Strip’s ir­reg­u­lar ‘fam­ily’ on tour

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

K ROAD has long been a bea­con for mis­fits, al­ter­na­tive cul­ture and bo­hemian spir­its, Will Bar­ling says.

And it’s where the Mt Al­bert dancer first felt at home.

The char­ac­ters and sto­ries of the no­to­ri­ous cen­tral Auck­land land­mark are be­ing brought to the stage as the Okareka Dance Com­pany kicks off its tour of its lat­est of­fer­ing K’ Rd Strip on June 11.

Mr Bar­ling would sneak out to the bright lights of the iconic strip as a 15-year-old.

‘‘At school you’d be bul­lied for be­ing gay or be­ing a bit dif­fer­ent but then you’d come up here and ev­ery­one’s a fam­ily. You felt safe and wel­comed for be­ing kind of odd.’’

The show is a liv­ing, breath­ing in­car­na­tion of the peo­ple who have lived and worked on K Rd, he says.

Six per­form­ers com­bine con­tem­po­rary dance, theatre and live vo­cals fea­tur­ing an all-New Zealand mu­sic score from the likes of Gin Wig­more and Th’ Dudes.

The show tran­scends gen- res in the same way K Rd tran­scends com­mu­ni­ties, Mr Bar­ling says.

‘‘Ex­pect to have your mind opened.’’

Each per­former has their own take on what the street and the show’s mes­sage rep­re­sent but for the 27-yearold it is one of ac­cep­tance.

‘‘For your­self and other peo­ple. It’s not just for gay peo­ple, it’s for ev­ery­one who doesn’t fit in.

‘‘That’s what it’s been like for the cast.

‘‘All of our sto­ries have that same kind of thread of ac­cep­tance and feel­ing of be­ing nur­tured.’’

But it is not all bright lights and good times.

The show also traces the street’s dark and vul­ner­a­ble side.

There is only one K Rd but every town and every city around the world has its own in­car­na­tion, he says.

Mr Bar­ling hopes cer­tain themes will res­onate with au­di­ences else­where as the show tours New Zealand.

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