Play of­fers a trip down mem­ory lane

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By BEN ROGERS

Pon­sonby in the 1980s was very dif­fer­ent to the one we know to­day.

The Pon­sonby Rd strip, now dot­ted with high-end fash­ion stores and con­tem­po­rary dining spots is a far cry from places like the Glue­pot and the par­ties that used to go on, ac­cord­ing to play­wright and per­former Tessa Mitchell.

Her lat­est work is called I Wanna Be Na Nah Na Nah Nah. It’s part of Auck­land’s Fringe Fes­ti­val and is a nod to how Pon­sonby used to be.

‘‘It’s set in the early 80s and that’s when my mum was work­ing in the men­tal health drop-in cen­tre on Pon­sonby Rd. It was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent place back then.

‘‘It’s about a girl who is based on me, who is cat­a­pult­ing her­self into cri­sis point.’’

The au­di­ence will be given wire­less head­phones and lead through backyards, al­ley­ways and along Pon­sonby Rd.

Ac­tors move be­tween past and present as guides, per­form­ers, and con­duc­tors of un­ex­pected meet­ings along the way – all set to an 80s sound­track.

‘‘When we did a trial ev­ery­one loved it, it’s al­most a ra­dio play, but what you’ll see is vis­ual in­stal­la­tions along the way.’’

Mitchell has col­lab­o­rated with theatre maker Stephen Bain and well known New Zealand per­son­al­ity Dave Fane.

Fane grew up in Pon­sonby and has of­fered some of his mem­o­ries for the per­for­mance. His is the voice the au­di­ence hears over their wire­less head­sets.

Au­di­ence mem­bers will gather at the Base­ment Theatre be­fore they are taken to Pon­sonby on a free bus.

They will then be split in two with the first half hear­ing Mitchell’s story start­ing at Golden Dawn while the oth­ers will be taken on Fane’s jour­ney start­ing from Three Lamps. Half­way through the groups will cross over.

Mitchell hopes to con­vey the ex­pe­ri­ences she had as a young woman living in Pon­sonby, par­ty­ing with mu­si­cians and rub­bing shoul­ders with young King Co­bra mem­bers.

De­spite Pon­sonby’s dras­tic makeover in re­cent years Mitchell is still is proud to call the area her home.

‘‘I do miss the Poly­ne­sian in­flu­ence around Pon­sonby and the Glue­pot be­cause that was a great place that we all loved but th­ese things al­ways change.

‘‘I live here still and it has still re­tained it’s colour and is a place peo­ple want to come to.’’

Nos­tal­gic jour­ney: Long-time res­i­dent Tessa Mitchell will share her mem­o­ries of Pon­sonby’s past.

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