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Tuesday, 21 May 2019 04:36 am

Students balance violence, sex, Arabian culture

Circus students practice Adagio for new production The Arabian Nights

Henry the Eighth, but on cocaine, is how students describe their production The Arabian Nights that is soon to grace Te Auaha’s new theatre.

A class of 14 second year stage and screen students along with first year circus class started rehearsals this week for the show at the end of semester in June.

One student involved, Henry LaHatte, says the timeframe is short but there are some aspects that need extra attention.

“There are a lot of cultural things in there as well that we have to be aware of,” LaHatte says.

The play is set in Iraq, and is fundamentally a love story entwined with violence and sex.

Shahryar is the King of a great empire. Brokenhearted, he marries a new woman each day and murders her in the morning.

The story intersects as the protagonist, Scheherezade, saves her life by telling Shahryar a story which extends over one thousand and one nights.

Based of Arabic folk tales, the deep narrative is hard to summarise which motivates LaHatte.

“I think it is ambitious but I think it is also quite fantastic at the same time. Because it is exploring a culture that is probably quite taboo to put on,” LaHatte says.

Nerves are high for stage and screen student says Jonathan Beresford, who understands the importance that the culture has in the play.

“The danger is we have really got to try and bring truth to the role and we have to really acknowledge some cultural aspects. If we skip over it then we can offend a lot of people”.

The role of stage and screen students is to bring to life the script through acting, song and dance.

To emphasise the vibrant set the students are lining up with the first year circus class.

Students brainstorming riot scenes for The Arabian Nights

Performing in three scenes, circus student Raphaela Walsh is excited to be learning new skill of Adagio along the way.

“It’s like people balancing on each other, and being supported from each other, on the shoulders or on the knees, ” Walsh says.

Walsh feels confident they have time to prepare as they are only needed for three scenes.

The class plans to incorporate silk, sheet juggling and group acrobatics in riot scenes to enhance the chaos.

“There is a scene where some women are hanging, they have been like strangled and so we are going to hopefully use the silks to show that,” Walsh says.

“It’s really cool to see how you can make a lot of cool shapes, and there is a lot of power in more people,” she says.

Year one stage and screen students will coordinate the stagecraft including the publicity and front of house.

Posters will appear soon around the campus and admission is open to the public.

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is looking to change the shape of te ao Māori in mainstream media having previously studied at Massey University, completing a Bachelor of Communications.
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