Love sto­ries against epic back­drop

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Pase­fika is ‘‘pretty much big­ger than Ben Hur’’, says Welling­ton ac­tress Emma Ki­nane. The of­fer­ing from Circa is part of the New Zealand Fes­ti­val of the Arts.

It had a big set, big tech­ni­cal vi­su­als and a ‘‘ huge’’ sound­scape, Ki­nane said.

‘‘This is a fes­ti­val show and we’ve all thrown ev­ery­thing at it,’’ she said.

Prepa­ra­tions have been chal­leng­ing be­cause of the tech­ni­cal el­e­ments that the ac­tors can only imag­ine un­til dress re­hearsals be­gin.

Pase­fika con­cerns the re­la­tion­ships of 19th century French artist Charles Meryon, who spent time in Akaroa be­fore re­turn­ing to Paris to pro­duce the etch­ings he is now known for.

Ge­orge Henare ap­pears with Ki­nane, and he said many of Meryon’s etch­ings in­cor­po­rated im­ages from his time in the Pa­cific, with whales and waka hid­den in the clouds.

‘‘He was so bowled over with the open­ness and the light as op­posed to Paris with its small streets,’’ he said.

Each of the cast’s four ac­tors play mul­ti­ple roles as the plot switches back and forth be­tween 1840s Akaroa and 1860 Paris, mak­ing for some stress­ful be­tween-scenes changes into the elab­o­rate cos­tumes.

One of Henare’s roles is an op­por­tunis­tic Maori chief.

‘‘All the vis­i­tors think he’s a big chief. All the lo­cals think he’s that prick who’s go­ing around sell­ing shrunken heads and what­ever to mu­se­ums,’’ Henare said.

That char­ac­ter is coun­ter­pointed by the poet Baude­laire, Meryon’s Parisian friend who hopes to make a for­tune from the sale of prints of the etch­ings.

He’s a bit of a sponger, us­ing sex and what­ever else he can to make a liv­ing, Henare said.

‘‘ They are both cap­i­tal­is­tic en­trepreneurs.’’

Stu­art Hoar’s script took the Adam Award in 2010, but Ki­nane said this was its first out­ing, meant­ing that the ac­tors had been forced to work­shop it as they re­hearsed.

De­spite the large scale high­tech pro­duc­tion, it was re­ally a se­ries of love sto­ries, said Aroha White – ‘‘lots of love squares’’.

The fourth cast mem­ber, Rau­mati ac­tor Ja­son Whyte, said it was a do­mes­tic story.

Pase­fika is di­rected by Su­san Wil­son. It opens at Circa Theatre on March 22 and runs un­til March 29.

Photo: JIM CHIPP

Wild colo­nial: Ge­orge Henare, Ja­son Whyte and Emma Ki­nane show off some of Pase­fika’s elab­o­rate cos­tumes.

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