Zesty. Radiant. Rooted. Grace Bently on Woman of Citrus

Grace Bentley makes her Basement Theatre and Auckland debut with her exciting new solo show, Woman of Citrus - a big pot of movement, rhyming words and absurd character comedy. With a focus on her mixed-race heritage, navigating her sense of self while growing up in small-town Kerikeri and exploring her own sense of cultural appropriation, she opens the conversation on the new, but not so new and ever-growing generation of mixed race kids in New Zealand. We talked to Grace about the show, have a read!

What inspired you to make this work?

Inspiration. My Sister, exposure for people who look like me, Solange, The Bay of Islands, Coco Fusco, my experience in NZ’s education system and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book “Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race”

What has the devising process been like?

Devising! I love it. Well I love the generation stage of it. I just lock myself in a room and put on some music and make characters, moves, things. Keeping track of all those things is the hard part and putting them into writing - giving the show a structure. That has been the challenging part. But I am working with Jo Randerson now who is directing this show and she is really great at the parts I find sticky. So is Dione Joseph who is a dramaturgical wiz and a fellow woman of colour so is really helping me deepen the work.

How is it making a solo work?

It has been fruitful but tough. I have been working in a lot of isolation and then in bursts with either one or quite a few people at a time. I am really grateful for Jo and Dione who have helped me so much to get this show up of the ground in its final stages of development. I have moved from my swirling mind cave and into the light. But I feel like that is what solo work is like, hence the word solo.

How do you use movement and poetry in this piece?

In terms of movement, I use it to define and create character and I’m not good with words all the time so sometimes I use movement to help me with that as well. Poetry... well it started as a full on poetry piece but we have thinned out on that front and a few poems crop up here and there. I love poems though, especially descriptive ones. I like using words to describe boring situations or things that are better said in metaphors for more potent impact or are just crack up.

Woman of Citrus is on at Basement Theatre from 09 - 20 April. Book tickets or find out more here.