Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College), 42 Lucknow Road, Havelock North

06/10/2017 - 06/10/2017

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

24/10/2017 - 24/10/2017

Tauranga Arts Festival 2017


Production Details

Everyone has a story to tell. 

This special event will feature five Hawke’s Bay locals sharing their uniquely personal stories. Drawing on their own history, identity and sense of place, each participant will present their story, crafted under the masterful guidance of William Yang.

These stories will be presented as an entrée to Yang’s performance. Don’t miss this unique celebration of our Hawke’s Bay community.

The Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College)
Fri Oct 6th: 6pm & 7.30pm
General Admisson:$22

If you would like to book both shows please click here  

Tauranga Arts Festival 2017
Baycourt X Space
Tuesday 24th October
Adult $35, Student $25
(TECT $28, $20)
105 mins (with interval)

Theatre , Spoken word ,

1 hr

Deeply meaningful, relevant and inspiring

Review by Vivienne Quinn 25th Oct 2017

What makes us who we are? The age-old question of nature vs nurture or hereditary vs choices. We choose which events in our life become the most meaningful to us and those initiate our transformations – and often, in spite of all our planning and control, it’s those events that come from left field that can have the most powerful effect on our lives: the chance meetings, the accidents, the throw-away lines, or the mindless acts of strangers. 

The Story Only I Can Tell is all about those transformative events and is divided into two parts. The first half consists of four brave and courageous people, all immigrants to New Zealand, standing in front of a selection of their personal photographs, baring their soul and their story, sharing with us those beginnings, the people of influence, the places, events and decisions which have shaped who they are. Tonight, we are lucky enough to hear from four people with diverse backgrounds and reasons for choosing New Zealand as their home.

Richard Bialostocski shares the moving story of his family’s refugee quest, as a small boy forced to leave Poland prior to WW1. From living in barren and freezing conditions in Siberia (after a train journey of four weeks during which “people cried the entire way”) to the luxurious generosity of life as guests in Persia, in a compound with swimming pools and a degree of freedom.

Finally a journey for a permanent home came with the invitation from Peter Fraser, the NZ Prime Minister, who accepted 500 Polish orphans and adults to this land. Richard’s life then flourished: he found friends, love, family and success in his career. He and his wife now call the Bay of Plenty home in their retirement and when he says he finds this place to be “Paradise” you know it rings true, as this man has known places that were anything but.

Beverly Scarlett, the second speaker, offers a complete contrast. Hers is a love story, of a chance meeting on a boat in her native Solomon Islands which led to the great love of her life. Many long-distance love years later, Beverly and Kiwi nurse, Shane, married and moved to New Zealand. Three children followed, and a life together of such support and caring, until Shane’s early death.  Beverly’s story fills me with joy, from a woman with such depth and generosity in her heart.

Dhaivat Mehta is known around the creative community in the Bay as a dynamic poet and filmmaker. He tells his story of a life which began in India, full of vibrant celebrations, to his family’s move to New Zealand as owners of convenience stores. He remembers asking on his first day at school, coming from class sizes in India of 60 or more pupils to 25 or so in NZ, “Where are all the people?”.

Dhaivat’s story is one of creative inspiration and discovering his own spirituality, through his psychedelic experiences and journey towards being completely himself.

The last speaker, Cynthia Qin, shares the story of her early life in China and meeting Michael, an American, with whom she finally moved to the US. They married and bought a farm in small town where she immediately “doubled the Asian population”. Their life was beautiful and successful until the day when a complete stranger, looking to prove himself as a gang prospect, shot her husband in the head.

Heartbreak and loss overwhelmed her until, seeking to reconnect with her heritage, she met another Michael, in Chinese language class. Her new Michael saved her, and got her through the four year court battle to determine the guilt of her husband’s murderer. The new couple moved back to China, realised a dream with twin sons and then left the pollution of Asia for a clean start in New Zealand. Now training to be a photographer, Cynthia’s motto in life is “What really matters is Love”.

