Play offers a trip down memory lane
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.