Make A Long Story Short

5pm 11, 12 & 13 Oct, Arts Inc Heretaunga, Russell St, Hastings
By Jess Soutar Barron

Youth post stories to social media: like, comment, share. Morselised selves, selfies, sound bites and best bits, a binary of FML and LOL. That’s it, right? That’s the yoof voice.

But I just found another: screaming, singing, laughing, bellowing, whispering, whimpering in the alcoves of Arts Inc Heretaunga: these youth are Kaimanawa Performing Arts with a series of devised works they’ve written and are showing as part of the fringe festival.

There is multi-dimensionality here, a maturity in tone that finds ways to lace together the hard times in young lives with some very funny lines, and some blissful comic timing.

These are prepared stories but are not scripted, they are somewhere between TED talk and practiced soliloquy. Beautiful use of simple plinth as prop and a suite of school chairs lends playful structure and tools to the actors’ poignant and immersive pieces.

Each performer has their own specific skillset and offering, these range from the fun physicality demonstrated by Jack in his Questions piece to the harmonies and clever lyricism of Frieda and Patrice in their Trust song to the personal honesty of April’s Sister work and Amy’s piece on Toxic Relationships. Subject matter covers an expected spectrum of teen themes but there is depth in the handling of these.

All the collaborators show real control over their own bodies as well as the gaps between each individual and those working in concert around them. In a large and hard-edged space, the troupe delivers a disciplined structure to the pieces and their segues without letting the place overwhelm them. Excellent stage craft at work here, even more impressive as they use the full gallery and its wonderful stairs. It’s perfectly backdropped by Wellesley Binding’s charcoal on white full-wall paintings.

As these rising adults spin rich yarns there’s a rawness that’s somehow been tamed and trained to find a balance between home truths and satisfying narrative. I look forward to seeing what’s next for these young performers. Fringe Gold.


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