KONO Song cycle of a new town

FX2 THEATRE – SQUARE EDGE, Palmerston North

10/10/2018 - 13/10/2018

Production Details

From prehistory to 1877, you choose which version of Scotsman JT Stewart’s Palmerston will be told through music by one of New Zealand’s celebrated Māori instrument-makers and his pure-voiced Pākehā wife (Warren & Virginia Warbrick).

Recently returned from performing KONO at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Warren and Virginia are multi-genre artists who explore bicultural themes through music.

KONO includes new music by Pepe Becker, poetry by Tim Upperton and Manaaki Tibble and historical texts. Thanks to the support of the Earle Creativity Trust, the PNCC Natural & Cultural Heritage Incentive Fund and you for coming along to explore Palmy history.

FX2 THEATRE – SQUARE EDGE, Palmerston North
Wednesday 10 October 5.30pm
Thursday 11 October 3.30pm and 5.30pm
Friday 12 October 10.30am, 3.30pm and 5.30pm
Saturday 13 October 10.30am, 3.30pm and 5.30pm
$12 Full, $9 Concession

Theatre , Spoken word , Musical , Family ,

1 hr

Beautiful, gentle, artistic and clever

Review by Tania Kopytko 10th Oct 2018

Kono is a woven square basket, a larger version is used to cook meat and it can mean a square. At the centre of Palmerston North is our iconic square, designed by the surveyor and Scotsman John Tiffin Stewart. Papaoia, sometimes a name used for Palmerston North, and its square centre, formerly a very special swamp, has a dark past meaning in Rangitāne lore.

So starts this intriguing, masterful, dense and thoroughly researched story of Palmerston North, told, played and sung with heartfelt, knowledgeable depth by Toi Warbrick: the artists Warren and Virginia Warbrick. It is a collaborative work supported by great design (James Molnar), composition (Pepe Becker) and poetry (Manaaki Tibble). 

Not long back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they presented our bi-cultural history to an intrigued audience, this show is a sparkling star for the Palmy Fringe.  More importantly it beautifully, gently, artistically and cleverly presents the history of the Manawatu in a crafted but accessible way. 

Using the ‘pick a pathway’ method, five times the audience is asked to choose a pathway which then tells the performers which theme to take. This means that for the performers, in this season of Kono, they have 32 possible variations of the show. Despite the demands this might make on the performers, the show is delivered with assurance.  

The juxtaposition of a variety of hand crafted Māori musical instruments made and played deftly by Warren, complemented by Virginia’s beautiful, clear voice and narration (plus some instrument playing), brings us a variety of gentle evocative scenarios: the haunting song of the now extinct huia bird, a Rangitāne and a Scottish lullaby drawing on generations of history and the sounds of the wind, sea, rivers and land.

In this show the mind can wander wide and enjoy the soundscapes and the story. The audience clearly enjoys the ‘whole of audience’ interaction which draws them into the story and draws gentle reactions and laughs.

There are more performances coming up Thursday, Friday and Saturday so do not miss this very unique and significant Palmerston North performance. 


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