Audience forms crowd in new play


Young people in Wanaka will let their voices be heard during the Festival of Colour.

They are taking part in Permission to Speak, a site-specific theatre piece that includes verbatim interviews with young people from across New Zealand.

Cast member Siena Shotwell said the play was set at the after-party of a sports prizegiving, having groups of the cast performing in a realistic setting.

The audience would move among the cast, listening and following the action.

“So they will be standing and moving around and participating in the party scene.”

The play presented ideas and themes that were “confronting, but in a good way”.

The text provided discussion about consent, online trolls, toxic masculinity and body image issues including the “fitspiration” movement which combined “fitness” and “inspiration”.

Siena would be performing a monologue which was “taken straight from what people have said”.

“Which makes it really, really confronting, because this isn’t made up. This is so truthful. This comes from a really personal story.”

Directors Fiona Armstrong and Jonathan Jamesof GOYA theatre interviewed teenagers across the country, asking questions about topics including gender, equality, feminism, toxic masculinity and body image.

These interviews formed part of the script, with further input added from discussions with the local cast.

“The cast’s own dialogues and opinions have also fed into what we are devising,” Mr James said.

Rehearsals were more than simply learning lines, instead there were opportunities for the young people to share their thoughts and experiences.

“We encourage them through discussion to examine their world and figure out the discrepancies with how it currently works.”

The final show will be a combination of insights from teenagers across the country and the cast, plus movement and song, Mr James said.

Permission To Speak will be performed in situ at Wanaka Yacht Club on April 2-7 at 6.30pm and additional 8.30pm performances on April 6 and 7.

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