Reo on Stage

Mo & Jess kill Susie is a Kiwi classic, when did you first come across it?

I came across Mo & Jess first as an actor looking for monologues, back in the aaaaages ago. It’s been one of my favourite plays since, so well written by Gary Henderson – taught, lean and hard hitting.

What gave you the idea to revive it?

We’ve been working on presenting contemporary Māori theatre for a while now. I’m really eager to get our reo on our professional stages in contemporary works rather, than historic narratives which we’ve often done. This re-inforces the message that Te Reo Māori is for now, its for our current and future everyday lives, and its for us all. Last year we presented the already translated version of Briar Grace Smith’s Purapurawhetū. This year we wanted to add to the cannon of Te Reo Māori theatre, with Ani-Piki Tuari leading the translation and a group of strong women driving the project we looked for a female dominant work and thought why not re-claim a play that has Māori characters but is written by a Pākeha playwright and see what happens, what changes when we re-invent it as a Te Reo Māori play. It’s a brave idea as it’s a thriller and its rough and raw and it tackles some stereotypes, asking the audience to see past them to the women beneath – 80% in te reo Māori.

How much has performing the it in Te Reo changed the show?

Some of the logics and the context has changed in the story, about 80% of the play is in Te Reo Māori but there’s still parts in English in the original script. I think it’s quite a different take on the well-known show. I think it changes the dynamics of the relationships with the characters, heightening what’s already there.

What reaction are you hoping the show gets?

We hope the show gets really definite responses, we hope people enjoy the narrative, enjoy the reo, empathise with these women and form solid opinions on what this play does or does not say about the future of Māori-Pākeha relations. We hope people watch this and go, Wow, I’ve never seen heard or seen Te Reo Māori in that kind of context, there should be more Te Reo Maori theatre on our stages!

What does Matariki mean to you?

Matariki to me means a time of looking back, thinking of those who have passed in the year, thinking together about what the future holds and sharing knowledge, kai, reo.

What are your fondest memories of Matariki?

Hakari. All the hakari!

See E Kore A Muri E Hokia // Mo & Jess Kill Susie at The Basement until 1 Jul.