Recovery Street - Mai I Te Po Ki Te Ao Marama

Te Pou Tokomanawa Theatre, Corban Art Estate Centre, 2 Mount Lebanon Ln, Henderson, Auckland

02/07/2024 - 06/07/2024

Production Details

Chris Ranui-Molloy - Producer, Director, Clinician, light/stage and sound designer.

Recovery Street

Matariki Invite to Recovery Street July 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, at 7pm-8:15pm

Tena koutou katoa.

I would like to invite you to 2nd showing and new season of Recovery Street, Mai I Te Po Ki Te Ao Marama. Recovery Street is a 12-week therapeutic creative program, kaupapa Māori-led community arts organisation unique therapeutic approach that utilises the healing power of performance. Where whaiora with lived experience of addiction and mental health challenges, tell their story on stage and through, film and visual art.

This year’s participants are diverse in their artistic experiences. Whether on the stage or through the medium of film, or visual art. It’s a night that will inspire and move you.

Audiences have said…
“It’s the best show I have ever seen!” “It was brilliant, completely inspiring.””I laughed, I cried and I laughed, it took my breath away.”

Participants have said…

“Participating in the Recovery St has been a truly transformative journey for me”.
“It’s allowed me to access deep-seated childhood trauma, that I previously found inaccessible. Despite years of clinical therapy with different psychologists.”
“I hadn’t achieved the progress I yearned for until I became part of this remarkable experience. Recovery St has played a pivotal role in my healing and personal growth.”
“This combination of stage storytelling, and this specialized therapy has empowered me in ways I never thought possible.”

We look forward to your support and seeing you this Matariki.
Nga mihi nui!

Participants' names include
Lusan Turton Participant / Clinician
Eugene Latimer Participant
Holly Beckham Participant
Josh Bradford Participant
Hayley Groat Participant
Mamaeroa Mana
Matt Peart Participant
Elan Kardas Participant
Shryses Orpwood Participant

Theatre ,

85 min

The stories are riveting, exquisitely shared, redolent with hope, and have components that are seriously funny.

Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 03rd Jul 2024

Tēnā koutou katoa

Ko Kōtirana te whakapaparanga mai

Engari ko Waitaha te whenua tupu

Ko Tamaki Makaurau te kāinga

Nō Ōtautahi au

Kei Puketāpapa au e noho ana

He kaiwhakahuru au i Ao Kaikoko

Ko Lexie Matheson taku ingoa

Tēnā tātou katoa

Kia ora, my name is Lexie, and I’m an addict.

It’s 17,520 days since I last took non-prescription drugs.

Yes, I’m that old, and it’s still one day at a time.

Mānawatia a Matariki. New year, new me. How appropriate.

Recovery Street: Mai i te pō ki te ao Mārama (from night into the world of light) is a work of pure and courageous theatrical realism. It is described by its creators as ‘inspirational stories, told by those who have triumphed over addiction’.

It’s that, and more.

The website tells us that ‘Recovery St is a kaupapa Māori-led community arts organisation that has been working with ‘hard-to-reach communities’ in the region, including rehabs, prisons, mental health services, and addiction services, to deliver a unique therapeutic approach that utilises the healing power of performance’.

Good old Doctor Theatre, saving lives since forever.

The show, as part of its preparation, went into Paremoremo Prison on 27 June for the first performance of Mai i te pō ki te ao Mārama.

Makes sense, even though it’s a step further than many of us would take, including this government who seem hell-bent on trebling the prison muster, but then giving back is a big part of ‘Recovery St’s’ exemplary kaupapa.

Established in 2018, ‘Recovery St’ is facilitated by mental health/ addiction clinicians and art therapists, who are arts practitioners.

So, it’s fair to say, ‘Recovery St’ is an organisation that does all the above and the outcome, in this case, is an impressive theatre work. Mr Pirimia Luxon, who loves ‘outcomes’, would be well pleased. Not that it’s likely that he or his three-headed taniwha would ever come near an event like this – they like their outcomes clean and tidy with lashings of selfie opportunities – and Mai i te pō ki te ao Mārama isn’t any of those things. It’s messy, complex, unpredictable, unnerving, unsettling, and dreadfully real.

It’s also brown people coming from ‘rock bottom’ – this phrase echoes throughout the show – finding a ladder, and climbing back, doing it for themselves, with outstanding success, and I’m not sure this outcome would fit neatly – or even messily – into the government’s recently announced thirty-six tick box, goal-driven, clean and tidy, quarter year, outcome orientated plan.

It should, though, because these admirable people know, better than most, what ‘back on track’ really means.

Mai i te pō ki te ao Mārama is exactly what our politicians should be experiencing, an example of a group of courageous, like-minded, street-savvy, ‘bottom-feeding’ whānau saving the world one person at a time, beginning fearlessly with themselves.

