Waiora by Hone Kouka
Illinois State University, Fall 2016
Director: Kim Pereira
Scenic Designer: Bridgid Burge
Lighting Designer: Ethan Hollinger
Costume Designer: Jeannine Labate
Photography: Ethan Hollinger
Rendering with Production Photo Below
Evocative Image Board
-KCACTF Region 3 Honorable Mention
-Monograph Production for completion of M.F.A.
Waiora’s lighting captured the struggle of a family to stay grounded in their ever shifting world and expressed the playful spirituality of the Tipuna.
Waiora is a Maori theatre piece written by Hone Kouka. Despite the culture unfamiliar to many of us, it resonates with timeless themes. It is the story of a family struggling to fit in a new place, with a foreign culture, while longing for their home and family.
Hone, the father, has brought his wife, two daughters and adopted son to another island in New Zealand so he can make a better life for his family. The family is forced to trade their Maori culture for colonized Western society to survive. Hone invites the son’s school teacher and Hone’s boss to celebrate the youngest daughter Rongo’s birthday with a cookout on the beach. Cultural differences and frustrations abound as all try to understand each other. Meanwhile, the Tipuna (the Maori ancestral spirits) use Rongo’s longing for her homeland to lure her away from her family. The play’s climactic finale is the struggle between the family and the Tipuna over Rongo’s spirit- played out through haka (traditional Maori dance). Waiora challenges perceptions of culture and family, asking us to consider what it really means to be true to ourselves, and what is the price we must pay to do so.
Land, sea and sky were all very tangible- the beach, the pool of water for the ocean, and the expansive cyc for the sky. I worked to heighten these elements, playing with reflections from the pool cast all over the auditorium, mist from the sea for the Tipuna, and an ever-changing sky. In addition, I researched colors and symbols, finding many of our Western color/emotion associations to be different in the Maori culture. For example, to them red means strength & power, while green represents danger. So I began to incorporate their color palette, while still being mindful of the Western audience that would be watching the production.