Footprints/Tapuwae is a bicultural opera that juxtaposes motifs from Wagner’s Ring Cycle with waiata and haka. Supported by Christchurch City Council, this performance was performed as part of an event called Te Puna Toi, which fosters contemporary interdisciplinary performance. This event saw Free Theatre collaborate with Taiporoutu Huata and kapa haka performers from Te Ahikōmau a Hamoterangi and Te Pao a Tahu, both of whom recently represented the Waitaha (greater Canterbury) region at Te Matatini.
As an annual event, Free Theatre's Te Puna Toi works between the local and the international, and between the avant-garde and the traditional in theatre, performance and film. It is especially interested in producing ideas about the performance of encounter and identity between cultures – in particular, between the European and Māori, but also amongst European, Māori, Pasifika, Asian and other peoples, as New Zealand becomes increasingly multi-cultural in its orientation. This is especially relevant in post-quake Christchurch where the usual ideas around identity have been unsettled and new migrants come to help build a new city - there is an opportunity here to create meetings between cultures that lead to new and surprising ideas about who we are and where we are going.
For 2015, Taiporoutu Huata served as the first participant in the event’s cornerstone residency programme. He was also one of the speakers at the symposium during the event and led workshops that shared our experience working between opera and kapa haka.
The inaugural Te Puna Toi followed in the wake of Te Matatini in March 2015. While Te Puna Toi is a standalone event, the interest generated by Te Matatini helped provide an eager and interested audience for new work that engages with indigenous performance practice and identity. Te Puna Toi is one of the key projects in Free Theatre’s New Works Programme in The Gym – the first being the critically acclaimed and popular Kafka’s Amerika.
Reviews and Press for Footprints/Tapuwae:
"The opera is a daring vision of two cultures, two sets of footprints, inviting us to find commonalities and to relish distinctions. Bravo Free Theatre for taking us with you." http://www.theatreview.org.nz/reviews/review.php?id=8234
"There are moments of beautiful visual drama, some genuinely unsettling sequences and the show is definitely not short on mood."
For details on the 2001 Footprints/Tapuwae production please go to:
Article in The Press: ‘Footprints – Free Theatre stages bicultural opera’
'Perspective' article in The Press by George Parker: ‘It’s time for audiences to question our sense of place and identity’