WILLIE'S WĀNANGA ON WHEELS – The Full Haerenga
19/09/2020 - 04/10/2020
Nau mai haere mai ki ngā “wānanga” o Willie! Ol’ Willie is normally found behind the wheel of the Northland Express pahi from Tāmaki to Te Taitokerau. Engari, Willie’s been in lockdown experimenting with the ol Zoom and every during Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori this week he’ll bring you a virtual road trip north – with all the “wānanga” that goes along with it! Part of our Whytangi Digital Theatre collection Willie’s Wānanga on Wheels is a satirical statement on the impact of the forced removal of Te Reo Māori from society in generations past, what it takes to regain our knowledge and the pitfalls of translation… Or is it?
19 September – 4 October 2020
The full Willie’s is here: https://youtu.be/xeMwo-sl7Yw
And all are available on this page https://www.tepoutheatre.nz/willie
Webcast , Theatre , Te Reo Māori , Family ,
Needs its tyre pressures checked
Review by Steve La Hood 21st Sep 2020
Well… it’s an OK idea to use a tour-bus driver as an interpreter of Māori place names and therefore the tikanga around them – but this play seems rushed, poorly rehearsed and rambling.
E ai ki the Facebook page intro: “Willie’s Wānanga on Wheels is a satirical statement on the impact of the forced removal of Te Reo Māori from society in generations past, what it takes to regain our knowledge and the pitfalls of translation… or is it?”
My question exactly… “is it?” Kāo.
Tyler Wilson-Kokiri is engaging as Willie the Bus Driver, but being constantly distracted from the purpose of the narrative (if there is one, see above) means that when there is a point to be made, it feels like another interruption rather than the tohetohe the writers want to convey.
The fact that it’s lockdown (so the bus tour is virtual via Zoom) isn’t clearly set up – or at least I miss it until half way through. So we’re viewing our bus-driver’s clumsy green-screen background set-up in his living room.
His flatmate/sparring partner, Tania (Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana), is a missed opportunity to focus the narrative. Her character seems to have no real purpose in the story.
We are (virtually) on a trip from Tāmaki Makau-Rau to Reinga, via such scenic marvels as Kaipara, Ruakākā, Mangamuka and Waitangi. At each place, Willie gives us a basic Te Reo understanding of the name behind the place or vice-versa… sort of. Only Waitangi seems to get a meaningful translation… the others are largely plays on words – or lost in translation.
Even Willie’s home town below the Mangamuka gorge road (is it Tūpeke?) has lost its translation… but that doesn’t stop Willie from waxing lyrical about the loss of language and the difficulty of re-learning it.
If the hua of the piece is for us to care for Māori struggling to retrieve their tikanga through Te Kai o Nga Rangatira, then we need more definite pacing from the comic to the serious. We need a more crisp delivery and a genuine character arc for the narrator. Viewers need guidance – even those who have clocked this kaupapa before – whereas this play seems to be talking to itself, not us.
Too harsh? Nah. Watch A Little Brown Lie to see how well this kaupapa can be handled.
Kia kaha Te Pou Theatre. Love what you’re doing. But Willie’s Wānanga on Wheels needs its tyre pressures checked.
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