Recently I went to see the award-winning play Te Po with my friends, and to say I felt blown away would be a giant understatement. I consider myself a total Luddite compared to my friends. Right from the start, when I met my girlfriends in high school, they invited me to do such cultured things as take grapes to the park and read poetry. They fascinated, enlightened, and challenged me in many ways. As adults, they have coerced me into going to art galleries, shows, and performances I would never attend on my own. I have been to one other play in my life, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. I was twelve. I felt a twinge of resistance when my friends suggested we attend a play together. But that is why these ladies are so good for me because they force me out of my low-brow comfort zone.

We met early in the evening for minestrone and then made our way to our local events center. Te Po, they told me, was part of the centenary celebration of New Zealand playwright Bruce Mason’s birth. The performers would appear in a theatre named after the playwright, and it was only on for two nights. Like a pop-up store, it was a pop-up theatre. Blink, and you would miss it. Luckily, I let my friends twist my arm, and we attended this lightning in a jar. Te Po, written by Carl Bland, is a comedy, as told by a policeman, a blind man, and a priest, about missing playwright Bruce Mason. And it is laugh-out-loud funny. Though sometimes, we wept.
Te Po is Maori for The Great Darkness, a destination for the dead. It is a place where the dead can revisit their potential and attain knowledge. The elderly Maori character anchors the piece, sings the songs, speaking melodic Maori and English, as the wise man who knows all. He bridges the gap between the worlds and brings spiritual depth.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Te Po. Live theatre is an enlivening experience. Who knew? The combination of a great story, plus fascinating human beings in 3-D, with lights, music, and special effects, was immersive, transformative, and captivating. I felt drawn further and further into the world they created. The mystery deepened in the first acts, and strange things happened, like, the furniture shifted unaided across the stage, giving us a visceral sense of being unsettled. At times, they closed the curtains, plunging us into darkness and playing the sounds of a wild crashing storm. The stage was incredible, with a writer’s office with windows that opened and bookshelves and chairs that moved across the stage. Towards the story apex, the colors deepened to sepia tones, and the whole set began to slide backwards, making the scene appear to dwindle. The effects were well done. Special mention must go to the puppeteer, who created a believable seagull and a captivating giraffe head that took our breath away.

It was interesting to compare how the script for a play follows similar conventions to writing fiction. The writer asked a question then withheld the answer. There was foreshadowing going on and red herrings that became important later. There were expectations set up then dashed. Though somewhat truncated, the characters each had an arc. And the rules changed most refreshingly as the story went along until we finally caught up to speed with the surreal nature of the piece. By then, we had abandoned ourselves to the ride anyway and didn’t care anymore. In the end, when the priest finally gives his last sermon, as promised, it provoked belly laughter from start to finish. We laughed till we cried. It was glorious.
I walked out energized, excited, and with a slightly altered view of the world (the whole intention of art). Now I understand why people around these parts have raved about this play. I am a convert to the wonders of live theatre. It is like a whole new world. Woohoo!

What about you, have you been to a live show lately?

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol
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Be at peace with where you’ve been and where you are. That’s how you win the battlefield of the mind. ~ Andrena Sawyer


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Comments
  1. Keith says:

    Yvette, it is terrific to have friends like that. You (and they in return) are blessed. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love live theatre and go to see as much as possible. having an actress/director daughter helps. Last play I absolutely loved start to finish, was Things I Know To Be True, written by Andre Bovell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Sounds great, Vivienne. I feel I’ve missed so much! Lucky you having a daughter in theatre. On our way out of Bruce Mason, we were handed flyers for The Campervan, which has its world premiere in a few weeks. I’m keen!

      Like

  3. The funny part is I don’t live in a culture icon of a city or even close to one, yet I’ve been to a several live performances: Hubby and I attended a murder mystery dinner party with friends through the local Business club many years ago. My one and only, but what fun. We even came away with prizes. I loved Cats. And River Dance! It was a rendition of West Side Story. We’ve also attended two plays at my sons’ old high school before our granddaughter graduated. Our sons wouldn’t have been caught dead performing. Thankfully granddaughter was more adventurous. I’m sure there are more live performances, (we have an awesome theatre house, but I’m a senior now and do occasionally draw a blank. go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi Joylene! When did you get back? It’s nice to hear from you and I hope your vacation was blissful. It sounds like you’re managing to imbibe culture even so. We’re in lockdown and so the next play we were set to attend has been postponed. As to other performances, I’ve been to a lot of live bands over the years but I’m struggling to come up with any other type of live performance…apart from my kids’ various musical shows at school over the years, I’ve got nothing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It wasn’t actually a holiday. We were stuck in Mexico for 2 years because of the pandemic. And because we don’t have a winter home in Canada. Trying to change that. We have power, a well, and are now waiting for the pump and wiring so I’ll have running water in our temporary home, the trailer. As for shows, anything off-Broadway will be a real treat. I would see CATS again in a minute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Oh, I must have missed that rather important detail somewhere along the line. I didn’t realize you were stuck because of the pandemic. Wow. I hope you get all your wiring and the pump sorted soon. Good luck.
      I’ll have to put a musical on my list of what to see!

      Like

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