10 March 2014

Pasefika: "You have to live here, you have to be one of us, to get it."

Award-winning playwright Stuart Hoar tells drama on the waterfront about how he came to write Pasefika.

“This play was inspired by my coming across an image of a print from the nineteenth century by an artist I had never heard of before. The image was  mysterious, intriguing and provocative; here in the 1860’s was a French artist imagining Paris being invaded by the Pacific.

And so I did more research and discovered that Charles Meryon lived for two years in the then French colony of Akaroa (c 1844 -45). His experience of life with the Maori people who also lived there left its mark on his work and his imagination in a profound and strongly dramatic way.

I also discovered that Meryon had been approached by the poet Charles Baudelaire to jointly produce a work of etchings and poetry – this fact for me was the spark I needed to write this play.

I wanted to contrast the romanticism and cynisim of Baudelaire with the eccentric but heart felt passion of Meryon, and compare their life in Paris in a theatrical rather than documentary way to an equally playful dramatised version of Meryon’s experiences in Akaroa, and evoke the synthesising and profound effect his Akaroa experiences had on him as a human and as an artist. Akaroa changed him as a man, it also changed his culture, and in the play this knowledge and vision of Meryon is something Baudelaire never understands.

You have to live here, you have to be one of us, to get it.

I wrote the play while living in France as the Katherine Mansfield Fellow for 2007 and found much useful material on Meryon in the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, (a public library specializing in the history of the city of Paris).”

Reviewers have been loving it …

"What fun to be immersed in this wonderfully playful imagining ... A cast of four play seven characters and from the moment they rise to the stage as if materialising through a Meryon etching, we are hooked." - John Smythe, Theatreview

"Brilliantly imagined, thought provoking, witty and multi- layered … Pasefika is a play that generates a lot of discussion " - Mary Bryan, Wanganui Chronicle

"The cast is excellent, with George Henare in top form as Baudelaire" -  Dominion Post

Pasefika production photos by Stephen A'Court.
"Sophisticated, provocative and endlessly playful" - Metro Magazine

Pasefika runs in Circa One until 29 March. To book for a performance during the NZ Festival (until 16 March), visit Ticketek. To book for a performance during the post-Festival Circa season, visit the Circa website or call the box office on 801-7992.

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