The Fence

We set ourselves the challenge of producing high quality work that drew upon both movement, drama and te ao Māori to stage the play The Fence and share it with the local community. Despite it being a scripted piece, we explored the role movement and sound played in the mythical world of the play, and how shadow work enhanced and obscured the reality of the drama.

We received three reviews which provided us with some great critical feedback and affirmation. We believe we created an engaging production that connected with a wide variety of people. Producing work of this kind is where our passion as a collective lies, and we are excited to build on our discoveries in this production and challenge ourselves to dig deeper with this work.

Dr Mike Ross came on board as our cultural adviser, he spoke with the cast about the origins of the legend of Rona and the Moon, and the role myth and oral history play in te ao Māori. This greatly influenced the way we approached the story and the meaning behind this work, as we wove te reo Māori, poi, Māori mythology and waiata.

Despite this being our first bilingual production, we believe this aspect of the show was the highlight for performers and audience alike.

The 2-week season at Bats Theatre sold out and we succeeded in attracting diverse audiences. As The Fence is a story centred around young people, we were especially interested in attracting a young demographic. We had drama and te reo Māori students from Onslow, Wellington High and script-writing students from Victoria University.

We also attracted a cross-cultural audience. We promoted the show as a product of bi-cultural Aotearoa, and drew upon existing networks of Māori theatre companies in Wellington including Toi Māori and Tawata Production. If we were to do this again we might take a different approach and perhaps take the work outside of a traditional theatre to the centres of different communities.

We believe the bi-cultural framework in which both the process and the production were rooted is one of the biggest successes of the project. We set out to develop our networks across disciplines and facilitate development for emerging and experienced performers. The creative team was made up of people with both dance and drama, and experienced and emerging backgrounds.

Karakia and wānaga informed a major part of our process, enabling the group to connect with each other and maintain an open dialogue about the work each day. Another key tikanga that guided our process was the sharing of kai every day. This supported whakawhanaungatanga and is an important way in which Brothers & Sisters show manaakitanga. We believe that this process supported the collaboration and development of emerging and experienced practitioners on the team.