Muse by Craig Ranapia


Confound The Ignorant, And Amaze Indeed!

UPDATE:  Had confirmation from The Edge that the dodgy weather forcast has triggered a move to the rain day venue: Auckland Town Hall's Concert Chamber.  Since the venue seats a maximum of 450 please get there early to avoid disappointment.

As part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London is staging the 2012 Globe To Globe Festival -- 37 companies have been invited to stage all of the Bard's play in 37 languages from Urdu to Sign. 

If hip-hop Othello or Coriolanus in Japanese isn't your cup of matcha, Ngakau Toa are kicking off the globalized Bard-a-palooza (on April 23, Shakespeare's birthday) with Toroihi raua ko Kahira - a Te Reo production A.K.A. The Maori Troilus and Cressida.

A host of our most respected Maori actors make up the cast, which is led by Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider) as Pandarus.

Co-Directed by Rachel House and Jamus Webster, Produced by Grace Hoet. Director of Music Richard Nunns.

Featuring Waihoroi Shortland, Scotty Morrison, Kimo Houltham, Awhina Rose Henare-Ashby, Juanita Hepi, Waimihi Hotere, Matu Ngaropo, Maaka Pohatu and James Tito.

Want to be a cooler arts patron than Jenny Gibbs, the CIA and a crypt full of Medicis combined at a fraction of the cost and with none of the painful rubber chicken circuit chit-chat?

If you're in Auckland, it's as easy as showing up at Aotea Square Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, before 6.00pm this Thursday, Friday or Saturday (22-24 March) with a blanket, an (alcohol-free) picnic basket, all your friends and whanau and a generous koha.

It's not cheap taking a cast and crew of 21 to the other side of the planet to open a  prestigious theatre festival connected with the highest profile sports event on the planet. Since it's not anything really  important, like bailing out a profligate rugby union, there's still a substantial funding shortfall no amount of lurking on Grabaseat is going to fill over the next month.

(Which, for the record, doesn't diminish the support of Te Waka Toi-Creative New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri, Te Taura Whiri, Shakespeare Globe Theatre, NZ International Arts Festival, THE EDGE, Arts Alive Auckland Council, Wellington City Council and

If Auckland is too far away, a Kickstarter is due to be launched in the next couple of days, and I'll post a link as soon as it's up.  If you're in London, tickets are still available for both performances (April 23 & 24, 7.30).  If you're of sound ankles, standing room tickets in The Yard are £5.00. 

It's fair to ask why the hell you should be reaching into your pocket again, let alone for a pack of thespians.  This is how the production is described on The Globe's website.

The dramatic festivities of Globe to Globe open with the group who have travelled furthest. Rawiri Paratene (star of Whale Rider) has assembled New Zealand's best Maori actors for a production of Troilus and Cressida.

In an exquisite translation by Te Haumiata Mason, the production will incorporate many aspects of Maori culture, including the haka (warrior dance) and waiata (song), especially created by the best composers and choreographers of Aotearoa. Ti hei mauriora!

At the risk of sounding like a dip-shit hippy, to me Shakespeare is every bit as much a taonga as Te Reo and The Globe is holy ground.  The Globe to Globe Festival is a vivid reminder that this most English of dramatists - like London itself - is adaptable to not only a multitude of voices but radically different traditions; even sometimes as far beyond language as  Verdi at his most heartbreaking and the savage melancholy of Kurosawa's late masterpiece Ran

It's a tribute to actor/producer Rawiri Paratene - and the depth and strength of both Maori theatre and Shakespearean productions in this country - that he was invited to participate.  Even the most casual scan of the participants makes it abundantly clear this isn't amateur hour or "political correctness".  Which makes it all the more impressive that Ngakau Toa are taking on one of the least familiar, and more difficult plays in the cannon.  

As the Trojan War reaches its seventh year, and a bloody stalemate, a Trojan prince named Troilus (Kimo Houltham)  falls in love with Cressida (Awhina Henare-Ashby) the daughter of a traitorous Trojan priest who has defected to the Greek side.  Aided and abetted by Cressida's uncle, Pandarus (Paratene) almost everything else -- sex, politics, bad luck, worse judgement, mixed motives, conflicting agendas, more sex, their own foolishness and others' lethal pride -- conspires to pull them apart.  Everyone gets screwed, one way or another, and anyone familiar with Greek literature knows very few will get much older let alone wiser.

It's a heady brew of high tragedy and low bawdy - and not always an easily digestible one -- but you can't say there isn't something for everyone.

If that doesn't close the deal then let me make one last appeal to cultural nationalism.  If Ngakau Toa doesn't make it, we should all die of shame - and I'm not sharing my ghost chips with any of you bastards. 

Let's prove there's more to New Zealand culture on the world stage than Peter Jackson (I hates Hobbitses - blow me) and Boy getting a Kickstarted commando release in the United States

For three days this week, Auckland readers get not only a chance to engage in flaxroots arts patronage, but also a banging night out if the standing ovation at the Wellington premiere is anything to go by. 

Hamlet's career as an impresario was short, messy and not well-received but he still hands down a call to arms, and an earnest prayer that this week's performances are a success in every sense.  

Make mad the guilty, and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears!

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