Aloha everyone….recently we toured our show The Brave to both Wellington (Hannah Playhouse) and Hawaii (4 venues over 3 Islands, Maui, O’hau and Hawaii) where it was received with much warmth and standing ovations.
Carla Martell and myself co-devised/directed The Brave with the cast of 8 men in 2011/2012. It had a very successful season at both Q Theatre and Mangere Arts Centre in April 2012, and then went on to tour the North Island in 2013. In 2012 after the 1st season we secured New York City based Elsie Management to represent the show. Our recent Hawaii season was our debut in the USA.
The show is based on the 8 men (aged 22-33 years) and their personal stories and experiences of bravery in all its many forms. It is physically based theatre. In 2006 Carla and I made another show with 8 younger men (aged 15-25 years) called, Up Close Out Loud, which toured to Manchester’s Contacting The World Festival (a World Youth Theatre Festival based at Contact Theatre). Both Scotty Cotter and Dominic Ona-Ariki were in that show and wanted to make a ‘part 2’ of this, which is how The Brave came about.
We are lucky to have kept the same 8 men together since 2012 (Scotty Cotter, Dominic Ona-Ariki, Jonny Moffat, Todd Emmerson, Neil Amituanai, Leki Jackson, Beulah Koale and Andy Sani. We update the show every time we re-rehearse it and make sure all material in it is relevant to the cast. It is a deeply personal show, but which has huge universal appeal.
It was wonderful to be based at Hannah Playhouse for our Wellington season (Massive’s 3rd Wellington season of work since 2005).
We had post show forums after every show, 2 full house High School matinees spanning 5 schools, 2 post show workshops for 2 High Schools and a wonderful night with Kava Club who hosted their Chop Sui Hui in the bar after the show. All of this meant we were able to have rich and meaningful engagement with those who were seeing and experiencing the show.
One highlight for me was at the first schools matinee where there were 5 schools present and a young man stood up and openly wept as he told of how the show had been a wonderful experience for him as he talked of the stories which resonated for him. When he finished speaking the whole audience applauded him, acknowledging his bravery in speaking so openly and from the heart.
We had wondered prior to performing the show in Hawaii how it would be received. As we reflected before the final performance we all spoke of how we could have been in NZ, as the feedback was almost identical to that over all our seasons. Common reactions were, “I didn’t know theatre could be like this” or “With men like you in the world I feel hopeful” or “I cried, laughed and listened, I have just been through a rollercoaster of all my emotions!”.
We had a wide range of ages, experience and ethnicity’s seeing the work throughout all 5 shows. Again we had post show forums after every show, I ran workshops in 2 High Schools and 2 University’s (with both students and arts educators/practitioners) and all of this meant we got to engage with the Communities we were performing in and have conversations with local people about the work and its impact. It was all very affirming and encouraging.
In 4 of our 5 shows we were privileged to have Hawaiian blessings bestowed upon us in a range of ways and settings. We had a local Hawaiian descent school of young men do a most wonderful chant for us at the end of the show in Hilo, Hawaii (The Big Island) who then asked charming questions afterwards and interacted with cast getting photos and telling stories to each other.
We did what is called a Youth Show where we made a 40 minute version of the show and then had a 20 minute post show forum with the students. We had never done this before (it’s very normal in the USA to do a modified version of the show for schools) but it all worked really well, so was good to see this could work.
So it was an extremely successful tour for everyone on all levels. Despite the speed and fast pace of packing in, performing and moving on, we felt we had great conversations and interaction with a range of people in all the places we performed in, which made it satisfying for us all. Our agent is now keen to develop a longer USA mainland tour for 2016/17, so we will see what eventuates.
Next up now is our free workshops for emerging performers between 14-25 yrs in the 1st week of the school holidays, by our Massive Nui Ensemble (MNE) having their first intensive of 2015 in the 2nd week of the holidays, with a public Showing on Saturday 18th April @ 7pm @ Freemans Bay Community Centre. If you would like to know more please go to www.massivecompany.co.nz or feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts on firstname.lastname@example.org . Massive Company is open access which means anyone at any time is welcome to come and observe any of the work so please do come and spend time with us if you would like.
Sam Scott, MNZM