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Review: Teen Faggots Come to Life

Thu 13 Feb 2014 In: Performance View at NDHA

The Basement Studio 13 February 2014 Starring Raukawa Tuhura, Jaycee Tanuvasa, Isaac Ah kiong, Amanaki Prescott-Faletau and Darren Taniue The great news about Teen Faggots Come to Life is that it’s absolutely brilliant. The not so great news is its Auckland Pride Festival shows are already sold out. If you have a ticket, count yourself lucky. The five brave young Maori and Pacific Island young people who identify as takataapui, gay, fa’afafine, fakaleiti and bisexual are completely captivating. They each take a turn to hold the audience entranced by their stories of love, hate and all the things which fall in between. Armed with just a single black chair and a whole lot of acting swag, they bring their entire worlds to life. The graceful Raukawa Tuhura offers Takatapui, a music and dance punctuated look at her journey to self-discovery and confidence. Along the way the audience gets to see right to the heart of her vulnerability, hear her aching waiata and watch her mad dance skills – including a marvellous spinning ballerina toy impression. Hilarious Jaycee Tanuvasa transforms a boys’ school uniform into something fiercely femme as she swaggers with magical physical comedy, bringing a cast of fun sidekicks to life, to tell the story of her first love, and how the world may have been against it, yet she managed to change her world. Natural actor Isaac Ah kiong manages to find humour in agony as he performs Michael’s World, the blunt story of a crush on the hottest boy in school which changes him forever. He shows us the god-awful crap still happening to our gay boys at school, and brilliantly acts out his path to becoming a survivor. Amanaki Prescott-Faletau is divine in S’he, a piece which begins with a schoolboy buying a confident trans schoolgirl a chicken burger, evolves into what seems to be a rare and beautiful love story, and ends leaving the audience with plenty to swallow. The words in this piece are stunning, it’s spoken word poetry. Darren Taniue’s Coming Home is as funny as the other pieces – these youngsters all have amazing flair for evoking the people in their lives. This striking performer’s story is a little different though. It shows that sometimes the worst bullies are among our own. It’s all technically flawless. The lighting and sound effects are perfect from the start. You will be haunted by the voices of the bullies and left in perfect moments of darkness to contemplate it all. While all the stories have elements of real life tragedy which ram home just how things aren’t better yet for so many of our youth, almost all end in power and strength. These kids are tough. And they won the respect of the opening night audience at The Basement. Dotted with kids and kuia, it was also diverse enough to fill a whole GLITFAB QUILTBAG. People from all walks of life loved this show. There were honks of laughter as the talented five-some who make up the cast strutted and worked it on stage, stunned silence when we re-lived some of the schoolyard horrors they’ve endured, and a roaring standing ovation at the end. This wonderfully-performed collection stories from young Maori and Pacific Island talents is not just entertaining, enlightening and heart-breaking, it’s bloody important. It lifts the lid on the utter inferno of oppression our kids are bravely strutting through every day. Teen Faggots Come to Life is a must see. So to the producers: PLEASE bring it back. And not just for the glbti community. Tour it everywhere. Take it into schools - show parents, educate educators. The Basement Studio stage is too small for these hugely important stories. Jacqui Stanford - 13th February 2014    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 13th February 2014 - 10:17pm

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