‘Recovery St’ blends ‘evidence-based Western therapies and Tikanga Māori principals with art therapies such as Drama Therapy, Role Play, and Theatre Therapy.

Mai i te pō ki te ao Mārama is built on the concept of ‘re-storying’ and it’s the perfect model

‘Re-storying’, we are told, is the process of reconstructing new meaning from one’s personal story, using mātauranga Māori as a base for everything. Recovery St delivers therapeutic creative groups open to the public on a weekly basis in West Auckland.’

Yep, changing the world, and starting in West Auckland. As a born-again Westie, I stand and applaud, and will do so loud and long.

Founder of ‘Recovery St’ is Chris Ranui-Molloy (Ngatimanawa / Ngai Tūhoe). He’s the Creative Director/ Consultant Therapist/ AOD Practitioner, has a Master of Arts (Drama) from the University of Auckland, is an award-winning writer, director and actor in theatre and screen since 2004. Chris combines his extensive artistic background and his academic experience with his lived experience of recovery from mental health and addiction challenges as well as his clinical role as an addiction counsellor.’

Why say all this? Simply because any organisation must have an inspirational leader and Chris is the ‘Razor’ Robertson of ‘Recovery St’. He’s a ‘been there, done that, got the t shirt’ sort of dude. He’s a servant leader who does himself what he asks of others. He’s in the show, he’s charismatic, a powerhouse, and so very, very watchable.

My son and I drive from home to Te Pou. The traffic is crazy, it’s hosing down, we stop at a petrol station for Pringles, Lift, and a veggie pie. The garage man gifts us a big muffin. ‘No charge’ he says, and my son is impressed. He likes free stuff especially if its food.

The theatre is quiet, the walk from the car park is puddle-hazardous. We find the foyer fullish, the welcome, as always, warm and efficient. I see a lineup of easels with portraits. They are of the cast and they’re excellent. I also note the TV screens are showing short documentary firms made by Recovery St artists. They are, like the portraits, really impressive.

Inside the black box – it’s a big space – we’re gathering. There is an air of expectancy, not the usual happy buzz. On the stage there are boxes positioned like stairs, a kid’s red trolley and downstage centre, a table of artefacts that I note but don’t really see.

Silly me.

A few forgivable minutes past curtain up at 7pm, the lights dim. I am reminded that these actors aren’t experienced theatre professionals but a group of folk with another purpose, a purpose that includes, once again, being out of their comfort zone. I feel for them. It’s satisfying, but never easy.

The stories are riveting, exquisitely shared, and redolent with hope. Sure, they’re anchored in pain and, in almost all cases, the horror of abuse, addiction, and self-sabotage, but they’re thoughtfully presented, and most have components that are seriously funny. While the stories are unique to each individual, the show is unashamedly an ensemble piece with each performer playing a range of supporting roles. The work is assured, and each segment is secured in its own kaupapa. The storytellers whisk us along with them and, while we get the full kit and kaboodle of life at ‘rock bottom’, the joy of recovery and whānau is what permeates the evening. Shared hope is infectious, and this bunch are immeasurably likeable, both collectively and individually. We end with the most outrageous narrative of the evening and the audience is engrossed in both the seriousness and the hilarity of the situation.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, we’re challenged by a haka, magnificent haka, rich and confronting, a team working as one, splendidly led. Then a brief curtain speech from Chris and it’s home time. Most of us gather in the foyer with the cast, unwilling to let go of the experience we’ve just had. I briefly connect with one of the women, we hold hands momentarily, and she gets me a lemonade. She points out her portrait. ‘Does it look like me’ she asks. It does, and I say so. It’s quite magnificent. She seems pleased.

We eventually drift into the night. Some of the men are gathered outside. One asks if we’ve had a good night. We both say we have. We talk briefly about comfort zones, and he says it’s his first time on stage. He was excellent and I say so. He seems pleased. I certainly am.

No, I’m not going to delve into the stories, nor am I going to single out the actors beyond saying they’re all wonderful. They deliver. I will mention the table of artefacts, however, that dimly lit collection of taonga. They constitute a theatrical masterstroke, one of those decisions that seem so simple yet without which the work would be seriously diminished.

This is a work we should all see, journeys we should cherish because there, but for circumstance, we could all go.

Special thanks to Chris and to Holly, Eugene, Shryses, Mamaeroa, Hayley, Matt, Josh, Elan, James, and those unnamed. You were all wonderful and this fellow addict salutes you. May your season bring you joy and the audiences you deserve.

And a final thank you goes to Te Pou for providing a space for work of this nature to call home and to grow.

Kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

Tihe Mauriora!


Chris writes: ‘please get in touch if you or your whānau need support through their addictions and mental health challenges.

The link to the website is Recovery St.


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