Front Yard Theatre for Isolated People of Tāmaki Makaurau

Published: Mon 11 May 2020 08:39 AM
Te Pou Theatre presents
Safely taking the joy of live performance to Auckland’s most isolated people
Dates TBC - Alert Level 2 Activity
Te Pou Theatre has found a creative new way to bring live performance to the most vulnerable in our communities – particularly our elders, koroua and kuia. Curating two travelling performance groups to take uplifting 10 minute music and storytelling shows to the front yards of isolated people throughout Auckland, Te Pou preparing to hit the streets with their Front Yard Festival as soon as alert levels allow.
Te Pou are currently welcoming registrations from aged care facilities and organisations working with vulnerable people who are ill or immunocompromised to share in the joy of performance and face to face interaction, catered specifically to their needs around health and safety.
The West Auckland based theatre venue had to re-examine their 2020 programme in light of COVID-19, and plans to present four shows and two festivals this year have been put on pause. A key part of their programming is inviting koroua and kuia to all shows performed at Te Pou, and holding a special morning tea and storytelling session for elders during their annual Kōanga Festival. With elders making up an essential part of the Te Pou whānau, Te Pou kaihautū Amber Curreen (actor known for Shortland Street and comedy webseries I Date Rejects, co-founder of Te Rēhia Theatre) had to get creative in reaching this vital audience while also ensuring their wellbeing.
“This year we may not be able to bring kaumātua safely to our theatre so the innovative idea of Front Yard Festivals was born out of the restrictive circumstances of Covid-19,” said Curreen, who is producing the new programme. “These travelling shows also mean we can provide opportunities for artists to create and perform during this challenging time for the arts sector."
Directors Tainui Tukiwaho (Billy in Billy T James, Step Dave, Almighty Johnson) and Jarod Rawiri (Hope and Wire, Mean Mums, Shortland St 2015-2018) have each created a short piece of theatre to entertain and enrich the days of our elders who have been highly isolated, and may remain in isolation significantly longer than younger or less vulnerable people. Actors have leapt at the chance to perform for kaumātua, including Regan Taylor (Māori Sidesteps), Tuakoi Ohia (BLACK TIES, Ahikaaroa), Acushla-Tara Kupe (Emilia - Pop Up Globe), Tom Knowles (Second Unit, SEED, Little Shop of Horrors), Jess Hong (Romeo & Juliet - Pop Up Globe), and Edmund Eramiha (Legend of Baron Toa, Mahana).
Behind the scenes, Te Pou are coordinating kaumātua stories to incorporate into the works. Reaching out to their existing communities for tales to weave in as part of the actors prepared pieces, the performances will also be partially improvised on the performance lawns, creating new live music or incorporating stories or requests from elders in the audience wherever possible.

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