Arts on Friday
The state of the Manawatu River spurred playwright Angie Farrow into action, writes EMMA GOODWIN.
Angie Farrow says her new play The River chose her, as plays often do.
"It came to me a year ago when [ecologist] Mike Joy was talking in The Square during a festival relating to the Manawatu River," she says.
"He was talking about how it was polluted and I was shocked at how it had got into such a state.
"I came away thinking what can I do and the idea of a play came to me.
"I think plays choose you, and this one did.
"I went and applied for a grant to write and make it, found the director Jaime Dorner and then I had to find the people to act in it."
It has taken a year for Farrow to finish the play and now it is about to hit the stage for its first public performance.
Farrow is quick to point out that this is not a political play, and while there has been a lot of talk about who is responsible for the state of the river, there is no finger-pointing in the script.
"I had to get away from the political speak. This is about how the river relates to the community it serves."
The plot is about a Maori astrophysicist who is drawn to the river through the land, but she is also seeing things from a universal perspective.
A young girl gets sick after swimming in the river and there's a mute teenager who has the ability to see spirits.
"It's accessible but it definitely has theatrical elements too, it's a physical theatre piece."
With an eight-voice choir and innovative director Dorner at the helm, Farrow says it is a dynamic piece of theatre that is thought provoking and engaging.
Dorner has a reputation for dark and funky work and The River is no exception.
"It has a funky twist, but it is subtle and poetic," he says.
"But it is not depressing, it is a piece full of hope."
Dorner says it has been a challenge to integrate projections and a capella numbers, but rehearsals are going smoothly and things are going to plan.
"There are lots of logistics to put together and it's been a challenge with a project of this scale.
"But my job has been to do justice to the script and I have had to really think about that. I believe we have done so."
The River opens on November 2 at the Massey University drama workshop on the Hokowhitu campus.
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