Kinetic Wayfinding believe in telling stories that need to be heard.
Of course, that’s not an unfamiliar commitment but the company’s family-orientated kaupapa mean they create works in different ways and through different processes. Equally importantly, they do it in ways that directly respond to addressing the needs of Pasifika youth.
MOVE encapsulates this commitment perfectly. It’s a funky, upbeat, moving work of theatre that showcases the talents of young people between the ages of 14-24.
The central story revolves around two siblings Lupe (Jennifer Perez) and Mark (Isaac Ah Kiong). Caught up in a world of hashtags and selfies they capture their life through the number of likes and shares on social media, sadly unaware that while they’re absorbed in the latest ‘insta’ trend their beloved father is slipping from this world to the next.
They’re not alone, however, because there’s a groundswell of aunties, uncles and cousins to support them – not to mention their friend Diamond (Darren Taniue) who is the perfectly recognisable trope of ‘that friend’. He’s the one who loves-his-face-as-much-as-his-clothes-but-his-friends-of-course-come-first with a dozen exclamation marks and kisses in every message. Diamond isn’t shy of telling them how it is and often directly addresses his fans through his own TV show. He does so with sass and swag by the truckload and in doing so brings much humour and comic relief to the work.
These three are solid young actors with Perez bringing beautiful tenderness and strength to her role while Kiong shows a tremendous growth of character as the transition from child to man of the house. Taniue has the audience in stitches as he brilliantly satirises all that we know of today’s youth – in one deliciously recognisable character.
But there’s more. Undertones and subtext reverberate throughout the fluid dance-theatre narrative, reminding the audience there still are issues that need to be addressed. However the message is never didactic nor does it veer in that direction at all. Through the use of masks, dance, delicate but sharp lighting and a beautiful soundscape, there is a depth to this work that resonates with the energy that has been committed to shaping and sculpting these stories.
It’s not a simple three actor performance either. The main characters are supported by an ensemble including Moose A-Hi, Sisi Patea, Valentino Maliko and Maxine Etuati Kalolo who embody the creative muses: Word, Music, Creativity and the Dance. Collectively they create a dynamic, engaging and visually appealing movement piece that is brought to life through Maxine’s exceptional choreography, Pos Mavaega’s lighting and Tausani Ah Chong’s sound design.
The highlight of the work is allowing the mash-ups of contemporary pop songs (everybody was bobbing their heads and tapping toes) with beautiful original music. Valentino Maliko is a music director to look out for and composer Sisi Patea has shown some beautiful arrangements.
The work uses multi-media to excellent effect and as a whole the story is integrated. It’s not perfect, but it holds together as a cohesive work that adheres to its core. On opening night there were a few clunky things that need ironing out. These included transitions which took longer than they should, a few scenes which had a little too much repetition and some technical hiccups.
However, those are easily fixed quibbles. Directors Heto Ah Hi and Leilani Clarke have achieved a hugely commendable production and should be rightfully proud.
More than just a work of theatre, MOVE is another step in the right direction to acknowledge and affirm Pasifika youth on a mainstage sharing their stories. When the final claps had subsided and the lights came up I hear a teenage daughter lean over to her father and say with a big smile: “That was so cool.”
Really, what more needs to be said?