THE WHOLEHEARTED

Iona College, Hawkes Bay

27/09/2017 - 27/09/2017

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

20/09/2017 - 23/09/2017

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

01/04/2016 - 10/04/2016

Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

18/03/2016 - 24/03/2016

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

09/09/2017 - 12/09/2017

HAWKES BAY ARTS FESTIVAL 2017

Production Details



WHOLEHEARTED CELEBRATION OF 25 YEARS OF AUTHENTIC NZ THEATRE

Enliven your spirit and open your heart when Massive Company brings its brand new production The Wholehearted to the Mangere Arts Centre from 18th – 24th March and Q Theatre from 1st – 10th April to commemorate the company’s 25 year anniversary in 2016. In keeping with the authentic style that Massive Company is renowned for, The Wholehearted weaves together stories of devotion from the very young to the very old.  

A brilliant ensemble of professional and emerging actors have devised The Wholehearted under the expert co-direction of Massive’s Artistic Director Sam Scott and exciting new director Scotty Cotter. A long-time Massive member, Scotty Cotter is coming on board under the Directors Lab programme and will be supported by Sam’s extensive devising experience to bring this energetic new work to the stage.

High profile actors Bree Peters (Shortland Street, The Weight of Elephants), Renee Lyons (800 words, Nick: An Accidental Hero) and Kura Forrester (What We Do In the Shadows, Supercity) will be performing alongside rising stars Pat Tafa (Westside), Denyce Su’a (Get It Girl), Theo David and Villa Lemanu. This effervescent cast of seven brings together a range of skills, personalities and backgrounds giving audiences a full and vibrant range of perspectives.

An honest portrayal of the extreme power of love, The Wholehearted was developed through conversations with the local community, asking them to share their own stories of affection and dedication. Crossing generations, genders and cultures The Wholehearted explores what we do in the pursuit of love; how going after love changes how we think about the world, how we behave, and how we value others.

In 2016 Massive Theatre Company celebrates a milestone of 25 years. A contemporary company that focuses on listening to stories of local people and developing them into powerful, ensemble based theatre that is full of vigour and heart. Massive opens the doors to young and emerging artists giving them time and space to flex their creative muscle through devising, performing and directing. The work they produce is distinctively kiwi, genuine and modern – a winning combination that has seen their shows and troupes travel NZ and internationally.

The Wholehearted follows in the wake of successful Massive show The Brave which saw critics urging audiences not to miss it. City side or South side, be sure to book your ticket to experience The Wholehearted

“…their stories strip away the layers of self and put very human stories and heart out there for us to admire and respect.” – The Brave reviewed by Theatreview 

“The heartbreaking, funny, clever mix of true confessions and raw athleticism from the guys of Massive Company has won standing ovations already.”- The Brave reviewed by New Zealand

The Wholehearted plays:
March 18 – 24 at Mangere Arts Centre, Mangere
Tickets from Eventfinda. For bookings visit www.even tfinda.co.nz or phone 0800 289 849
April 1 – 10 at Q Theatre Loft, Auckland CBD
Tickets from Q Theatre. For bookings visit www.qtheatre.co.nz or phone 09 309 9771 
massivecompany.co.nz 

THE WHOLEHEARTED TO TOUR NEW ZEALAND 2017

Massive Company is taking its beautiful 2016 show, The Wholehearted, on a national tour in September and October.

After a successful premiere season at Auckland’s Q Theatre and Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku, from which reviews described the work as “joyous, poignant, hilarious and expressive”, “relatable, humoristic” and “resonant”, The Wholehearted will embark on a 6+ stop tour of the country, including Whangarei, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hawke’s Bay, another Auckland season and more locations yet to be announced.

An honest portrayal of the extreme power of love, The Wholehearted was developed through conversations with the local community, asking them to share their personal stories of affection and dedication.

The result is a heart-warming devised theatre work that spans generations, genders and cultures. The Wholehearted explores what people do in the pursuit of love and how love changes us.

