Hav­ing a laugh at stereo­types

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Michelle Ang and Jo Hol­sted are undertaking an ex­per­i­ment.

They are ask­ing au­di­ences to sus­pend their prej­u­dices as they take a fresh look at what it means to be a Kiwi in their first the­atre show Chop/Stick.

Born out of Ms Ang’s frus­tra­tion that she would never have an op­por­tu­nity to play out­side of her eth­nic­ity, the comedic one-woman show sees the ac­tress take on 13 dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters from a cross­sec­tion of New Zealand so­ci­ety.

‘‘It’s a chal­lenge – the au­di­ence has to meet us half­way,’’ she says.

‘‘We’re re­ally try­ing to give these per­spec­tives from a re­ally cheeky, ir­rev­er­ent way and dis­cover if I, as a woman of Asian de­scent, can play a Cau­casian or a Samoan guy.’’

Chop/Stick is play­ing at The Base­ment The­atre next week.

The pair are new to the Auck­land the­atre cir­cuit and have writ­ten, pro­duced and pro­moted the play them­selves.

Ms Ang, well known for her roles in Out­ra­geous For­tune and My Wed­ding and Other Se­crets, is now star­ring in a new Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion se­ries but says she couldn’t re­sist the chance to re­turn to work on the project.

In­spi­ra­tion for the cast of colourful char­ac­ters has come from ‘‘all over the place’’, she says.

‘‘I feel like some of my char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions from an act­ing per­spec­tive, par­tic­u­larly for Grandma, have come from my aunty who I’m stay­ing with at the mo­ment.

‘‘She’s got some

of these re­ally clas­sic, fierce looks that I feel might have crept their way into that char­ac­ter,’’ Ms Ang says.

Ms Hol­sted says ev­ery Kiwi should be able to see a piece of them­selves some­where in the show.

‘‘There’s def­i­nitely some­thing real in all of the char­ac­ters,’’ the Grey Lynn res­i­dent says. ‘‘Some of them were more of a con­duit for what we wanted to say, but there’s no­body that doesn’t have an el­e­ment we haven’t seen in some­one, even if it’s a broad stroke.’’

The play is more of a ‘‘gen­tle prod’’ to the con­scious­ness than a se­ri­ous take on stereo­typ­ing.

‘‘We want to bring up po­ten­tially offensive is­sues so they be­come a topic of con­ver­sa­tion but we’re point­ing the fin­ger at ev­ery­one.

‘‘There’s not one per­son that we’re say­ing is wrong or right, or that there even is a wrong or a right.

‘‘I would love peo­ple to come away from the play with some new thoughts that they didn’t have be­fore but also for them to have had fun and en­joyed it,’’ Ms Hol­sted says.

Re­sponse to the play has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive so far, Ms Ang says.

‘‘I think ev­ery­one will find the hu­mour in it and that’s the thing, dif­fer­ent groups will find dif­fer­ent things funny – which is funny in it­self.’’

Chop/Stick runs from Novem­ber 20 to 24 at The Base­ment The­atre, Lower Greys Ave.

Per­for­mances are from 8.30pm with a mati­nee on Novem­ber 24 at 2.30pm.

For tick­ets call 361 1000 or go to iticket.co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Fresh per­spec­tive: Michelle Ang and Jo Hol­sted put a host of Kiwi stereo­types in the frame for their play Chop/Stick at The Base­ment The­atre.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edition for an in­sight into the chang­ing face of Auck­land.

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