- The Forge
Created by Rutene Spooner and Holly Chappell
Directed by Holly Chappell
Featuring Kim Garrett, Justin Rogers & Laura Hasson
A new bi-lingual tale of wonder and delight from the same creative team that created Māui and the Sun.
Whakamīharotia ngā whetu o Matariki. Whāia te iti Kahurangi.
The Court Theatre will bring mountains, oceans, sailing ships and stars to your school as young Kahurangi explores the skies above to discover the cultural, spiritual and personal meaning of Matariki.
Kahurangi embarks on a unique journey of discovery to visit the seven stars of Matariki, a star constellation representing a whānau (family) of six sisters and their mother, Matariki.
‘Matariki – the Little Eyes in the Sky’ tells the story of Kahurangi and her adventure to meet each of the sisters and their nurturing mother. Along the way she is given valuable life lessons in strength, sharing, kindness, encouragement and positive attitude, all under the watchful eye of Matariki.
Using live music and singing, large scale puppetry, storytelling, te reo (Māori language), kapa haka (Māori performance) and audience interaction, this magical story will encourage students on their own journey of discovery, giving them giving them a wonderful celebration of Matariki and the cultural diversity of their school.
To coincide with Matariki festival celebrations, Matariki – The Little Eyes in the Sky will tour Canterbury primary schools from 30 May – 6 July 2016. Performances at 9.30am and 2pm Monday-Friday. Tickets are $4.50 (inclusive of GST) per child (no charge for teachers) and a minimum booking of 100 children is needed.
Rich cultural history told in a warm, witty and generous fashion
The Court Theatre’s touring schools production Matariki: The Little Eyes in the Sky is a charming bilingual production aimed at younger audiences that presents local myth and legend in a colourful, inviting manner. This production sits in the middle of Māori New Year celebrations – the time when the seven-strong star cluster Matariki, also known as the Pleiades, rises in mid-winter.
Actors Kim Garrett, Justin Rogers and Laura Hasson, who have devised the show with director Holly Chappell and co-creator Rutene Spooner, deliver consistently enthusiastic and often witty performances that sit in that sweet spot between sincerity and silliness.
Garrett plays the sensitive, earnest young Kahurangi. To her distress, her attempts to call Matariki (the constellation) into the sky and spark the New Year celebrations fail because one of the six daughters of Matariki (the mother star), Ururangi, is missing in action. Kahurangi, anxious but steadfast, heads out into the world to set things right.
This simple quest narrative offers great opportunities for story, movement, and creative use of props and space, as Kahurangi searches the seas, skies and forests for the rest of the stars in the hope they might be able to help her find the lost sister, reunite the family, and let her call them to their place in the sky. Rogers and Hasson do a terrific job of populating the story world with a broad cast of characters, from kuia and family members, to birds and trees, to the stars themselves.
The actors make excellent use of a traverse stage, using their close proximity to the audience to involve us in parts of the action. In between the presentation of the story itself, and occasional comic shifts between the actors’ characters and stage personae, there’s also some chasing, some high-fiving, some singing, some handstands, some discussion of snot, and all the sorts of ‘cherry on top’ things that get a direct, giggly reaction from the children.
Owen McCarthy’s delightful design concept for the show thoughtfully combines bright colours and with simple materials – poi as birds! Genius! – especially in the representations of the stars themselves. These puppets, which consist of large wooden faces and colourful draped skirts that represent each of the stars’ areas of interest and responsibility, are manipulated deftly by the actors, and the final image of the collected stellar family is quite beautiful.
I have an enormous soft spot for good quality family and children’s theatre, and this is such a sweet and heartfelt piece that I’m feeling all warm and weepy afterwards. It’s a local story that privileges Aotearoa New Zealand’s rich cultural history, and it’s told in a warm and generous fashion that, from my vantage point, makes the adults as happy as the kids.
A good portion of the rationale behind the show’s content is to do with exposing young audiences to Te Reo, waiata and kapa haka in a bilingual setting, which is a gently subversive endeavour that serves to centralise and naturalise Māori content with the context of contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand: fighting the good fight, one kids’ show at a time.
During the post-show question and answer session one of the young audience members says that they sometimes found it hard to listen the stars speak as they didn’t always understand what they were saying. This is fielded expertly by Garrett, who tells the children that the show wants to expose them to te reo Māori and to help them learn to listen and understand language in new ways. The kid smiles and nods, contented. Job done.