Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

11/11/2010 - 20/11/2010

Production Details

Taboo tales for troubled times. A small boat is suspended in a boundless sea when three women clamber inside and fight for the right to stay aboard. They hide from the truth, push and kick, insult and lie; lost in their stories they no longer know what is fact or fiction. It is the arrival of a young girl which turns the tide.

Passage is an innovative multimedia performance which combines stunning visual images with text, film and physical theatre. Inspired by a life sized boat sculpture from Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco, the work is a new collaboration between Fiona Graham, Lauren Jackson and Stephen Bain.

Weaving themes of migration, identity, truth and reconciliation, Passage is a beautiful story navigating the hopes and fears of mothers and daughters all over the world. 

Herald Theatre, The Edge
November 11th – 20th
Tickets available from 

Running time
Start time 8.00pm, Wednesday – Saturday
Start time 6.00pm Sunday 

Ticketing information
Concession: applies to Actors Equity Card Holders, DANZ Card Holders, Seniors (65+) and Beneficiaries
Child (up to 18 years if still at school) and student price also available
Valid ID may be required
Group bookings (10+) call 09 357 3354

Inside women’s fantasies, handbags, stories, spiritualities, traumas, regrets and fears

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 12th Nov 2010

As part of the STAMP flagship programme at The Edge, which is aimed at fostering fresh New Zealand theatre, Four Afloat Productions presents Passage: a visually-stunning and emotionally harrowing new play written and produced by Fiona Graham.

It is not often you see new writing that is so polished in its presentation and so deliberate in its vision. Passage tells the story of four women who have left their homes and land, in order to escape from brutal realities of loss and violence. A young woman steers her father’s boat away from her abusive past in the depths of a boundless, nameless sea, until two older women clamber aboard; fighting for their right to stay on board.

Like Samuel Beckett’s plays, the detail of the play’s location and the logistics of the women’s stories are not entered into, because their journey is a universal one.

It is a surrealist play that is hauntingly purgatorial in atmosphere and existential in substance. The women are lost in the dark recesses of their stories; unable to tell truth from their own self-protective fabrications. They are unable to move on from their painful histories and memories of separation.

Interestingly, they are unable to move on from their identities as mothers, just as the young girl manning the boat struggles to row away from her identity as a daughter. The play may be commenting here on the need to move away from these restrictive definitions of female-hood, but somehow I felt that the play was instead clinging to these definitions to help unite the women and their motivations. As such, the women are given new purpose when they come across a young girl adrift in the ocean, pining for her mother.

That Passage was inspired by a sculpture by Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco is obvious when watching the performance. In art school, you are taught that sculpture is the art of creating something from the inside out. It must be three-dimensional in that, when you look at the skin, you should see the bones, the muscles and the blood cells. This play is all insides: the inside of these women’s fantasies, handbags, stories, spiritualities, traumas, regrets and fears.

These insides are rendered absolutely beautifully by local director Lauren Jackson, by designer Stephen Bain, and by the actors Rachel Nash, Antonia Stehlin, Donogh Rees and Lavinia Uhila, who support each other wonderfully.

Rachael Nash’s performance brings just the right amount of levity and humour to the mix, appearing incredibly at home on stage. Stehlin’s physicality is mesmerizing; perhaps coached by Movement Director Olivia Taouma.

Stephan Bain’s aesthetics and design do absolute justice to the haunting script, with the film projected on the back being beautifully timed and not once interruptive or histrionic. The boat design is an artistic installation in itself; making for moments of visual bliss when the dry ice weaves its way through the skeletal base of the boat and is sliced through with the wooden paddle blades.

I do hope that other production companies around the world will render the script so well, as it is sure to be produced again. 
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