Theatre in Oceania – Detecting the spirit of the islands in a playful way

We travel around the world and locate Oceania on the other side of the globe. The beauty and splendour of New Zealand’s nature and culture is reflected in the Maori Theatre. We came together from all parts of the world, spoke different languages. Our workshop leaders were Rangimoana Taylor and Bronwyn Tweedle: he, who spoke nothing but Maori, and she, as interpreter for German or English. Together they guided us through the colourful theatre world of the Maori. We were their guests, they were our hosts.
Maori theatre is characterized by rituals, chants. The environment the Maoris live in has a strong influence on the approach and the stories of their theatre. The actors, according to Rangimoana, act as birds, because they are the only ones being capable to fly to the Gods. Humans are not capable. Therefore, they are special. Thus, one realizes the strong affinity of Maori people towards nature and also towards human beings. The spirit of this tradition literally lent its wings to our group. We were birds, too. We built our nests, defended them against others and fraternized with those, who came along to help us. It was in a playful way that we discovered the spirit of the islands. Together, we could discover what the other one was made of, and we could reveal new qualities of ourselves, wonderful features. Never before have I seen such magnificent birds, acted out by human beings.
Rangimoana let us in on the traditions of his country: thankfulness, hospitality. Being allowed to experience this was relieving. Simply saying thank you! In this group, on this weekend, we threw off our chains. Our obstacles were overcome. Thus, we were emotionally touched, and so were our workshop leaders.
What we did during those days? We told each other stories. Very beautiful stories. And they will bring us back together again.
Hannah-Sofie Schäfer

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