Bringing physical expertise to theatre

Last updated 05:00 21/01/2014

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Laura Haughey arrived in New Zealand late last year - only to discover her face all over London.

The new Waikato University theatre studies lecturer had been talked into standing as the model for a photographer friend in England in what she thought would be a small thing - only to discover her image was the front of a major advertising campaign liberally spread around hoardings and buses in London.

Ms Haughey is a trained physiotherapist and entered theatre in an unusual way by touring with dance theatre companies in Britain and Europe.

"A lot of people find that confusing, but in dance the science of the body and the theatre comes together at a high level."

Ms Haughey has pursued a varied career working in several universities as a lecturer and director and as a freelance movement director for film and theatre.

Her passion for working "inclusively" - helping people with disabilities enjoy dance and theatre - led her to join the "signed' (using sign language for the hearing-impaired) dance theatre group Common Ground which incorporated dance and physical theatre.

She established her own company Equal Voices as a vehicle to explore anything with similar inclusive values, which she would like to recreate in New Zealand.

"I want to find out as much as I can about the theatre scene in Hamilton and New Zealand. I have been made a research associate for the University of Huddersfield, so I could set up satellite activities focusing on the physical side of dance theatre."

Ms Haughey recently finished her PhD, exploring the individual perception of body and space, a study related to movement, particularly in dance, but which also has broader relevance in everyday life around the improvement of physical performance.

The move to the other side of the world was made easier because her sister Abby married a Kiwi and lives in New Zealand with her family. Ms Haughey has visited five times in the past 10 years.

She has settled in Raglan with husband Andy. He is a composer, film-maker and surf-nut and continues his work in the UK with the help of the internet.

Meantime, Ms Haughey plans to take full advantage of her new environment and learn to surf - "if you can't beat them join them" - and take up paddleboarding for strength and fitness.

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- Waikato Times

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