These stories deeply resonate with the audience and all, deservedly, receive a standing ovation.

This ties in to the second part of this show, in which William Yang, celebrated Australian photographer and story teller, takes the podium to share his story. This is where the evening changes and for a while, it confuses me.  In comparison to the four immigrant stories, William Yang’s story, presented as it is by an experienced arts professional is, for me, less effective. His tales of growing up as Chinese in small town Australia with a family who denied their heritage, to finding his own tribe among homosexuals, artists and creatives in Sydney, and reclaiming his heritage, is interesting, yet tangential.

There is no denying his story is fascinating and he has kept company with colourful and amazing people. Yet I feel a lack of direction here, I need more of a linear progression or a feeling of the interconnectedness of all the tracks he is taking us on. Finally, though, I feel I get it. Those faces in the photographs are getting older, and one by one, each has their final appearance. Each inspired his life, and added to the whole of who he is. Ultimately, his photographs and stories keep those faces and people, places and events, relevant and alive. This is true for the long dead and the more recently departed. Each had their part to play is in his life and are keep vibrant, through the retelling of their stories.

This is a show of two halves, one of which energises the audience with truth and bravery; the other impresses with complexity and trajectories. Both combine to make this show deeply meaningful, relevant and inspiring. Everyone will take something relevant away from this show. 


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Profoundly moving: both shattering and uplifting

Review by Jenny Wake 08th Oct 2017

Everyone has stories only they can tell. William Yang, an Australian photographer and performing artist, has come to Hawke’s Bay to tell some of his, and to help others tell theirs. His genre is ‘show and tell’, elevated to an art form.

First up on the evening’s double bill is the Community Performance, the culmination of a workshop Yang has been leading over the past few days with Hawke’s Bay locals. Each participant has made a selection of personal photos and Yang has helped them shape the stories behind them.

Now, alone on stage with just a lectern and laptop for support, Pereri King, Ricks Terstappen and Shannon Warren each quietly, almost matter-of-factly, talk us through their chosen photos, projected larger than life onto a screen behind them. 

Their stories are ordinary, intimate, funny, revealing and utterly compelling. They are moments, turning points, choices made, lessons learnt, happy times, cherished people and places.

King is a performer and conservationist, Terstappen a sculptural artist and Warren an educator. They each tell a unique, yet familiar story. What links them are the ways their life journeys twist and eddy, sudden and devastating loss, and love for family, friends and soul mates.

It’s a pity the community and professional performances were ticketed separately. As the audience swells for the second half of this double bill, the professional performance, I’m sorry for the newcomers. They have missed a profoundly moving experience that has left me feeling both shattered by the raw emotion behind the stories shared, and uplifted by their humanity. 

A community made up of such people as King, Terstappen and Warren is rich indeed. Every one of us has our stories. 

With his performance of The Story Only I Can Tell, William Yang takes this storytelling art form to another level. The onscreen images show his skill and artistry as a professional photographer. The gentle, reflective, almost hesitant way he tells his stories draws me in and invites my own reflection on the journey through life.

By the time Yang was born, his family had lived in Australia for generations. It wasn’t until a schoolmate sneered a racist chant at him that he had any idea he was Chinese.

A lingering sense of puzzlement, over where he ‘fits in’, pervades his life stories as he tells them now. He teases out moments, people and places he has caught on camera in rural Queensland, in Sydney’s gay community or as a celebrity photographer. As a ‘born-again Chinese’, he talks of exploring his family tree, embracing Taoism and, for the first time in his life, going ‘home’ to China.

Ultimately, his sense of belonging is rooted in the natural environment, places such as the creek he loved as a child. 

We see footage of the creek, a montage of serene backwaters and quiet meanderings, the clamorous places where it rushes, falls, dirties and swirls, and its return to more peaceful pathways. I think of the idiosyncrasies and commonalities of human experience. For a few minutes we are all lost in our own thoughts, together. 

We each have our own stories.


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