It took a meeting with Ole Maiava to crystallise my “[still processing my] almost visceral cultural reaction” to last year’s Hypothesis One. It took the phrase “what came before” in terms of Pasifika theatre to make me realise why the piece stood out so much.
Sure, it was a Pasifika story – and not a new one, truth be told – and yes, it spoke to me in a cultural/ethnic and personal way. It had wonderful acting. Excellent direction. Technical stuff that was invisible which meant the whole was seamless.
What I had witnessed was professional theatre.
All too often, the Pasifika theatre I’ve watched has been self-conscious and either presented as just entertainment or entertainment-with-a-message. For me and my very limited theatre-going/research budget, there is:
- entertainment – the easy laughs, the bear-with-us-we’re-only-humble-performers, and the rush to production;
- and then there is engagement: that there is a point to the whole of the performance, that care is taken to respect both the material and audience, and that craft and skill will elevate the theatre experience to something nearing an out-of-body experience.
I knew there was a good reason why I hazarded “a pointer to the future of Pasifika theatre” in my original post: Hypothesis One engaged me on more levels than I expected. I don’t think I’ve walked away from Pasifika theatre like this since… my first ever holy-shit-wow introduction to it two decades ago as an audience member.
And lookee here: they’re back with Le Tonu.
Disclaimer: this post is all my doing, with no nudges, winks, or complimentary tickets from the P Lab.