Wellington Young Actors' programme. In March 2022, Lewis entered the Fringe Festival with his emerging theatre group you be good i love you, debuting their show Tigers Can't Change Their Stripes. He also played Percy/Penny in the Wellington High School production of In Blind Faith. In this production, he will be playing Hector Berlioz, alongside co-star Dennis Eir Lim, who is playing Hector Wong.

Dennis has performed in Te Whanganui-a-Tara for over 10 years. Recent credits include his self-devised improvised musical/stand-up hybrid Watch Out Gay Panda debuting at the 2023 NZ Fringe Festival, a choir member in Dirty Work produced by Indian Ink and a singer in Under the Spotlight by UHMT. In that time he also attained a BA and a Master of Fine Arts at Victoria University of Wellington, along with behind the-scenes work on a variety of creative projects.

Kassandra Wang (she/they) is a Wellington-based composer and singer exploring interactivity, accessibility, and story-telling through sound. A keen poet, they adore the process of creating and curating texts for vocal works, and was a finalist in the National Schools Poetry Award. During their time at Te Kōkī (New Zealand School of Music) studying jazz and electronic composition, Kassandra founded Sounds of Te Kōkī, a concert series of student works championing diversity and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Recent works have explored politics and folk music in China, sonic simplicity, and play.
Jackson McCarthy is a poet and musician from Auckland currently studying in Wellington. He is of mixed Māori and Lebanese descent. He was a finalist for the Schools Poetry Award 2021, and was recently one of the Starling Micro-Residents at the New Zealand Young Writers Festival 2023.

Ruoxue (Amelia) Lin is a second-year classical piano student at the New Zealand School of
Music, she started playing the piano when she was four, and is currently studying from Dr. Jian
Liu. She has previously learned from Richard Mapp and Anna Maksymova, and was the
recipient of the Therle Drake Undergraduate Award in 2022. Amelia has performed in numerous
places including The Expressions in Upper Hutt, St Andrew’s on the Terrace in Wellington, the
Ron Ball Studio in Christchurch Town Hall and The Piano, she also was one of the finalists of
the 2023 NZSM Concerto Competition.

Jackson McCarthy is a poet and musician from Auckland currently studying in Wellington. He is of mixed Māori and Lebanese descent. He was a finalist for the Schools Poetry Award 2021, and was recently one of the Starling Micro-Residents at the New Zealand Young Writers Festival 2023.

Theatre ,

50 minutes

An adventurous challenge mostly met

Review by Tim Stevenson 19th Jun 2024

What’s life all about? What sort of life have I got? What sort of life do I want? What’s the good of having heroes? What’s the legacy of the Romantic movement? Hector is not afraid to tackle such large questions within the adventurous framework of an encounter between 19th century French composer Hector Berlioz and Hector Wong, a Chinese Wellingtonian Gen Z-er.

If this isn’t ambitious enough as a starting point, the play gives itself 50 minutes to get through its hefty agenda. As a result, some of the questions posed by its characters are given a fairly sketchy treatment, but they mostly get a decent run. The play makes effective use of personal stories about how the big questions play out in the lives of individuals. There are also some fantasy sequences that really take off. The story of Hector Wong’s great-grandmother, which has elements of both, stands out for your reviewer.

I find the passages about the life and thoughts of Hector Wong more convincing – they’re closely observed and comfortable with their own rawness. For my money, the character of Hector Berlioz isn’t fleshed out quite so effectively – there isn’t the same sense of looking through a window into someone’s actual life.

I find the first 10 minutes or so a bit slow, but once both Hectors are on stage, I’m quickly pulled into the story of the play and happily going with the flow.

Dennis Eir Lim puts on a strong, likeable performance as Hector Wong. He gives his character a relaxed, pragmatic quality that nicely offsets the abrasive self-doubt that comes up when he’s talking about his life.

Lewis Thomson’s Hector Berlioz is a less sympathetic and credible figure, and it’s hard to say whether this is down to Thomson’s interpretation or the script. Thomson’s Berlioz has quite the stiff upper lip, making him somewhat remote and hard to warm to. An interesting exception to this is the scene where he talks about his experiences with dissecting cadavers at medical school – it’s gruesome but you get the feel of being there with the guy in the moment.

Thomson also plays Hector Wong’s Wellingtonian friend at various ages, and is more relaxed in these roles. Thomson and Eir Lim work together smoothly and convincingly in all of their scenes.

Author Cadence Chung shows flexibility and range in changing voice between characters and contexts, reminding us of her other life as a poet. Chung also sings two Berlioz songs beautifully at the beginning of the show, sensitively accompanied by Amelia Lin.

Hector has been competently brought together by director Hazel Perigo-Blackburn (co-director Cadence Chung), audio and light technician Kassandra Wang, and stage manager Jackson McCarthy.


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