Take a look at Te Kohe Tuhaka's CV and you'll see there isn't much the actor and TV host hasn't done.

He has been in Shortland Street, starred in films like The Dead Lands and Mahana, toured the world promoting the 2011 Rugby World Cup, been the sole performer in a dramatic one-person play and hosted Marae Kai Masters.

But there's one achievement he's yet to add to this list: performing in a Shakespeare play.

That changes this week when the Pop-up Globe 2017 opens at Ellerslie Racecourse and, for someone who hasn't appeared in one of the bard's plays, it's a huge deal for Tuhaka.


He'll play one of the English playwright's biggest and most compelling roles, Othello.

The Venetian general, frequently described as the Moor of Venice, battles his own jealously, suspicion and envy and the prejudices of others when his wife, Desdemona, is accused of having an affair.

Tuhaka auditioned at the urging of his friend actor/director Miriama McDowell, who acted in its 2016 Romeo and Juliet and, this year directs Much Ado About Nothing.

"She kept talking about what a good time she'd had and she said, 'I need you to do this for me, my friend', so I did," he said.

With help from McDowell and fellow actor Stanley Jackson to prepare, he went early Sunday morning to his gym to film his audition.

Tuhaka figured it would be quiet but had no such luck because the gym was hosting a major basketball competition final.

He filmed his audition as planned, struggling not to be distracted by the sounds of games and cheering crowds, but concluded it was one of the worst he'd ever done.

It might have added to his nerves had he known he was up against more than 1200 local and international actors with audition tapes coming from the likes of Russia, Norway, Ireland and the US.


As well as being cast as Othello, he has a smaller role in Much Ado About Nothing as villain Don John. He had no idea how big or demanding the role of Othello would be.

"But I actually much prefer to have 'no idea' because then I find myself overthinking; if I've allow myself to absorb and go with the flow of the rehearsal period, then I feel much better."

He's worked closely with McDowell and Othello's British director Ben Naylor to perfect his performance and get used to the ebb and flow of Shakespearean language and rhythm.

Tuhaka is one of the newcomers to PuG, along with Whale Rider star Rawiri Paratene and Zoolander 2 and Spartacus actor Antonio Te Maioha.

Some season one actors return, including Edward Newborn, Jonny Tynan Moss, Stanley Jackson and Stephen Butterworth.

Stanley Jackson returns for Pop-up Globe's season 2.
Stanley Jackson returns for Pop-up Globe's season 2.

Jackson, originally from the US, was a crowd favourite last year, starring in Twelfth Night as Malvolio and Romeo and Juliet as Mercutio.

Fresh out of drama school, he got his first professional roles after a tutor at the Royal School of Speech and Drama in London suggested he audition.

Jackson admitted he wasn't overly clear on where Auckland was.

"I'm North American, we don't do geography," he said, happily sending himself up.

It turned into the experience of a lifetime and Jackson has since had smaller theatre and TV roles here as well as work as an accent and voice coach.

In PuG's season two, he'll play Celia in As You Like It and the Dauphin in Henry V.

Pop-up Globe is the world's first full scale and working replica of Shakespeare's second Globe Theatre in London that can be moved around the world.

Last year, more than 100,000 tickets were sold and the season was twice extended. This year, PuG is at the Ellerslie Raceway from February 19 to May 14. Plays are As You Like It, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V.

Much ado about $1 show tickets

Those keen to see a show at Pop-up Globe but fearful they can't afford it can now buy tickets for $1.

Pop-up Globe artistic director Dr Miles Gregory said right from the start of the project, the aim has been to get as many people as possible to see Shakespeare's plays.

"We don't want anyone to be unable to attend because they can't afford it so now you could take a family of five to the theatre for $5."

Some 2000 $1 tickets are now available, through a special eventfinda.co.nz online promotion, to those buying $15 tickets to stand in the groundlings area. They're for first week performances of the four plays on the 2017 programme: As You Like It, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V.

Buyers will stand and watch from the groundlings' area. In Shakespeare's day, one penny tickets were available to those who wanted to stand just below the stage and watch.

"We want to share with as many people as possible what we've created," said Gregory. "Auckland, as our home city, has been incredibly supportive of us and we don't want anyone to miss out."