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The Beautiful Ones: A Physical Narrative

By Leah Maclean

“It is beautiful, youthful and an all-encompassing experience,” explains Hone Kouka one of the creative minds behind the multi-discipline performance The Beautiful Ones. Produced by Wellington based Tawata Productions - an indigenous performance and film company who specialise in the development and production of new work - The Beautiful Ones blurs the lines between text, movement, visuals and music.

A hyperreal digital love story where young Ihia is left pining and wondering whether the beautiful Hana, after being banished for theft, will keep her promise and return.  The performance is a sensory overload, but in the most delicious way. From 19-26 November Auckland audiences will be immersed in an underground night-club scene with live vocals by Ria Hall, AV by Johnson Witehira, powerful choreography by Teokotai Paitai and stand out dance/theatre performances by Tia Maipi, Scotty Cotter, Sharn Te Pou, Bianca Hyslop, Te Hau Winitana, Mapihi Kelland, Braedyn Togi, Raai Badeeu and Manarangi Mua.

The Beautiful Ones first premiered in 2015 after a development season in 2014. Hone, an acclaimed Māori screen and stage writer, describes the show’s creation as a liberating experience albeit a challenging one. The test came in the form of engaging multiple artistic mediums and finding the balance of the cast. From an actor heavy work in 2014 to 2016 where the dance has come to the forefront with a strong mix of singers and a “light sprinkling of actors,” Hone feels he has the show in that ideal equilibrium. He also reflects on the change in story following the 2015 premiere. “I totally rewrote what text and story was there – it was the weakest element by far, which I thought was amusing as I am a writer,” he explains. “There is more urgency in the story and more immediacy.”

Heading into its third season and having that opportunity to revisit and redevelop, Hone feels it is almost time for the show to go on tour. He alludes to discussions with festivals and venues in both Melbourne and Sydney. “I thought Australia would ‘get it’, as much of the influence came from my time in those cities going to all the big dance parties.” Along with touring Hone hopes to see The Beautiful Ones become a source of inspiration to other Māori and Pacific artists to create similar works. “To see senior Māori and Pacific artists at the top of their game and to see a work of scale by Māori and Pacific practitioners in Tamaki I think is a great drawcard,” he says.

Audiences can expect an explosive performance on stage and a demolishing of the fourth wall. The Beautiful Ones gives audience members the opportunity to boogie down with the dancers and be at liberty to engage in social media throughout. The ‘please turn off your cellphones’ rule can be thrown out the window because the production allows all social media to remain open – performers and audience can post/live stream their experience at any time.

The Beautiful Ones plays at Lower NZI, Aotea Centre, Auckland from Saturday 19-Saturday 26 November.
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The Beautiful Ones: A Physical Narrative

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