In the authentic style Massive Company is renowned for, The Wholehearted weaves together stories of devotion from the very young to the very old, as well as first crushes, Captain America and “mean moves” (Theatrescenes).

A brilliant ensemble of actors devised this energetic and powerful new New Zealand play, under the expert co-direction of Massive Company’s Artistic Director Sam Scott and long-time company member Scotty Cotter.

The ensemble comprises established actors Bree Peters (Shortland Street, The Weight of Elephants), Milo Cawthorne (Power Rangers, When We Go To War, Once on Chunuk Bair) and and Kura Forrester (Perplex, What We Do In the Shadows, Supercity) alongside rising stars Pat Tafa (Westside), Denyce Su’a (Get It Girl), Theo David and Villa Lemanu. The effervescent cast delivers a diversity of skills, personalities and perspectives.

Massive Company’s Artistic Director, Sam Scott, says, “We make our shows for those who love to feel the impact of their theatre experience; who want meaning and connection through seeing stories that make them laugh and dream around their own lives. We make theatre for those who want less injury and more beauty in the world.

“In this tricky, topsy turvy world of ours, The Wholehearted is a great antidote. This show is transformative and fills its audiences with joy and hope about living.”

For 26 years, Massive Company, one of New Zealand’s most innovative professional theatre companies, has uncovered hundreds of stories from the community and developed them into powerful theatre works full of vigour and heart.

Massive Company unites young and emerging theatre artists with established practitioners, giving newcomers time and space to flex their creative muscle through devising, performing and directing. The work they produce is distinctly Kiwi, genuine and contemporary.

I absolutely loved the joyous, poignant, hilarious and expressive storytelling from Massive Company’s The Wholehearted. The hugely talented ensemble cast displayed absolute heart and soul through their committed revelation of numerous stories that were immediate, relevant and easily accessible to the enthusiastic audience. – Theatrescenes

The cast exemplify in every way just what it is to be “wholehearted”. They are sincerely, utterly committed to the performance, unswervingly asserting the ideal of being honest with yourself and taking the time to figure out who you are and what you need whilst at the same time giving a similar level of respect to others. – Theatreview

I left the theatre, as I had sat for much of the performance, infected by the enthusiasm and energy of the actors, with a big smile on my face – What’s Good

Note: Massive Company are undertaking one- and two-day workshops for 14-25 year olds in each location.
More information

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/168138362

Web site: massivecompany.co.nz

The Wholehearted Tour Information 2017

Whangarei – Forum North  
Tuesday 5 September (schools performance 6 September)

Auckland – Herald Theatre in partnership with Auckland Live 
Saturday 9 – Tuesday 12 September (schools performances 11 & 12 September)

Hamilton – in association with Clarence St Theatre  
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 September (schools performance 15 September)

Wellington – Hannah Playhouse
Wednesday 20 – Sunday 23 September (schools performances 21 & 22 September)

Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival
The Blyth Performing Arts Centre (Iona College)
Wed Sep 27th
19:00 – 20:15 
Adult:  $42 
Concession:  $32 
Family of Four (Each):  $32 

Christchurch – Papa Hou
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7October

Dunedin – in association with Fortune Theatre
Tuesday 10 – Friday 13October


Performers:
Bree Peters , Renee Lyons, Kura Forrester, Pat Tafa, Denyce Su'a, Theo David and Villa Lemanu. 


Theatre ,


1 hr 15 mins

Leaves us feeling more full of life than when we arrived

Review by John Smythe 21st Sep 2017

It’s fair to say we are all born ‘wholehearted’. Then life happens and we slowly suppress our tendency to fully express ourselves in public. I mean imagine if everyone was publicly whole-hearted all the time! It would be overwhelming. But we still feel things privately and most people want to feel able to be wholehearted with someone sometimes, if not with everyone all the time.

Of course if you make a show about it, you can be wholehearted with anyone!

The classic hero’s journey gains its dramatic conflict from the overcoming of obstacles in pursuit of a quest: negative forces are confronted, the depths of despair are plumbed, inner resources are summoned up and the hero triumphs at last. The Wholehearted pits its relentless pursuit of heartfelt passion against our capacity to witness and relate to it. As re recognise and empathise with the stories that unfold, we inevitably recall and confront our experiences of wholeheartedness.

