The Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival is a platform for stories of our community to be told, to support our local artists and offer them a platform to not just entertain, but a space to discuss and express the important issues of our current time.
This year there are three pieces of work that explore the stories and identities of both young people and some of our elders.
As the Day Draws In is a stunning contemporary piece of verbatim theatre.
Hawke's Bay is home to co –creators and theatre makers Puti Lancaster and Teresa Woodham, who wanted to tell stories that are not often heard beyond the private domain of family life.
That is why they chose to sit with six elderly people aged between 72 and 92 and record their stories, from full and long-lived lives. From the recorded stories they distilled the words into a script that reflects the real stories from this place, the coast and plains of Heretaunga.
They are stories of families and home and the joys and shadows that lie within, a piece that reflects the social and cultural diversity of the region.
St Andrew's Hall is the perfect space for this intimate work with the stories held by original music created by John Gibson who performs alongside musician Matiu Whiting and actors Catherine Wilkin, Kristyl Neho and Lloyd Scott.
Hawke's Bay Youth Theatre who are based at Keirunga Theatre have been rehearsing for their upcoming performance during the Festival.
They have grappled with a new, energetic, and visceral production of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy's Everyman.
Originally the cornerstone of 15th century English morality plays, Duffy's re-imagining of the script brings a startling relevance to modern life.
Rhyme, rhythm and colourful cadences create an exciting and enticing web around 21st century culture.
Amidst climate strikes, social unrest and pandemic, young voices are itching to be heard, and the incredible actors of Hawke's Bay's own youth company tenaciously grasp this story with maturity and immense energy under the masterful direction of Peter Cottrell and Champa Maciel.
Some of the cast spoke about what being part of the Youth Theatre means to them:
"It has been a great experience. I have learned so much and made some great friends.
"Everyman is important to me because it has so much meaning behind it. The group has done so much to bring this meaningful script to life on stage. I have gained so much knowledge about theatre, as well as many new friends. I'm looking forward to being able to show our hard work to the people of Hawke's Bay." Renee.
"Everyman is extremely important to me because it acts as a mouthpiece for the current need for change. It is a rather confronting show, which I think is really special, it doesn't hesitate to make people step outside of their comfort zones. Everyman can teach audiences that every action has consequences. I'm really looking forward to showcasing Everyman to Hawke's Bay and help inspire people to make a change!" Kaitlyn.
Another avenue through the festival for young people is the Furnware Ambassador programme. Young people from within the community who wish to further their knowledge of the arts industry can apply to be part of this year long programme which is supported by Furnware.
The Furnware Ambassador programme is about developing the next generation of actors, playwrights, technicians, producers or directors to engage with professional practitioners who in turn encourage them to become theatre-makers and creative ambassadors within their schools and local communities.
This year the ambassadors programme has partnered with Toitoi and their creative leaders initiative – designed to build relationships throughout the region and provide opportunities for our rangatahi to gain a deeper understanding of the arts industry.
Throughout term 3 ambassadors and creative leaders have had the opportunity to work alongside some of Hawke's Bays top creatives in workshops covering many aspects of the performing arts. During the festival – our Ambassadors and Creative Leaders get to experience the festival first-hand – watching shows, talking with artists and culminating in a performance called Threads of Touch.
The ambassadors' performance will be a bold, spontaneous gathering of threads of learning and personal stories across many performance disciplines. One of the ambassadors reflected on his experience:
"As a human, I long for connection- to be a part of something- both as an audience member and a performer. I long to feel bridged to what is happening onstage- especially after months of neglected connections due to the nationwide lockdown. It is a privilege to be able to perform on stage and with multiple disciplines." Zac Fitzgibbon.
As the Day Draws In is performed at St Andrew's Hall, Hastings on October 14, 15, 16.
Everyman is performed at Keirunga Theatre at 6pm on October 13, 14, 16 and 17, and at 7.30pm on October 15.
Threads of Touch Ambassador performance is at Toitoi 18 October at 11am.
Tickets to all the events from hbaf.co.nz or iSites Napier, Hastings and Havelock North as well as Ticketek outlets at Toitoi and Napier Municipal Theatre.