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Friday, 19 April 2019 02:25 pm

Schools team together on the Battalion

The Battalion is the first production combining St Oran’s and St Patricks College Silverstream.

Director Jim Moriarty chose the play The Battalion for the first production combining St Oran’s and St Patricks College Silverstream.

This is his third engagement with St Oran’s and first with St Pat’s.

The Battalion is a moving story about friendship, loyalty, madness and redemption in the 28th Maori Battalion – seen through the eyes of Paora Matene, a war veteran, and relayed to his wayward charges Rimini and George. Paora tells Rimini and George about his experience in World War 2.

Play director, Jim Moriarty

He said The Battalion was an important play for New Zealanders to see because we just celebrated ANZAC Day.

Some of the challenges for the students in performing the play were creating a family environment, and fitness, for example they did 100 squats in warm-ups and some army drills.

The challenge for Moriarty was how to present The Battalion.

He is the father to eight children and so knows it has to be relevant to younger people.

He thought the group of young people from the colleges learned from the old man looking back on World War 2.

NewsWire sat down with six of the cast members during a break in rehearsals.

Some of the actors have had experience in productions like The Battalion before, in fact Annie Ashton and Shifna Shahabdeen have worked with Te Rakau before.

Te Rakau is a Maori Community Theatre and Theatre in Education company run by Moriarty.

Some of the main characters were played by different students during the course of the week.

Shifna played Eleni, one of the main characters, who is based on Helen Pearse-Otene, the author of The Battalion.

Annie and Sarah Fulbrook played Sue, a caring social worker. Sarah based her performance on her mum and dad.

Kiann Goonewardene played Wiremu, a character who loved cars and hanging out with his mates. Kiann said he was able to base the character on himself.

The cast worked through 300 hours of rehearsals.

They had to do research including watching dance moves and pronouncing the Maori words correctly.

They say they’ve learned to be disciplined and respect other people when participating in theatre.

The highlight for them was the opening night.

There were benefits of the students from St Oran’s and St Pat’s Stream working together on The Battalion.

Shifna said in the production with St Pat’s they had a good bond.

Kiann said he enjoyed working with the girls because it helped him not to be shy around them.

They felt nervous when they finally performed the play to the audience after all the preparation, and the work on the performance earns NCEA credits.

The Battalion is the play Moriarty is most proud of.

Moriarty was awarded a Member of NZ Order of Merit for services to drama in 2001 and he thought it was a surprise, it was a good honour and he accepted it on the behalf of the people who worked for.

Moriarty has previously worked with inmates in prison and he thought of choosing to work with prisoners and to give them the experience of theatre because he loves theatre.


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