Free Theatre Christchurch (est. 1979) is New Zealand's longest running producer of experimental theatre. The professional company serves as an interdisciplinary performance laboratory where artists work together to create innovative, high quality, performance work.
Bookings are open for Footprints/Tapuwae, the unique bicultural opera which features as part of Te Puna Toi 2015.
Juxtaposing motifs from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle with Waiata and Haka, this extraordinary production is all about regeneration. In the 19th century Wagner tried to support a German regeneration and revolution by going back to ancient myths in his musical dramas. His return to native Germanic roots can be compared with New Zealand's ongoing return to its own native Maori myths and cultural roots. In Footprints/Tapuwae these two 'returns' are juxtaposed in making an experimental, bicultural music theatre performance. Wagner's 'Ring of the Nibelung', which provides the material for the Pakeha side of the production, ends in the twilight of the old mythical world; in this production the Maori mythical elements lead to a rebirth of the Maori heritage and strength. Throughout the performance, cultural symbols play against each other but never merge - dragon and taniwha; gold and pounamu - as they represent different values and different worldviews. Like in Wagner's reinterpretation the mythical stories are asking questions of a modern global industrial culture of greed and rootless materialism without necessarily finding answers except in creating beauty in the search for meaning and regeneration.
Directed by Peter Falkenberg and Taiporoutu Huata, the production revives a work the pair first created in 2001. It features the Free Theatre Ensemble collaborating with performers from Te Pao a Tahu and Te AhikÅmau-a-Homoterangi, the NgÄi Tahu kapa haka groups who recently represented the Waitaha (greater Canterbury) region at Te Matatini. Designer Stuart Lloyd-Harris has again completely reconfigured the space for this production, further cementing The Gym and the Arts Centre as Christchurch's premiere destination for exciting new contemporary performance. This is an experience not to be missed.
Reviewers comments from the 2001 production: "immensely satisfying... the sheer nerve of the idea really impressed", Alan Scott, The Press "powerful and edgy, this creation gets you where you feel it", Barry Grant, Christchurch Star
About Te Puna Toi:
As an event designed for Free Theatre's New Works and Education Programme, Te Puna Toi aims is to foster contemporary interdisciplinary performance, combining performance with symposia, workshops and publications, working between the local and the international, and between the avant-garde and the traditional in theatre, performance and film.
Te Puna Toi has programmed a public workshop and a symposium during the performance season of Footprints/Tapuwae, which explore the discoveries made bringing together Maori and Western forms of performance. Te Puna Toi is supported by Christchurch City Council Events funding.
To book tickets to the opera Footprints/Tapuwae or a place in the workshop please see our website.
SYMPOSIUM: BETWEEN THEATRE
Saturday 6 June
The Gym, 2-5pm (free entry) * Image from Canterbury Tales symposium, FESTA 2013.
WORKSHOP: BICULTURAL PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP
Sunday 7 June
The Gym, 2-5pm (free entry) * Workshop bookings essential