The thick red threads trailing over the left breasts of the seven actors in their GOT-esque Christine Urquhart-designed costumes suggest ‘bleeding hearts’ but that’s not how I’d describe what we’re treated to – on a stage backed by three gauze drops (Urquhart again), rendered magical by Jane Hakaraia’s lighting design and enriched by Drew McMillan’s sound design.

Each actor has a metal-framed cube covered in multi-coloured threads, and an ensemble dance routine suggests these objects have lives of their own. I interpret them as hearts to be followed, chased, captured, controlled – and I rationalise their box-like shapes as representing the prisons we create for them, to protect our hearts from hurt. There’s plenty of abstract movement time for everyone to muse for themselves on what this imagery means.

Bree Peters brings us pre-pubescent, swimming-goggled Harry, whose endearing passion is for the many iterations of Dr Who. Later we learn he had a girlfriend once … He returns throughout, to share what he’s been thinking and, as well as countering the naysayers with, “You know nothing Jon Snow,” I take it he’ll confront the big questions in life by asking, “What would Dr Who do?”

The others we get to know are older – twice his age or more – and confronting the whole ‘who?’ question in a more complex world: who am I really and how do I dare to be that wholeheartedly?

Scotty Cotter depicts a commuter calling on his inner ‘Captain America’ to give him the courage to converse with one of the many others isolated on a crowded bus. Pat Tafa’s cool guy can’t help but break out some radical moves, quickly brought back into check, as Milo Cawthorne verbalises his awareness that he’s not yet where he wants to be … Cawthorne plays the ‘inner voice’ for a number of the characters.

What happens to someone who declares out loud, “I have always wanted a big, messy, beautiful life!” Intriguing coping mechanisms are employed in the face of opposition.

Kura Forrester exemplifies the paradox of having a sister she fought with for years who is now her very best friend. Later she treats us to the trauma of a text-riddled breakup. Then we get the ‘ready for love’ and searching on Tinder phase … It’s poignant and efficacious comedy.

Denyce Su’a meditates on the nature of memories and we slowly become aware of a special daughter/father relationship. She too wants love – but does she wait patiently for it to find her, or is that wasteful when she has so much to give right now?

Villa Lemanu embodies the hyped-up Skype jockey, also trying to cope with heartbreak and generating more pain-based comedy in the process Later he turns to a letter Dylan Thomas wrote to his wife Caitlin as a means of expressing his wholeheartedness.

Of the many homilies scattered throughout The Wholehearted some will resonate more than others, according to your age, stage and circumstances. “Being single doesn’t define me. Nor does being in love.” That works for me. “There is nothing more pathetic than caution when headlong might save a life – even possibly your own” not so much, as a generalisation; the opposite could also be true.

When the energy and commitment of characters tips towards alienating desperation I bleed for them and welcome the counterpointing calmness, as I – as we all – assess once more where to find that balance in our own lives.  

However we deal with our own wholeheartedness, there is no doubt this Massive company, led by directors Sam Scott and Scotty Cotter, are wholehearted in their generosity, reminding us how much richer our lives can be when we have the courage to be wholehearted. I think there’s a very good chance that anyone who sees this show will leave feeling more full of life than when they arrived. 

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So Many Soapboxes, So Little Time

Review by Tim George 11th Sep 2017

The Wholehearted is a meditation on emotional vulnerability. Devised by its cast (Bree Peters, Milo Cawthorne, Villa Lemanu, Denyce Su’a, Pat Tafa, Kura Forrester and Scotty Cotter), and directed by the team of Sam Scott and Scotty Cotter, the show mixes stories, music and pop culture to examine our hangups about baring our souls to other people. 

