BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

18/08/2020 - 26/08/2020

Production Details

Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School reopens BATS Theatre in August with a sensational Double Bill season that will leave you wondering what went on during lockdown.

Working collaboratively with industry rangatira, Jarod Rawiri, Victor Rodger, Hone Kouka, Kia Mau Festival and BATS Theatre, Toi Whakaari students proudly present new works, Pre Lockdown Post and Lockdown La Ronde.

Toi Whakaari Director, Tanea Heke says, 2020 was always going to be a significant year for the school, which is celebrating its50th Birthday Golden Jubilee.

“What a significant year it’s turned out to be. COVID-19 has seen our industry and students be more innovative and agile than ever before. Toi Whakaari has a dual role, to ensure our students have the discipline specific training for their crafts and to support our students to be independent and carve their own pathways.

“Hone, Jarod and Victor have collaborated with our students to bring these works to the stage. They are the first new works in Aotearoa that mark the influence of COVID-19.  To have these Rangatira walk alongside our students in every role, this is what makes Toi Whakaari unique”, says Tanea.

Double Bill is the final performance for Toi Whakaari Third Year Acting students, while work by students from First and Second Year Arts Management are producing the season, Third Year Design and Second Year Costume round out the creative team.

Pre Lockdown Post was created by Third Year acting students over the COVID-19 lockdown period, and sculpted and directed by Hone Kouka. The key narrative of this work follows where these students were at and how they coped over that tumultuous time.

2020 and beyond, Aotearoa is no longer the country we once knew. We dance, debate, bake, mourn, rage and celebrate through this time. A fired up dance crew, fantastical dreamscapes, internet drop outs, a funeral, a love story, a lone protester and the new future.  A lone grandmother with the onset of dementia, prospective hooks ups, inane internet challenges, and witnessing the new norm – this is Pre Lockdown Post.

“As a roopū this group of creatives has shown me we are in good hands for the future.

Courageous in korero, fearless in creation and unflinching in what pātai they ask. The world is not what we once knew, a wero was laid at their feet and this mahi is their response to that.”Hone Kouka

Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School Double Bill Season
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Pre Lockdown Post
Lockdown La Ronde
18 – 26 August 2020
6pm & 7.30pm
TICKETS: $25 Adult / $22 Concession / $20 Group 6+ / both shows $40 / 
Pre Lockdown Post may be seen in the theatre or on BATS’ Livestream platform from Friday 21 August, 7.30pm; Koha entry. 

See also: 
Lockdown La Ronde 

Ben Ashby, Chris Moore, Jacinta Compton, Jacob McKay, Jehangir Homavazir, Karishma Grebneff, Ola Ratka, Shanaia Boutsady, Tane Rolfe, Tioreore Ngatai- Melbourne

Director: Hone Kouka
Writers: The Third Year Actors
Choreographer: Braedyn Togi & Laifa Taʼafa
PRE written by: Chris Moore, Karishma Grebneff, Tane Rolfe
LOCKDOWN written by: Ben Ashby, Jacinta Compton Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne
POST written by: Jacob McKay, Jehangir Homavazir Ola Ratka, Shania Buffet Boutsady
Designer: Sylvie McCreanor
Sound Designer: Karnan Saba
Production Manager: Scott McCready
Stage Manager: Sofia Miernik
Deputy Stage Manager: Samuel Parry
Assistant Stage Manager: Jack Sutton
Costume Supervisors: Jess Robbie & Penny Wyatt
Lighting & Assistant Production Manager: Nick Batey
Sound & AV Operator:  Elizabeth Lambert

Theatre ,

1 hr

An absorbingly subjective evocation that will resonate strongly

Review by John Smythe 19th Aug 2020

The array of mattresses – stacked, spread out, some with people reclining on them – hints at Te Whare Moe on a marae, except they, the walls and the actors’ loose clothing are all white or cream in Sylvie McCreanor’s design. The dual impression of a welcoming, nurturing, caring space and the confines of a padded cell is ideal for this three-part evocation of the last six months: Pre Lockdown Post, written by the Toi Whakaari Third Year acting students who also perform it, directed by Hone Kouka.

The mattresses are stacked, re-stacked and otherwise arranged in various way as the ten-strong cast play out snap-shot scenarios that recall the unprecedented times we have lived through – and continue to live through – this year. As Kouka notes in the programme, “The story is raw, messy, fresh and is driven by the energy and urgency of youth.”

