Hataitai Bowling Club, Wellington

11/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

NZ Fringe Festival 2015 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Wellington Teens Hold NZ Fringe Festival Captive 

Wellington’s youngest theatre company is producing an original work for New Zealand Fringe Festival. 

The Wellington Young Actors are currently busy devising, fundraising, designing and marketing their show, To Sunder for March 2015.

Aged 12-17 years old, the students are using the New Zealand Fringe Festival as an opportunity to learn how to run a theatre company.

Local actor, Deborah Eve Rea who is currently touring Take Back the Hood which was nominated for Best Solo Show in the 2013 New Zealand Fringe Festival, is mentoring them through the process.

“These students are makers, creators, producers and facilitators as well as actors. They are involved in every facet of the process. Any local actor will agree that you need an array of skills to get your work out there. These students aren’t only learning to run their own company but they are training to be the future movers and shakers of the New Zealand theatre scene- and, after seeing the innovation they’ve brought to the table, I have no doubt they will be.” Deborah Eve Rea.

The students previously lent their devising skills to the Shoestring Theatre Challenge where they were given the task of creating a new work in one month with a budget of $20. Their Shoestring piece, Passage, was revered by the public audience and, of course, made their families very proud. 

For Fringe 2015, the Wellington Young Actors have created, To Sunder, a dystopian drama with more questions than answers. To Sunder takes placein a doomsday bunker built for a family of three but instead inhabited by ten teenagers. Cozy. To Sunder follows how the teens survive against the odds, each other and themselves (or not, no spoilers!).

To Sunder 
Hataitai Bowling Club
11-14 March 2015 

Youth , Theatre ,

Exuberant, spontaneous, lots to ponder

Review by Lena Fransham 12th Mar 2015

Stuck in a bunker with eight other teenagers in a post-apocalyptic world. How do you survive? How do you organise your micro-society in a space the size of a shipping container? What shape do you give the world you have been left with?

Under the direction of Deborah Eve Rea (who’s soon off to study at Globe), the play’s young cast (aged 13-16) have performed almost all other roles in production, from assistant direction (Hannah Durojaiye) to set design (neat job by Sol Maxwell).

Conceived, improvised and developed by the group over four months, To Sunder is an exuberant and spontaneous speculation on the options available for the generation soon to inherit the earth.

The nine argue and experiment around the shape of their politics, their culture, their personal relationships. They ponder the meaning of their incarceration in the bunker yet give thanks for its existence. Something is troubling them about their memories.

What is the significance of the yellow dress and whose memory does it belong in? Someone has déjà vu. They play I Spy but they have spied everything many times already. When the stranger, Luka (Hannah Durojaiye), arrives with her mysterious bundle, her memories are weirdly congruent with theirs. 

Considering the sizeable cast, character development is a surprising strength, aided by bunches of performing talent. The delightful marriage and honeymoon sequence highlights the charmingly portrayed characters of Alex (William Robinson) and Dedeker (Claudia Petrie), and Billy is comically officious as the would-be leader of the group.

Tom is effectively evoked by the youngest cast member, Gabe Parkin, in moments ranging from haunting to bleakly funny:
– Some day this will all be over.
– Do you think so?
– No.
These are emblematic of the mystery that surrounds the circumscription of all of their lives.

The suggestive rather than explicit storytelling hooks the imagination. But engagement is hampered by the fact that the narrative, which unfolds so organically amongst the games of the bunker-dwellers, suffers from pacing issues. More than one actor rushes his or her speech at times, to the point of making important lines seem insignificant or garbled.

The wordiness of some of the lines detracts from their impact and appears to inhibit delivery. I think even a few more judicious pauses would harness more of the inherent power of the drama.

Because there is lots in there. Questions, suggestions, provocations. Lingering conversations …


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