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Sophie Roberts: 2021 Artistic Message

Sophie Roberts: 2021 Artistic Message

Night Of The Living Dead Card
Break Bread Card

Kia ora koutou,

I wanted to take a moment to share some of our thinking for next year. The way we are planning has, like for so many others, had to change. The pandemic has rocked our industry significantly and this means that looking to the future, we have to be much more adaptive in the way we work while the ground is still moving under our feet. This means our 2021 season looks a little different to normal.

This year has renewed my fierceness of belief in the power of artists. Artists are vital, they can capture the anxiety of our age, hold us spellbound and make us look at our world anew. One of the positive changes the last year has wrought is a reminder that we exist in a community, and for thousands of years our theatres have been a place where we seek each other out to feel that most acutely.

Change is necessary, but our need for each other, to share stories, and to be in imaginative spaces with one another isn’t going anywhere.

For us, being adaptive within our artform in a Covid environment means interrogating how we can move beyond the traditional black box theatre — so for next year we are looking at how we can present in a range of spaces and still bring you work that retains the shared, live, immersive characteristics of theatre. We’ve built a programme that’s capable of being presented at different lockdown levels, but because of this we won’t be able to confirm dates and venues until closer to the time.

We’re kicking things off next year by piling Every Brilliant Thing (props, costumes and people) into a van and taking this show on the road to some of our smaller communities in the regions.

We have a new Silo commission that will explore entirely new terrain, an audio theatre experience celebrating Matariki. This immersive encounter will weave Māori mythology with astronomy, magic and science and will be one that people of all ages will be able to take part in from their very own backyard.

Later in the year we creep into twilight with Live Live Cinema (Little Shops of Horrors, Carnival of Souls, Dementia 13) creating their most ambitious production yet, Night of the Living Dead. George Romero’s 1968 classic is projected in silence with live performers recreating the dialogue and the sound effects, while playing an original score by award-winning composer Leon Radojkovic.

And then we’ll finally gather for Break Bread, another original Silo commission, created by four of Aotearoa’s most inventive theatre-makers — Alice Canton, Freya Finch, Leon Wadham and Jarod Rawiri, directed by Jason Te Kare. Irreverent, profound and comically twisted, Break Bread collides age-old and new-world rituals — everything from weddings to funerals, from the Last Supper to a Zoom sourdough class, from the sacred to the profane — with new intimacy and electricity.

While 2021 is smaller and a bit more nimble that doesn’t mean the work is any less theatrical, contemporary or thought-provoking.

The future we envisage has so much potential, and we’re going to embrace it.

A future where theatre feels more exciting, urgent and gravity-shifting than it has ever been, and where we invest and enable our own artists to create incredible experiences.

In 2021, I’ll be taking 3 months leave to undergo and recover from major surgery. During this time, Ahi Karunaharan will oversee our programme of work in my absence alongside Jessica Smith. Ahi’s theatre career over the past 15 years has seen him work with various theatre companies such as Tawata, Prayas Theatre, Auckland Theatre Company and Silo, additionally, the establishment of his own theatre company Agaram Productions has been essential to the fostering of South Asian talent and stories on stage in Aotearoa. Ahi’s recent recognition as a 2020 Arts Foundation Laureate is a testament to his significant skill and leadership in our industry already, and we’re thrilled to have him join us for the year to come.

Sophie Roberts

Artistic Director

The Blind Date Project