A new Whangārei-based theatre group is debuting its first show this week, tackling the issue of bullying and suicide in a confronting manner which is set to shock audiences.
Friends Tane Davis and Gail Yearbury, who met through Whangārei Theatre Company, realised they both had a common passion for youth theatre and started Disruptive Performers a year ago with the aim of exploring new and exciting forms of theatre and performance.
"We found that the mainstream theatre companies and groups tended to shy away from the more challenging and darker productions which, ironically, youth tend to relate to the most," explained Davis.
This led to the concept of Disruptive Performers – with the vision of encouraging youth-led performances that include hard-hitting and confronting shows and topics.
Their first show is titled The Terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty, originally written in 1984 by David Calcutt, a British playwright. Davis discovered the play when he was 15 and cast as the main antagonist, Stubbs. The play has stuck with him since and it has been a long-held dream to produce it for a modern audience.
"This play addresses a very serious issue that still affects many people today - bullying. It shines a very real light on what effect bullying can have on its victims and even the perpetrators. Bullying is not okay and by performing this show we hope to encourage people to think and talk about a subject that needs to be addressed and stamped out," he said.
Yearbury said the play had been adapted to fit modern times, with language updated and influenced by the local cast of 18, aged between 16 and 50, with more than half between 16 and 24.
"They have been very engaged in making a 1980s play into a production that is relevant and meaningful today," she said.
The plot is based around new kid Terry Dumpton (Humpty Dumpty), who is victimised by Jake Stubbs and his gang and resorts to truancy to avoid being bullied. After being forced to climb a pylon by his tormentors, Dumpton suffers a fatal accident, leaving all those who witness it in a state of shock.
What follows brings out the true characters of everyone involved as they struggle to live with the consequences of their actions. Fear, pity, guilt and deceit divide the bullies, giving rise to discussions of moral issues, prejudices, the community, and media subjects.
When Detective Wynne and Detective Smith are assigned to the case, they are determined to get to the truth of what happened - no matter the cost.
Said Davis: "This show has a special place in both our hearts. Originally this play was performed in a condensed and sanitised version at the Whāngarei Theatre Company. The cast was so engaged with the play that when we discussed putting it on in its entirety there was huge enthusiasm to do this.
"The show is confronting – there's no way around that. The audience should be prepared for some strong language and themes. To convincingly portray these themes, the cast has had to dig deep into their resilience and it has been an awesome experience to see these young people able to convey something which most of them have suffered with."
The Terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty opens on Thursday, November 19, at 7.30pm and will be performed at 116 Bank St, Whangārei, followed by performances on November 20, 21, 27 and 28. Tickets are $20.
For further information and ticket sales, go to Facebook - Disruptive Performers.
• Auditions for Disruptive Performers' next production will be held in early December. Blood High is a dark comedy about a killer stalking the halls at a prestigious boarding school. Blood High was written by Davis and has been performed in Auckland.
Where to go for help: If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. If you or someone else is in danger call police immediately on 111.
To talk to someone else:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Need to talk?
Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: 09 376 4155.