reTHiNK Possible Worlds

Galatos, Auckland

14/10/2011 - 15/10/2011

Production Details

A multimedia show that shifts the way people think about mental health issues and the mind.

It is national Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct 10 – 16).  Established and emerging artists from five creative fields will be taking to the stage with a brand new multimedia theatre show that aims to change the way the public thinks about mental unwellness.  

Since being awarded a reTHiNK Grant in May, The Literatti poets have been collaborating with Etched Dance Productions, artist Penny Howard, live musicians John McNab and Paul Williams and film makers from the public to create reTHiNK Possible Worlds.

The show follows multiple characters as they journey out of mental unwellness and rethink their possible worlds. Madness is positioned as part of the human experience of navigating the maze of life. Reframed this way, mental unwellness becomes a character building, learning experience rather than something that need carry any stigma or shame.

Seven local performance poets have delved into their own lives to build the story. Etched Dance Productions have choreographed dance pieces for each poem in the story. John McNab and Paul Williams have composed a soundtrack which they perform live on stage to create a truly cross-genre theatre experience that reaches the audience through all of their senses. It all kicks off with a screening of the finalist entries from the public reTHiNK Possible Worlds film clip competition.  Films came in from all over the world with one of the finalist entries being sent from Berlin.

40% of New Zealanders have already experienced mental unwellness, 20% of us have experienced it in the last twelve months.  This means we probably all either know someone who has been through it if we haven’t been there ourselves. For reTHiNK Possible Worlds, some poets have drawn on experiences of family members and friends, others on their own lived experience of distress and recovery, but everyone was able to find a way to relate to the theme on a personal level.

Cast member, Miriam Barr, says, “This is a show about everyone, for everyone. Even people who don’t usually like poetry will like this. This is something truly different.”  

As part of the national Like Minds Like Mine project, reTHiNK Possible Worlds gets the theme of mental health out into the community in a creative and entertaining way. The aim is to start conversations and challenge the stigma associated with mental unwellness.  

reTHiNK Possible Worlds
plays at Galatos on
October 14th at 8 pm,
October 15th at 1 pm and again at 5 pm.
Tickets are only $10 from
Mental Health Awareness Week events will be taking place all over the country for the duration of the week. 

The Cast of the Show
Main Characters played by The Literatti:

A Searcher - Miriam Barr
A Thinker - Daniel Larsen 
A Visionary - Shane Hollands 
A Seer - Christian Jensen
A Rebel - Jai MacDonald
A Survivor - Simone Kaho 
A Translator - Maddy King 

The Inventors:

John McNab: Saxophone, Guitar,   
Paul Williams: Cello, Guitar, Percussion 
Rob Redgrave: Bass, Percussion

Etched Dance Productions
Amy Mauvan
Febe (Sarah) Holmes
Jess Quaid 
Bianca Hyslop
Georgia Giesen 

Moving Image:
Renegade House
Anna Forsyth
The reTHiNK Possible World Short Film Competition Finalists
Sandra Sarala
Lora Keyes
Celine Sumic & Olivia Duncan
Kate Kelly & Nick Mans
Miles Robertson, Tim D, Sam Leary & Petra Leary

The Youtube Competition has now closed - but you can still visit the reTHiNK Possible Worlds Youtube Competition Webpage 

Design & Photography: 
Erin Gaffney 

Art and stage set:
Penny Howard 

Doug Poole: Blackmail Press
Taimi Allan: Like Minds Like Mine, Mind and Body Consultants Ltd.  

Well padded and full

Review by Aidan-B. Howard 16th Oct 2011

It would be too simplistic to call reTHINK Possible Worlds a poetry recital. Drawing from the fields of poetry, performance, music, dance and film, this elegant work asks the question, as its by-line, “Who are you in the maze of life?” The artists tell us in their programme that “the aim was to bring creative people together with the community to tackle the issue of stigma and promote acceptance,” especially in the arena of mental health. 

The show started off with six poem-films, each with differing levels of cinematic complexity, but each setting up the theme for the show: that of the cry for acceptance when faced with life on the fringe.

While the 16 poems are clearly written by various artists or combinations, they all gel together with a uniformity of purpose. Some, like Miriam Barr’s Burying Management, dig deep into the desire to scream out and make a statement in the face of a world which expects us to be subdued (reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s Not I); others, like Simone Kaho’s Perception, echo the “black dog” of depression (the phrase popularised by Winston Churchill); still others, like Daniel Larsen’s Question, deal with judgement and criticism in a completely rhythmic and rhyming lyricism unexpected from a lot of modern poetry.

Many of the pieces talk of finding “a place to stand”, each individual’s tūrangawaewae, but they all seem remarkably to offer constant glimmers of hope, of escape routes and pathways to human dignity. 

Most of the poets (Miriam Barr, Shane Hollands, Daniel Larsen, Christian Jensen, Simone Kaho, Jai MacDonald and Maddy King) are well known in the poetry scene of Auckland, especially through the weekly Poetry Live venue. Their competence is well proven. The musicians (John McNab, Paul Williams and Rod Redgrave) also have a good existing reputation.

The dancers, I must admit, I have not heard of: yet to our pleasure, this did not diminish a great deal of skill in adapting their free-form style to the complexities of a small, interactive stage. 

It would have been a mistake to have focused on the dancing, as this would too easily detract from listening to the words of the performance poetry. Instead, the dance is allowed to wash around the vocal performer, wrapping them in a cooperative interplay. 

I would describe Rethink Possible Worlds as “well padded and full”. It was like eating a good meal: not so much that we are sore, not so little that we are still hungry. The season is already over, but The Litteratti have been an ongoing performance project for years. So if you have the opportunity to see them in the future, don’t miss out! They are worth it! 


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