Be | Longing


Be | Longing was a piece of documentary theatre presented through the Theatre Studies department here at Otago. Documentary theatre involves the actors working without a script. People are interviewed, on whatever subject matter the directors decide, and actors completely replicate the interview videos, including accents and body language.

Be | Longing is the final installment in Stuart Young and Hilary Halba’s three-part series. The play consisted of stories from immigrants and Kiwi ex-pats and gave a beautiful insight into people’s lives that you could never see elsewhere as they explored what it means to belong.

The set up was so unlike “usual” theatre. For the array of characters on stage there were no costume changes, no wings in which to hide, no elaborate sets. From the moment the doors opened the cast greeted us, walked around and seemed quite relaxed. We drew on a map of the world where we felt we “belonged” and took our seats. A live feed of the map was being filmed from above and fed through one of the two projectors, which made up the backdrop.

It never failed to impress me how smoothly people transitioned from a Dutch immigrant to an obnoxious Kiwi woman without losing a second of believability. You completely believe that this middle-aged male is actually a 14-year-old Iraqi boy.

It’s hard to sit and write about this show, as it’s difficult to explain all of the different components and how great they all were. All I can say is that I felt honoured to be allowed into these people’s lives and so glad to hear even a small piece of their story. Kudos Allen Hall!
This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2012.
Posted 6:37pm Sunday 11th March 2012 by Beaurey Chan.