The White Guitar a Shakespearian Pacifica story could be titled, The White Guitar: A Migrant’s Tale.
The crowd in the Baycourt foyer is younger, hipper, more diverse than I usually see standing on that multi-patterned carpet.
I confirm my ticket and walk down to the pre-performance function. The room is packed. There is a buzz. Brown men line the wall inside the door. The drinks are poured the hors d’oeuvre have been sampled; I’ve come on after attending the opening of Colllider Scope the Mantis/Gray joint exhibition at The Incubator. The lovely Sam Hema greets me and makes sure I have a drink, something to eat.
I leave the warmth and hubbub and go upstairs to find my seat. There’s a notice advising that strobe lights are part of the performance. It’s a long time since I found out about the effects of flickering lights. I’m down the front – within touching distance of the stage.
The stage is open and bare. Bare except for the cushion-topped wooden banana crate seating and the white electric guitar leaning against a collage of items to the right. Four grey banners hang floor to ceiling. These are the screens against which images appear.
This production was cheap to costume – simple black clothing and the occasional lava lava. The most overt costuming the body art – the traditional and contemporary tattoos of all three men. They speak directly to the audience. It is migration, exploitation, pain, abuse and violence. It is redemption, survival and success. It’s the two-edged sword of music and creative expression. It is about the men: the women are present; the women participate but this is a statement about the plight of migrant men.
There are moments of laughter but I cannot laugh. These are the survivors. I have met the countless who have lost. Tears came. This was a performance which for me was as riveting as any Shakespearian tragedy, more so because the appearance, sound and content were more easily identifiable than doublet and hose.
I cannot remember a production that has held my attention with such a grip from the first word to the last sound. It’s on again tomorrow Saturday 15th October 2016 – if you can make it there, get there – you’ll not regret the insight into the Pacifica migrant world. You’ll not regret the insight into the world of non-European migrants.
The White Guitar is Directed by Nina Nawalowalo and Jim Moriarty: “the men you see on stage are telling their own story.” They tell you their story on behalf of the thousands who did not and do not survive.
The theatre has emptied when a small group of the audience assemble and they honour the now civilianly dressed cast and crew with a haka – Sam Hema replies on behalf of the manihere. Again, it’s serendipity that I am here.
This production is presented by The Conch:-
“for 15 years nationally and internationally acclaimed Wellington-based theatre company. The Conch have specialised in telling Pacific stories through a unique blend of visual magic, spoken word and original music”
It is part of a national tour in partnership with Tour-Makers.
“in 2014 the Performing Arts Network of New Zealand (PANNZ) was awarded the Creative New Zealand Touring Agency funding to deliver medium to large-scale regional and national tours of contemporary Theatre, Dance and Music. The brand for the touring agency is Tour-Makers”
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.