I have not been to a show in a long time that managed to provoke such a massive shift in my overall impression of the experience. For the first quarter or so, I was adrift in a sea of aimless choreography, portentous musing on emotional honesty and a crap load of boxes being picked up, twirled around and put down. …

But then the dancing and the boxes go away, these inanities fade away, and the cast get to act out short-form stories and sketches of recognisable human behaviour …[More

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Quest for ‘love’ wears its big, creative heart on its sleeve

Review by Leigh Sykes 10th Sep 2017

Massive Company has a strong (and well-deserved) reputation for creating physically compelling work that mixes the personal with the universal, using its ensemble to inform and create work that has meaning on both small and large scales. This show was first seen last year and I had the pleasure of seeing how positively a group of young people responded to that production, so I am keen to see if that response continues. The great news is that it does. 

This touring production of the show features two changes of cast and has already been seen in Whangarei, before arriving in Auckland ahead of stops in Hamilton, Wellington and beyond.

On the Massive Company website The Wholehearted is described as “An honest portrayal of the extreme power of love [where] a mix of characters tenderly and humorously share with us their search for a wholehearted way of life.” This over-arching concept of being ‘wholehearted’ infuses everything about this show. While there is no over-arching narrative as such, the series of vignettes by the various performers are linked together through the themes that are explored in a variety of ways.  

The character of Harry (played by Bree Peters) bookends the show, telling us a story of his loves (including Doctor Who), likes and concerns. He is an intriguing character; twelve years old and in some way wise beyond his years. Peters presents him with compassion and humour, and his story touches on something very important about being wholehearted, which is that we sometimes need to not worry, but just follow our hearts. 

Following hearts is shown clearly and physically through a movement motif of grasping something with both hands, and then either pressing it to the chest or letting it go, which is often used to transition between sections of narrative, keeping the show constantly moving forward. There is also the symbolic device of a box that represents the heart in its varied, sometimes strong, sometimes cracked, states.  `

It is clear from the very start that this is a physically demanding show, and it is in the physical ensemble work that this show is most appealing. What might seem to be small moments (creating the movement of passengers on a bus; leaping onto boxes; unison movement and voice as a character states she wants a big life and is told ‘shame’) are effective because they are executed so beautifully. I enjoy the moments when the full cast is on stage very much, and appreciate the skilful execution of the physical action.

Small moments can hold great power, such as the gesture Denyce Su’a offers as she remembers a loved one who has died; the action of rubbing his Captain America shield for courage that allows Scotty Cotter to approach the girl he has a major crush on; the silent despair that Villa Lemanu shows when his girlfriend dumps him and then ignores his heartfelt declaration of love via Facebook.

This is also a very funny show, as individual cast members share their stories with us, supported by other members of the ensemble. I particularly enjoy the section where Kura Forrester states she is finished with a partner, only to then struggle against her heart and head (represented by Denyce Su’a and Pat Tafa). The physicality of the scene is great fun and Forrester generates gales of laughter as she berates herself for her weakness. Lemanu is a standout as he generates laughter and sympathy in equal measures by skyping about breaking up with his girlfriend.

These are just two examples of the way all members of the ensemble work together to create scenes that allow us to laugh at a situation while also considering our own thoughts about it. There are many other examples such as the ‘Tinderverse’ sequence, where Kura Forrester increasingly frantically swipes through a range of hilarious possible candidates for her affections, while the rest of the ensemble demonstrate and amplify her responses; the sequence where all of the ensemble members play out different scenarios of looking for love; the lovely dance sequence, led by Villa Lemanu, near the end of the show.

All the performers play a range of roles, showing great physical, vocal and emotional dexterity in their performances. Patrick Tafa draws great appreciation for his movement and singing sequence where he doubts himself, yet ultimately grows in confidence thanks to Milo Cawthorne’s gentle encouragement. Cawthorne often appears as a commentator on the stories that are being shared, making a direct link with the audience. He does this with empathy and joy, allowing us to ponder the questions that are being presented more deeply.

Although sometimes the fun and energy means the overall theme of being wholehearted recedes a little, the wonderfully executed array of characters and stories all eventually add up to something much bigger, as we explore a range of questions about what love is, and how we can be true to ourselves in many different aspects of life.

