The Bone Keeper’s Story

Niebelheim, Christchurch Arts Centre, Christchurch

19/09/2007 - 23/09/2007

Production Details

by Kathleen Gallagher & Helen Moran
with rehearsal workshop direction by Jane Gilmer, Madeline McNamara and Martin Howells

THE BONE KEEPER’S STORY, a myth of our time…  In this exciting image-based solo performance by Helen Moran, the Bone Keeper, sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of life washed up on a beach, is less than willingly drawn into a deeper darker layer …

In previous incarnations this work has been performed to critical acclaim as a work in progress at the 2006 Dunedin Fringe and the 2007 Wellington Fringe Festivals [as Skeleton Woman]. The Bone Keeper’s Story has developed out of a devising collaboration between actress Helen Moran, writer Kathleen Gallagher, and director/ theatre artist Jane Gilmer, and has been reworked in response to ideas offered at the 2007 Magdalena  Aotearoa Easter Gathering.  The piece has been shaped and enriched through the creative contribution of Maggie Burke, Madeline McNamara and Martin Howells.

THE BONE KEEPER’S STORY – a powerful image-based theatre experience in Nibelheim’s unique subterranean studio space!

Ever attracted to yourself what you most deeply fear?
Had to face what you would more comfortably ignore? 

Let song, movement and poetry draw you into a bizarre journey …

Don’t miss Moran’s performance described at the WelIington Fringe as “compelling”, (Theatreview)  “brilliant to watch” (Lumiere)

Actor/storyteller Helen Moran has worked in NZ theatre since 1989, performing in a number of Mervyn Thompson productions and touring 2 solo shows: Swallowing is a Very Private Thing and Towering. She has been seen more recently by Dunedin audiences at the Fortune Theatre as Emilia in Othello, the Psychiatrist in Agnes of God, and the Mother Wolf in The Jungle Book.  Both Dunedin and Christchurch are homes to Helen’s Imagine Children’s Theatre productions.

Writer/film maker Kathleen Gallagher has been writing and publishing plays since the early 1980’s when she had a long collaboration with Christchurch’s Women’s Action Theatre.  Her play Jacaranda was produced at the Fortune Theatre in 1991. In 2004 she received the Sonja Davies Peace Award for her film Tau Te Mauri/Breath of Peace, and her latest film Healing Journeys had its Christchurch premiere on August 12th.

Director/theatre artist  Jane Gilmer has spent 20 years performing and teaching in Australia, Europe and Singapore, and she recently toured her solo performance of The Tempest, –The Tempest(t)sepmeTThe Bone Keeper’s Story draws on her training in Michael Chekhov technique and Rudolph Steiner’s work on voice and gesture.

Magdalena Aotearoa is a charitable trust which aims to encourage and promote the work of women in the performing arts.

Artist:  Helen Moran
Venue:  Niebelheim, under the SOFA Gallery, Christchurch Arts Centre, entry from South Quad.
Date/ Time:  Wednesday 19th September at 8pm, Thursday 20th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd September at 6.30pm and 9pm and Sunday 23rd September at 4pm
Cost:  $15 & $12 (concession) from Court Theatre (03) 963 0870

Limited seating available.  Booking advised.

performed by Helen Moran

Theatre , Dance , Solo ,

45 mins

Food for heart and mind

Review by Lindsay Clark 21st Sep 2007

The history of this work itself mirrors the play’s central image of foraging through memory and time in search of wisdom and fulfilment.  The initial performance piece, collaboratively devised and inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves, appeared as work in progress at the Dunedin Fringe Festival in 2006 and again at the 2007 Wellington Fringe Festival as Skeleton Woman. Subsequently, advice from the original author triggered the current revised work, drawing on the personal heritage of the two writers. The result is a deeply poetic and sincere offering, well suited to intimate theatre and solo performance.

The bone keeper is an ageing woman who emerges from a nest of driftwood to ‘tune in’ to past lives and ‘sift the dirt’ for their bones. The resultant telling is as free and fluid as the wind along the strewn beach where her steps take her, sniffing and probing ,dancing and chanting, always searching. The central encounter comes with a skeleton whose story has to be faced at excruciating cost, but with the rich reward of healing love. The bone keeper has faced the fear of what she might find and reached a sense of harmony with the natural world.

In practice the flow is managed with seeming ease by Helen Moran, who carries the mood changes with confident, supple vocal and physical skill. She layers images with sensitive detail of movement and tone, always focussed on the core theme of the importance for the living of acknowledging the natural world, especially the earth and the past buried within it.

It is interesting work, not in the mainstream of social commentary, plot or character-driven action. Instead, filling in a philosophical outline, there are shifting images and snatches of song, language from myth and poetry – food for heart and mind.


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