19 September 2011

He Reo Aroha: A universal theme to which everyone can relate

Performer Kali Kopae talks to drama on the waterfront about the return season of Tawata Productions' He Reo Aroha: its creation, its worldwide reception and the familiarity it inspires in all who see it.

DOTW: What is the basic story of He Reo Aroha? What role(s) do you play?

KK: He Reo Aroha is a simple love story …Girl meets Boy…they separate…and then lalala…they get back together. Set in NY and rural NZ, it’s a love story that resonates with all people.

I play Kaia a successful singer and also the loveable fisherman Rangi.

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: Were you involved in the original development of the play? How did it come to be?

KK: It started as an idea over a few drinks at the Southern Cross. We chatted about what we wanted out of the show and basically just talked out ideas. It was a collaboration between writers Miria George and Jamie McCaskill; myself and Hone Kouka were really just a soundboard for the ideas coming out…we would say yay or neigh… Miria and Jamie would go away and do the real work of writing the piece and we’d wait in anticipation for a squiz at the next draft.

My original songs were put in, also waiata from Hone Hurihanganui. With each new season we would find out different things…you know…what worked and what didn’t…we talked amongst our selves and with the audience and changes were made accordingly, songs were cut, shuffled or added…scenes thrown out…characters flicked or freshened up….and now…phew… I think we have a pretty solid little piece of theatre.

DOTW: How many times have you performed this play? How does it feel to return to it again? What does this play mean to you?

KK: Jeepers…I have no idea, it’s been around for a few years now so I’d say I’ve preformed it A LOT!

This play is so special to me!!

1 - I get to work with my fiancé
2 - I get to play my own music
3 - I get to play a Man in a dress
4 - I get to travel the world and work with an amazing bunch of people, all thanks to Tawata!!

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: I understand that you recently performed He Reo Aroha in the Christchurch Arts Festival with a different co-star – how did it feel to perform with someone else?

KK: You know to be honest it was hard but that’s only because I had to do some work, it wasn’t like being with Jamie where we know each others ways on stage…we can generally read each other and what one will do next but Christchurch wasn’t like that.

Christchurch was a different show…different in some beautiful ways…Musically we changed to suit Tola’s needs and mine, ya know, finding that sweet spot during Hapai …so I could meld with him…It was actually fun to have someone new to bounce things off, he freshened it up and made me work with him, in a good way.

There was a lot of cool stuff that came out of that season…some stuff I think Jamie and I can talk about in the future too.

Kali Kopae and Jamie McCaskill in He Reo Aroha.
DOTW: You’ve performed this play all over the world – how do international audiences react to it, compared to New Zealand audiences?

KK: I’ve found that no matter where we are in the world the reception is always the same: warm and inviting. He Reo Aroha has such a universal theme that everyone can relate to. No matter what ethnicity… Everyone has loved at some point whether it be your fiancé, Grandma…Home or just being on the Ocean. He Reo Aroha seems to have everyone’s favorite familiar family character, this familiarity is what I think our audiences love.

He Reo Aroha opens in Circa Two on Wednesday, 21 September and runs until Friday, 30 September. to book, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz

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