By Briar Grace-Smith
20 MAR - 12 APR 2014 — Drama
Auckland Theatre Company
100 minutes with no interval
Auckland Theatre Company - Paniora
Co-produced with the New Zealand Festival and presented in association with Okareka Dance Company.
A thousand whanau secrets are woven into fate as an East Coast hapu fights to preserve its unique heritage. The Paniora have Spanish blood coursing through their veins. Prosperous, passionate and proud, the Hotai-Martinez family lives in an elegant homestead where they speak Spanish, eat tapas and dance the flamenco. Yet, beneath their fervent pride, they have demons to face; the one thing that can bring the Paniora - their "casta" or spirit - together is the thing that's driving them apart.
Briar Grace-Smith is an award-winning writer of theatre, film and short fiction and is of Nga - Puhi descent. Her plays have won wide acclaim both nationally and on international tours and her first screenplay, The Strength of Water, was selected for screening at Rotterdam and Berlin film festivals.
Arts Foundation Laureate, Briar Grace-Smith is undoubtedly one of New Zealand's most exciting playwrights. Her work is atonce contemporary and deeply bedded in Maori mythology. In Paniora!, Briar works Spanish and the culture of the bullfight intothe mix. A potent blend of dance, drama, magic realism and soul-stirring music, Paniora! features leading Maori actors, Tai Royal and dancers from Okareka Dance Company.
Flamenco Dance Tutor
Paniora is an extraordinary piece of theatre. I can't think of any New Zealand play, Maori or Pakeha, which is anything like it, combining as it does storytelling, dance, music, family melodrama, and a touch of farce and sprinkling of magic realism
As the exclamation promises, Paniora! is a spectacle: full of dance, dust and colour. Briar Grace-Smith's anticipated new play puts an often humorous, fairytale twist on the Maori family melodrama genre.
Like all good stories you have an idea, a spark that ignites and burns then erupts into a wildfire. What better story fodder could you ask for, than this of the hot-blooded Spaniard, Manuel José, who married five Māori women with whom the Paniora whanau was created!
...it is exciting to be in on the 'birth' of a brand new work by some of our leading theatre artists, and there are many memorable moments, both dramatic and comical, to savour: the attempts at flamenco; the lonely woman on the hillside at night; the stampede with dust flying; the Spanish chest and its contents; the bullfight; the haka that reclaims what was nearly lost.
It is refreshing to see a clever and humorous play that examines the collision of Maori tikanga with a culture other than Anglo-Saxon. In Briar Grace-Smith's new Paniora! it is a Spaniard who came ashore and took a number of wives, so creating many contemporary descendents. Some of them have gathered for the dedication of a new wharenui.