Identical costume items (designed by Christine Urquhart) allow the performers to play a range of roles unrestricted by appearance, and the symbolic box allows the idea of following the heart to be represented throughout the show. The set (designed by Christine Urquhart, and atmospherically and creatively lit by Jane Hakaraia), consists of three panels of fabric hung towards the rear of the stage, which creates different spaces for different moods or characters. It is used to highlight some characters and conceal others while also giving the ensemble space to create a range of different locations and moods. 

This is a show that wears its big, creative heart on its sleeve with committed and appealing performances from the entire ensemble. By the end of the show I feel energised yet reflective, happy yet slightly melancholy. All the performers deserve great credit for their varied and nuanced performances, which allow us to contemplate our own ability to be wholehearted and which encourage us to remember that some risks are definitely worth taking.

As Cawthorne tells us, “It’s a beast this life. But what a beautiful struggle.” This show is a beautiful way to experience that struggle.

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Wholehearted look at love

Review by Corazon Miller 05th Apr 2016

Comedic and heart-wrenching piece comes together in mini narratives.

It’s a risky ambition to tackle the meaning of love – how we find it, how it changes us and how it feels to have loved and to have lost.

Massive Theatre Company’s latest production The Wholehearted attempts to do just that in a piece of performance theatre that combines movement, voice and drama to dissect love from all angles. [More]

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Big-Hearted

Review by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth 05th Apr 2016

I absolutely loved the joyous, poignant, hilarious and expressive storytelling from Massive Company’s The Wholehearted.  The hugely talented ensemble cast displayed absolute heart and soul through their committed revelation of numerous stories that were immediate, relevant and easily accessible to the enthusiastic audience.

Despite running for a quarter of a century, Massive Company have definitely not rested on their laurels, particularly when producing The Wholehearted.  In fact their fresh approach to this new work can be described as a great combination of ‘the tried and tested’ experience that this company boasts, as well as mirroring current social trends. [More]
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Powerful and sweet without being saccharine

Review by Dione Joseph 02nd Apr 2016

The mandate of The Massive Theatre Company is clear: to create bold, authentic and heartfelt theatre. It’s not always easy and it certainly isn’t always possible, but last night’s Auckland City preview of The Wholehearted gave its audience exactly that.

It’s a charming production. A group of young folk explore what it means to take courage, step forward and be exposed. What does it mean to take risks? Talking to a stranger? Not texting him back? Reminding yourself that it’s okay to remember your loved one in the faces of strangers? All that and more do the young cast share with the audience – including the fact that sometimes, against all the best advice from your head and heart, sometimes there’s value in where you are and observing the world.

Over an hour we wander through memories, woven against the constant spinning of life’s banalities experiencing the poignancy of the moment through each character. 

The conventions are familiar, all the performers carry cubical frames that they toss, swing, throw, stand upon and carry throughout the show. The structure too isn’t surprising but it works and it works well. This could have easily dissolved into drama class activities but the skill, technique and commitment of the cast easily hold our attention as they share their stories.

All the performers have golden moments, not just one but many, and it’s a credit to the directors, Sam Scott and Scotty Cotter, that overall the show is taut, well-paced and moves with agility as well as agency.

All performers play multiple characters but there are some exceptional moments: Pat Tafa’s old Samoan father-figure requires no words as he sways with the rhythm of the bus; Theo David’s Captain America is unforgettable as he rubs his shield for courage; Villa Lemanu’s heartbreak over a text and lack of bro support … All are perfect portraits, all without lapsing into caricatures.

Fortunately, the energy isn’t always on high alert. Thomas Eason has an earnest and quiet air that pervades all his characters and is well juxtaposed with the tumultuous energy of Kura Forrester; Denyce Su’a brings a poised but reflective narratives that to her characters; Bree Peters’ tween youngster is the incorrigible Dr Who fan who sets the stage for this world.

That said, the tween boy played by Peters is probably a character that could easily go. It’s a device that is clearly used to leverage the story and while it does bookend the production it comes across as a tad forced and jars with the other mini narratives. The show also verges on dissolving into a romp through teenage heartbreak and the tinderverse (nothing wrong there) but the premise of capturing what it means to be wholehearted occasionally gets over-shadowed.

