Rawiri Paratene, best known for his part as Koro (grandfather) in NZ film Whale Rider, says the demand for theatre in Te Reo is on the rise.
Paratene took part in the first professional Te Reo Maori theatre production performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in April last year. He said the opportunity to perform a Te Reo Troilus and Cressida internationally in one of the world’s most famous theatres was “special indeed”.
And now, straight off the back from his worldwide Globe Theatre tour of Hamlet, Paratene is back in Aotearoa to perform the lead role of Hophepa in the award-winning theatre production of Purapurawhetu in full Te Reo Maori for the first time.
Paratene played the role in English four years ago, but the entire script has now been translated into Te Reo.
Purapurawhetu is a story of forgiveness, healing and hope. “Briar Grace-Smith has woven an intriguing story into this play, which is now a classic,” says Paratene. It’s the story of a man who hangs around the shore of an old run down village. A few kumara away from a hangi, the man (Hophepa) isn’t taken too seriously… until an old woman from a former relationship arrives and the story of their life and child together is told.
Paratene says performing a play in Te Reo is not a risky move as there are speakers educated in the language who have a keen interest in theatre and performing arts.
The production company is offering a deal where the public can attend an English version of the play and return to see it in discounted Te Reo.
“We’re working hard to make the production in Te Reo Maori accessible to a much wider audience,” says a member of the production company.
According to Paratene, it’s not unusual for audiences to attend foreign plays. “Very few of the good ones (operas) have English…” he says, “don’t let the fact a production is in the Maori language be a problem.”
Purapurawhetu will stage in full Te Reo Maori for two seasons from July 6-9 at Te Pou Theatre and from July 13-16 at The Herald Theatre. Adding to the Te Reo Maori translation, two English performances will also take place July 6 at Te Pou Theatre and July 13 at The Herald Theatre.