14 June 2010

A Window into He Reo Aroha

Although extremely busy touring He Reo Aroha around the country and all over the world, playwright Miria George takes some time to discuss this moving musical with drama on the waterfront. He Reo Aroha returns to Wellington audiences with performances at Circa Two 16-26 June.

DOTW: What is the story of He Reo Aroha?

MG: He Reo Aroha is a story of two young lovers who get back together! A classic tale of boy meets girl, they fall in love, break up and then overcome an ocean and get back together!

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.

DOTW: I understand you wrote the play with Jamie McCaskill, what can you tell us about the process of creating this piece? Where did the idea come from?

MG: He Reo Aroha has been created by five Maori artists, Jamie and I wrote the script together, creating the characters and worlds with Hone Kouka and Kali Kopae. We wanted to tell a story of love, of Maori in love, love of family, love of tupuna, love of friends and the love shared by a boy and girl! Jamie, Kali and Hone Hurihanganui composed all of the waiata and songs that feature in He Reo Aroha.

In many ways, He Reo Aroha is a window into te ao Maori (the Maori world) that is not often seen on main-stages in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a celebration of love shared by passionate people!

DOTW: He Reo Aroha is a musical, what can you tell us about the music in this show?

MG: He Reo Aroha features original music throughout the show, from contemporary love songs in the English language to Maori language duets that will have you humming away to yourself as you drive home from the theatre! The music is beautiful, emotional, hilarious and written by Kali, Jamie and Hone – these are very talented people!

DOTW: This show has toured rather extensively, both in New Zealand and overseas; how have international audiences reacted to the story in comparison with New Zealand audiences?

MG: International audiences have very warmly received us, from Honolulu to Toronto, our audiences have been very open to the bi-lingual nature of the show – as often the cities we are touring to are multi-lingual. Audiences at home are fabulous – they understand the idiosyncrasies of the characters and sing along with the Maori language songs – although the Hawai’ians could too!

DOTW: As a playwright, what is your inspiration? Are there any other writers/playwrights that inspire you?

MG: I’m always inspired by the people around me – my family and friends can recognize elements of themselves in all of my characters from various plays. I’m inspired by the world around me, by current events – my work needs to be connected with the reality of our modern world to ensure that what I have to say as a playwright is always relevant to who we are as people!

Miria George

DOTW: What are you working on next?

MG: My next play, Sunset Road, is on the brink of a rehearsed reading! It is a script that has been very fortunate to be developed at the Weesageechak Begins To Dance Development Festival in Toronto, Canada – a playwrights festival that workshops brand new work! Native Earth Performing Arts are a First Nation professional theater company that have a 23-year history developing scripts – they have been an absolute blessing to work with!

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