A New Archive

Not all women are born equal. A community meeting turned bloody backlash, Saraid Cameron and Amelia Reynolds' Cult Show: The Revitalisation of the New Zealand Women's Archives invites you to meet the women you have almost definitely never heard about.

Jonty spoke to Amelia all about the show:

HOW DID THE SHOW ORIGINATE? HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH AUCKLAND MUSEUM?

Saraid used to work as a children's entertainer at Auckland Museum so she had the hook-ups (cheers mate). Specifically, we have been working with Audience Development and Engagement Specialist Dina Jezdic and Curator Manuscripts Nina Finigan. Their own practice is very aligned with the kind of work we wanted to make and so they were like "heck yes, let's work together".

From there Nina introduced us to the New Zealand Women's Archives. It is this incredible, relatively unknown and untouched, collection of 8000-or-so newspaper articles and biographies of New Zealand women collected between 1955 and the late 80s/early 90s. We have actually made a new archive and are calling for people to submit their favourite femme-identifying and non-binary babes. It's called NZ Women's Archives 2.0. The website is nzwomensarchives.wordpress.com and you should totally contribute.

TELL US ABOUT THE WRITING PROCESS, HOW MUCH WAS SCRIPTED VERSUS DEVELOPED THROUGH IMPROVISATION?

We have been working on the show for over a year now, and were super stoked to be supported through the Basement as part of its PlayScience programme last year, with Kate Prior as our dramaturge and Nisha Madhan there as director.

As a result of this development we started the rehearsal process with a pretty locked in script which has stayed true to where it began - with some changes here and there to the text but not the overall structure.

Nisha has a magical ability to break open text and find the game hidden in the white space. When you have been staring at a text document for a year that feels very necessary. She is a literal genius, just in case you didn't know.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER IN THE WAITAKERE'S, WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS?

Think Teen Witch.

ANY FAVOURITE MOMENTS TO SHARE FROM THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SHOW?

Being introduced to the archives was a pretty special moment. They are housed in these dusty manilla folders and it felt like we had discovered an underworld when Nina first brought out some of them.

WHAT REACTION ARE YOU HOPING THE SHOW GETS?

The feminist movement has historically served the interests of the educated, middle-class, white woman. We hope audiences watch the show and reflect on the importance of giving space to everyone at the table with compassion and openness for themselves and the people around them. We also hope they submit to the archive. Go on - do it.

Cult Show: The Revitalisation of the New Zealand Women's Archives is on at Basement Theatre from 29 May - 02 Jun. Book tickets or find out more here.