BARE by Toa Fraser
- PREMIÈRED AUGUST 1999; Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival
- PRESENTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH REAL PRODUCTIONS (NZ)
- written by Toa Fraser
- performed by Madeleine Sami & Ian Hughes
- directed by Michael Quy
New Zealand is a young country struggling to find a national identity independent of its British roots and pervasive Americanism. We have thrown off the shackles of our colonial past and are at last finding our own way. But in a country so isolated with a population of only 3.5 million, it's hard not to have to rely on others.
The country is beautiful and uncluttered, offering tropical paradise in the north and alpine splendour in the south. We are a predominantly pleasant, cool people with a rich mixed culture richened by the merging of the best of western civilisation and the beauty of Polynesian. We are also a strong, wilful people borne of a hearty farming heritage which means we don't give up easily. And we have more than a fair share of sporting heroes for our size (as the world will once again soon be reminded!) But while the common perception of New Zealand is agricultural, most of the population actually live in the city. Auckland is a sprawling metropolis the size of London with 1.3 million people. And here lies the inspiration for Bare.
New Zealanders are very world aware - perhaps a reaction to our geographic isolation... but the world is gradually finding out who we are too and seems to be impressed. Who we will eventually become is still a mystery... but the journey is exciting.
Bare was written over six months while its author, Toa Fraser, worked in a cinema. He quit this job two days after the show premiered in Auckland to take up writing full-time. Together with director Michael Quy and actors Ian Hughes and Madeleine Sami, over three hours of material was honed down to just 80 minutes over three weeks of rehearsals. In the rush to opening night none of us were quite sure if it was all there, but our doubts were soon quashed as the critics raved and the crowds flocked in.
Bare then took off with a tour to our capital city, Wellington and then to Christchurch, the main city of the South Island. Our Arts Council, Creative New Zealand, was quick to see the work's potential and gave us the financial support we needed to get the tour off to a flying start. They have since sponsored this trip to the greatest arts festival of them all.
The play itself is a series of interlinked portraits. Two actors present about 16 very different characters in monologue form. A loose narrative builds, almost like a whodunit, as the characters appear in their individuality telling their own stories, and then reappear in someone else's. The interweaving stories tell a story of their own eventually painting a vivid, vibrant picture of a modern New Zealand society.
It's cleverly told with a twist of humour and dash of spice, but one thing's for sure... you'll never look at Kiwis the same way again!
"Cuts to the heart of the personal and the political, revealing an appealing community of opposites." (The Times 09/08/99)
"Bare is a beautiful exposition of modern New Zealand culture, explosively funny and heart-rendingly poignant." (Three Weeks 14/08/99)
"New Zealand two-hander that really gets under the skin, plus one of the funniest lovemaking scenes you'll ever see in live theatre." (The List 12-19/08/99)
"This comes all the way from New Zealand with two actors, an ear for the spoken language, a ticklish sense of humour and a breath of fresh Pacific air. Don't miss it."(Triple F 08/99)
"Performers Madeleine Sami and Ian Hughes allow the whole thing to unfold with a delicacy that explores the funny side of life as well as its poignancy." (The Times)
"Fiery passion, exquisite sadness, superb comedy, erotically delicate... Marvellous!" (NZ Dominion)
"The power of theatre at its best" (The NZ Herald)