Review by Jeremy Tindall
Last week my siblings and I attended the performance of Manawa Ora at The Herald Theatre in Auckland. Performed by young South Aucklanders, students from Nga Rangatahi Toa, we were captivated by their stories of hope for a generation.
These were stories of hope shared through theatre, music and spoken word created by tomorrow’s talent in collaboration with their mentors – famous Kiwi artists including Anika Moa, Teulia Blakely, Tourettes, Coco Solid, Vinni Bennett and others.
The rangatahi worked one-on-one with their mentors for 10-days of intensive workshops. At the end, a piece of music, theatre, spoken word or visual art was performed by each of the Rangatahi, the content of which is both confronting and uplifting.
The performances were multiple and divergent- from heart-rending recordings of original songs, which bled through the loudspeakers to breathtaking dance routines. The former explicitly documented implicit trouble and trauma, leaving the audience startled but enlightened and entertained at the majesty of the songwriting and performance. Anika Moa’s accompaniment certainly enhanced the recording beautifully.
The dance routine detailed an energetic leaping, lunging and luging through a fast-paced hip-hop track.
There were spoken word-style poems both paeans to redemption and pleas of the soul. No affections were withdrawn. And no affectations were indulged in. This was as real as real could be.
We were beholden to video footage of South Auckland accompanied by live and in-person rap performances of stunning depth of perception, of hope and healing. Societal comment on disenfranchisement in the raw for the audience.
The performers also underwent questions from curious attendees. Overall a really interesting, challenging and beautiful night in more ways than one.
About Nga Rangatahi Toa:
Nga Rangatahi Toa is a charity that works with young people who are either in alternative education or are Y-NEET (Youth not in Education, Employment or Training).
Nga Rangatahi Toa believes that every young person deserves the opportunity to fulfill their potential, no matter what their life situation and that every human is creative, and that this creativity is key to building strong humans, strong whanau and strong communities. Through creative arts and long-term positive involvement in the lives of Auckland rangatahi, Nga Rangatahi Toa helps to transition them into tertiary education, employment or back into mainstream schooling.