Pre – written by Chris Moore, Karishma Grebneff and Tane Rolfe – begins on 10 February 2020, when summer-bathed New Zealand is embarking on a fresh new year and becoming vaguely aware of another pandemic making itself felt in other parts of the world.

Meanwhile there are cakes to bake, parties to go to, relationships to enjoy, zombie movies to watch, social media to tune into, weed-dealers to find, casual racism to contend with … A creeping red line divides the voice of privilege from the one she harangues with judgemental statements that begin with, “Your people …”

So far so ‘normal’ with basic freedoms claimed and, in retrospect, taken for granted. Vigorous dancing – choreographed by Braedyn Togi & Laifa Taʼafa; sound design by Karnan Saba – celebrates youthful energies and appetites for fully-expressed lives, even as the implications of this overseas pandemic thing loom larger (remember when talk of the ‘coronavirus’ changed to ‘COVID-19)?

There seems to be no awareness of NZ’s first case (28 February) and scant regard for what’s already happening around the motu (limits on large gatherings, major events cancelled, international travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place, cruise ships exposed as hot-beds of infection, commercial imperatives v human safety …). As ever, youth has its own bubble.

I’m guessing Lockdown – written by Ben Ashby, Jacinta Compton and Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne – starts around 23 March (Level Three) two days ahead of Level Four Lockdown. A couple share memories of happy times past as they prepare to go separate ways. “I’m going to marry you one day,” he tells her.

25 March 2020 is heralded with thumping music from an 89.3FM radio host, aloft, who wants people to call in about the upsides of Lockdown isolation. But Pat, aged 83, only has complaints to offer until she is bumped in favour of a pro-Jacinda caller.

A young man has left it too late to book a flight or ferry to ‘home’. Relationships are already suffering under these circumstances. Two flatmates is counsel another to use this opportunity to take a break from his sex addiction. Elsewhere two ‘princesses’ (Kouka’s term), having to share a bed, joke about stinky farts and talk about boyfriends. Earnest young men offer Psalm 121 as a source of help …

It turns out cake-baking Kate from Pre is the granddaughter of cantankerous Pat and has made her a lemon-meringue pie – but early onset dementia is hinted at. The ‘princesses’ hip-hop routine suggests they are essential workers at a supermarket checkout. As a whanau goes eeling in the dark a Koro offers saucy family history and a pertinent whakatauākī.

Paranoia, hate speech and confronting it, fretting about where a relationship might go and concern about Pat take us to an uplift Pat’s Polish folk song with ensemble backing. The significance of a sequence involving a man in an adult nappy escapes me but the lemon-meringue pie comes into its own and I get the sense Lockdown needs to end soon.

A countdown to 11.59pm and the dateline 13 May 2020 – Level Two nationwide – segues the show into its Post phase, written by Jacob McKay, Jehangir Homavazir, Ola Ratka and Shania Buffet.  

The world and its people have changed. The relationship we witnessed earlier seems to be on shaky ground but may be redeemable. The return of sport is celebrated in miniature with gloved hands. A talk-show interview with Planet Earth reminds us Climate Change was our major concern pre-COVID and despite doubts as to whether the environmental gains made during Lockdown will be sustained, Planet Earth is resolutely optimistic.

Attention turns to the George Floyd atrocity and the Black Lives Matter march on 25 May. Mental health is touched on with ironic quotes from ‘There Is No Depression in New Zealand’, calling out a racist dad addresses the question of effective ways to deals with such tings …

A tower is built from folded mattresses. Is this a reference to the popular Depression song, ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime?’ – the line that gave Dean Parker his title for Once We Built a Tower, perhaps? We are left to contemplate is meaning and fate as our own COVID-19 determined fates, personal and collective, hang in the balance.  

Clearly the raw material played with in Pre Lockdown Post could be developed into a whole that becomes greater than the sum of its parts. As it stands, however, it is an absorbingly subjective evocation of an unexpected time in recent history that will resonate strongly with different people at different levels. 

Pre Lockdown Post may be seen in the theatre of on BATS’ Livestream platform from Friday 21 August, 7.30pm; Koha entry.
The other Toi Whakari 3rd year show, playing in BATS Theatre’s Dome space, is Lockdown La Ronde.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council