Never before attempted by a New Zealand Theatre Company, in January 2017 Te Rākau presented a quartet of plays in repertory about the ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times in our country’s history: Helen Pearse-Otene’s The Undertow.
The plays were filmed by renowned Cinematographer Waka Attewell nzcs. He captured Te Rākau’s signature Theatre Marae style - retaining the physical and emotional immediacy of watching a live performance, and fused it together with cinematic conventions and language to create a new theatrical-cinematic genre. The best minds, talent, and facilities in the world have caressed, encouraged and cajoled this work into being, and UNDERTOW is now ready to be seen and experienced by the world.
The four chapters screened on Māori Television in October 2019, with the support of New Zealand On Air, Māori Television and Lotteries Tuia Encounters 250 fund, and are available OnDemand in New Zealand.
“Te Rākau have made a spectacle that’s vital and unlike anything being made in Wellington, and perhaps in New Zealand, today. It’s audacious, often beautiful and a welcome antidote to the state-of-the-nation plays that too often avoid wrangling with the colonial pollution of New Zealand's history.
It’s an uncompromising communication of the poison that runs deep in our land, a powerful challenge to remember a history that never stopped living, and a stirring invitation for us to come together, to connect, and to start healing.” Pantograph Punch | Adam Goodall