Nevertheless, the show is powerful, sweet without being saccharine, and showcases some brilliant talent for New Zealand theatre.

A suitably delicate set design (Christine Urquhart) with three panels and broad beige brushstrokes is beautifully lit by Jane Hakaraia. The choreography is sound and the actors, their commitment emblazoned in the sweat pouring off their faces, give a compelling performance. 

This is New Zealand theatre – worth seeing – and opens at Q tonight. Go along and check it out.

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Exemplary commitment

Review by Raewyn Whyte 22nd Mar 2016

For 25 years Massive Company has been presenting highly engaging physical theatre productions, both devised and scripted, designed to engage the under 30s in particular, though all productions have plenty of interest for an older audience as well. A broad array of topics has been explored over the years, all of them deeply relevant to life in multicultural New Zealand.

In this new devised production, The Wholehearted, codirected by Sam Scott and Scotty Cotter, questions about love and what it is to be true to yourself are brought into focus, along with a multitude of interlinked emotions, ideas, and states of mind and being which tend to be experienced in similar ways, despite social and cultural differences. 

The set is minimal: three scrims which provide the performers with a neutral space when they need to be present rather than off stage, such as when providing a supporting chorus or a series of contrasts to the main action, and an ovoid grey projection on the floor which teases the eye and becomes a kind of sacred space in the course of events.

Each performer has a metal-framed cube with three sides covered in strings of greys and blacks and occasionally reds. While these are at times sat upon, they also symbolise personal stuff: burdens, worries, fears and desires, things that can lead you by the nose or follow along behind you till you find ways to resolve the issues represented.

The performers all wear the same combination: a knitted grey vest with red strings down the front, grey skivvy or t-shirt, loose grey or black cotton jogging pants, and grey sneakers.  This effectively neutralises gender and allows each performers to assume a wide range of personae, particularly handy when Bree Peters is being 12 year old Harry, the Dr Who geek who thinks that the 10th Doctor and his Companion Rose represent the most loving relationship he knows, and when Theo David is in self-protecting Captain America mode.

As you’d expect, the work presents a broad array of situations and experiences about matters of the heart to which young people can relate, particularly those which involve social media and cell phones in making, maintaining and breaking connections. The cast move fluidly about, creating everyday settings such as the bus or train, stacking and repositioning the boxes to imply various scenarios, or moving more abstractly, swinging and swirling their boxes or reaching out to grab the moment and hold it in their hearts.  

Villa Lemanu busts some moves and brings down the house with his fabulous dancing, and Pat Tafa earns riffles of applause when he shows off his voice in some delightful moments. 

The broadest range of emotions is depicted, everything from the overwhelming swirl of having a crush and the headiness of first love, to the immobilising fears of rejection that stop you making that first connection, and the demoralising despair of rejection.  

There’s an array of deeper issues too, to do with figuring out who you are for yourself rather than simply accepting what others want you to be, and Thomas Eason punctuates the action with questions of a more philosophical nature as directions change.

At times you get a look inside a character’s mind, or into the depths of their heart, such as in Denyce Su’a’s heartfelt meditation on her treasured memories of her father, and the way these change over time. The whole cast gets involved in some scenes, such as when Kura Forrester starts dissecting and rejecting Tinder contacts based on the profile presented, and everyone illustrates or embellishes her reactions and responses.

The cast exemplify in every way just what it is to be “wholehearted”. They are sincerely, utterly committed to the performance, unswervingly asserting the ideal of being honest with yourself and taking the time to figure out who you are and what you need whilst at the same time giving a similar level of respect to others. 

I was lucky enough to attend a high schools show, and I cannot image a more deeply enthusiastic, engaged and affected audience for The Wholehearted. The students cheered and whooped and laughed and audibly responded to the many situations presented, and in their questions and comments afterwards they showed a deep empathy and respect for the performers and their various personae, as well as disclosing some very personal responses.  

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