Dionne Christian is the NZ Herald’s arts and books editor

Shakespeare's Henry V tempts star back to theatre

Rawiri Paratene will play the Duke of Exeter in the Pop-up Globe's Henry V next year.
Rawiri Paratene will play the Duke of Exeter in the Pop-up Globe's Henry V next year.

Actor Rawiri Paratene can't seem to get enough of Shakespeare.

The stage and screen star returned home this year after spending the better part of two years with the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre world tour of Hamlet. Paratene was the only non-British-based actor in a cast of 16 which travelled 310,647km visiting 197 countries, including NZ, to perform the tragedy.

Now he's been cast as the Duke of Exeter in Pop-up Globe's Henry V.

"Working in that space is the most fantastic feeling for me," says Paratene, of the 360-degree theatre.

"It's a very intimate and very personal space. It's like being an orator on a marae where you have to reach everyone collectively as well as every individual.

"I feel really comfortable and at home in that environment."

The Whale Rider star, whose career began in the 1970s as a Playschool presenter, has written and performed in at least two dozen TV dramas, comedies and telefeatures. In 2012, he led an 18-strong cast in a te reo version of Shakespeare's's Troilus and Cressida.

The Henry V cast also features Shortland Street heartthrob TeKohe Tuhaka, Zoolander 2 and Sparticus actor Antonio Te Maioha, and Edward Newborn from The Waterhorse. Season One favourites to return include Jonny Tynan Moss, who played Romeo, and Stanley Jackson and Stephen Butterworth, who starred in Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet.

About 1200 actors from as far away as Russia and South America applied to join the cast for Pop-up Globe's Season Two productions As You Like It, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello. "We were astonished and humbled by the level of interest from the international acting community in our project," says artistic director and founder Dr Miles Gregory. "It's ... history in the making and actors simply wanted to be part of something very special."

Applications were eventually whittled down to 30, including Kiwi, Aussie, Irish, Norwegian, American and British actors.

They will be directed by Gregory and Ben Naylor, local performer Miriama McDowell and British comedy specialist Tom Mallaburn.

Already 20,000 tickets have been sold to the 2017 season, which will see Pop-up Globe in a garden setting at Ellerslie Racecourse. Promoters say tickets are selling far faster than last year and they're on track to exceed those 100,000 sales.

Built to the same dimensions as the first Pop-up Globe by CamelSpace and with an interior based on ground-breaking research, this version features a three-storey Jacobean-inspired stage front.

The huge stage front will be built and painted entirely by hand, feature Jacobean imagery and architectural detailing, have two balconies and an elaborately painted ceiling.

"We've challenged ourselves to make the new Pop-up Globe even better than the first," said Gregory.

The 2017 season will run from February 23 to May 14. Tickets are on sale via Eventfinda and at popupglobe.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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