Hold Onto Your Horses

Otago Farmers Market | King Edward St | The Octagon, Dunedin

24/03/2012 - 24/03/2012

Canterbury towns and suburbs, Christchurch - Canterbury

18/10/2011 - 27/05/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

There was once a time when the local news was spreadfrom town to town by travelling players, who entertainedthe people with wit, song, and tales of adventure and villainy.

A new show performed and devised by Lucette Hindin, Lisa Tui and Damien McGrath draws on this tradition, planning a tour of Canterbury towns and suburbs with a portable stage which can be set up on any flat piece of ground. Audiences will be entertained by the adventures of Deidre (a weeper), Margaret (a fix-er-up-er) and Wade (a worrier) as they navigate familiar experiences from the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Come here your eyes, your ears, your hearts, to this direction where the earth bed parts, Smell mountains and rivers, valleys and nooks, taste dust and disaster, wet mud, silt and brooks…

Preview 18th October 6:30pm at Parklands Reserve  
then a tour of Canterbury towns and suburbs throughout summer and autumn …

To host the performance, or for more information CONTACT Lucette Hindin –
lucette@theclinic.co.nz or 021 175 9845   



Otago Farmers Market – 10.30am
King Edward St – 1.00pm
The Octagon – 6pm 

Performers:  Lisa Tui, Damien McGrath, Lucette Hindin
Stage and set:  Chris Reddington
Costumes:  Lucette Hindin
Makeup:  Brae Toia  

45 mins

Pleasurably larger-than-life characters

Review by Terry MacTavish 25th Mar 2012

Actually all Dunedin is outdoor theatre today (Saturday), as the students’ infamous Hyde St keg party means there are literally thousands of young people wandering the city in every conceivable costume and stage of intoxication. Actors are brave even with the best of audiences, but the clinic wins my admiration by the sang-froid displayed in its skilful handling of the moron who clambers onto the stage set up in the Octagon, to do a drunken down-trou.

These actors are used to adversity, of course, for they are from earthquake-ravaged Christchurch. Their laudable aim is to use simple street theatre to help shocked people process their experience, and share it with others. The devised script began with the true stories of those who lost homes, friends, and pets, but what could have been straightforward playback theatre has developed into something more flamboyantly theatrical, through the creation of lively clown characters to tell the stories.

In white face and colourful wigs the actors appear as minstrels; travelling players who quickly set up a trailer stage with a striking blue backdrop of shattered buildings. Each character represents a particular response to the disaster: Lisa Tui is terrific as red-haired Margaret, the feisty fixer-upper (and skilled handler of drunks), Lucette Hindin is sweetly poignant in her blue wig as sad Deirdre, while Damien McGrath makes a stalwart and convincing Wade-the-worrier.

The actors bring great energy and commitment to the play, with clever percussion and lively songs that ensure the audience stays happy. There are some sad moments, but ultimately everything, from earnest trauma counselling to high-visibility vests to the frustrating intricacies of red and green zones, is matter for gentle comedy. Finally the onlookers are encouraged to make some choices for the characters, and the outcome of the play depends on their decisions.

It must be wonderful for Christchurch audiences, children included, to recognise themselves in these pleasurably larger-than-life characters, and it helps the rest of us relate to the city’s misfortune, through a charming performance style that provides both safe distance and curious intimacy. It is reassuring to learn that for most, neighbourliness saves the day. And you have to laugh over the way in a crisis life comes down to how and where you poo: the great leveller! 

Which brings us back to the drunk dropping his pants. Fortunately Hold Onto Your Horses is a most worthwhile experience even under adverse conditions. I leave with a happy memory of one ecstatic little boy giggling helplessly when he is ‘mistaken’ for a stray cat and carried off, to be regaled with chocolate when the ‘mistake’ is discovered. As I have always suspected, even in an earthquake chocolate is true comfort. 


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Broken community’s issues confronted with style, commitment and sensitivity

Review by Robert Gilbert 21st Oct 2011

The responses to Christchurch’s earthquakes by the city’s artists are slowly but surely beginning to emerge. Some tentative, some bold, all born of trauma – deep and aching. Wayne Seyb’s paintings that line the walls of The Royal Commission hearings are a vivid and constant reminder to those guiding the top-level enquiry that bringing order to chaos is no easy thing.

The Clinic, a self-proclaimed experimental performance company, provides the first live-theatre expression of the devastation that our second largest city suffered. Like Seyb’s paintings, The Clinic’s performance is raw, colourful, messy, poetic and beautiful.

A transforming trailer becomes a small versatile stage, and is ideal for the travelling troupe to set up in any outdoor location. With funding from Creative Communities Christchurch, Hold On To Your Horses is intended to be free for Christchurch and Canterbury audiences.  (This review is of a preview staged at Parklands Reserve Community Centre, 18 October, 2011).

The Clinic is probably best known for its experimental theatre involving video projections, computer animation and effects, and electronic sound manipulation. Not so here. Hold On To Your Horses is very low-tech indeed. Just like Christchurch, post-earthquake, I suppose. Here, the actors resourcefully use their bodies, voices, props and scenery to create tension-filled music, terrifying soundscapes, and comedic songs. A rhythmic chant involving shovels and wheelbarrow whilst digging a backyard loo is as hilarious as it is ingenious.

Three white-faced actors play a multitude of community characters. However, it is Christchurch’s newest archetypes that hold the play together: The Worrier; The Weeper; The Fix-it-up-er.

Lucette Hindin provides a graceful physicality to her blue-rinsed Deidre – The Weeper. And she has reason to weep. Her house and her neighbourhood have been re-zoned from white to red. Hindin’s connection with Deidre is sympathetic and delicate as she dances around the trailer-top from one crisis to the next.

The Worrier, Wade, is ably fleshed out by Damien McGrath, a skilled mime artist with a fine ability to convey his innermost feelings with a remarkably expressive face. He and Hindin are a tour de force as they connect on stage with physical unity and clarity.

The subject of a recent TVNZ documentary, Lisa Tui’s passion and understanding of community theatre is heart-felt and honest. Her pure singing voice and robust audience interplay makes her helmet wearing, fluoro-vest clad ‘Fix-it-uper’ a charmer in the rubble. Tui deftly weaves in and out of the action, drawing the audience in as she artfully manipulates pace and energy, and audience’s emotions.

This is risky theatre. Is Christchurch ready to hear its own EQ stories so soon? Can we laugh through the tears and frustration? Is there any joy in the grief? The Clinic thinks so. And so do I.

This troupe is to be celebrated for tackling the very issues our community is still dealing with: zones, port-a-loos, aftershocks, death, and a broken city. They do it with style, commitment and sensitivity.

Watch out for Hold On To Your Horses playing in public venues throughout the summer months. You’ll laugh and cry at them – and yourself.  

[Robert Gilbert is Director of Theatre Arts at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School in Christchurch.]  


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