Bless the Child: Behind the scenes

19 February 2018

Eight lives and three worlds collide in this powerful, thought-provoking and poetic piece of New Zealand theatre written by award-winning playwright Hone Kouka and directed by poet and writer Mīria George.

Image: Matt Grace

Bless the Child premieres on 28 February at Hannah Playhouse in Wellington at the 2018 New Zealand Festival. Get your tickets here. The play is co-produced by Tawata Productions, New Zealand Festival and Auckland Arts Festival.

Hone and Mīria: Writer and Director (Tawata Productions)

Award-winning playwright Hone Kouka says Bless the Child was initially inspired by a kōrero he had with his late mother, who urged him to use his art as a platform to discuss the pressing issue of violence against children in contemporary Aotearoa. Hone maintains that the play offers no singular solutions, and that the central challenge of the cast and creative team is ultimately to "ensure that we stage a play that captures the complexities of the human experience". Hone and Mīria talk about making this new New Zealand work in the video below.

The challenge for the cast and creative team is ultimately to “ensure that we stage a play that captures the complexities of the human experience”


Lionel and Cara: Actor and Costume Designer

The Bless the Child cast will showcase a wealth of young acting talent from around Aotearoa when the show opens on 28 February at Hannah Playhouse in Wellington. The cast includes Carrie Green, Regan Taylor, Moana Ete, Maia Diamond and Lionel Wellington. Award-winning actor Carrie Green plays the lead role of Shardae, while Regan Taylor returns home from Melbourne to play the role of Khan, where he’s been acting in the role of Othello at the Pop-Up Globe. Lionel Wellington is a well-known Shortland Street actor, playing Taylor. In the clip below Lionel Wellington and Costume Designer Cara Louise Waretini describe how they view Kouka's work in their own words and tell us what they hope audiences will take away from the experience of seeing Bless the Child.

Carrie and Moana: Actors

Actors Carrie Green (Shardae) and Moana Ete (Hinemoa) discuss the broader context of Bless the Child, with Carrie noting that the work is "less about the domestic violence aspect ... and more about what happens when these cases go into the public – the fallout with the media ... lawyers, whānau ... and how the mother figure becomes the central person in these stories." Moana, playing the character of Hinemoa (who is also a mother) often brings her new baby Manu to rehearsals, and says her young son serves as a poignant reminder to everyone on the set of Bless the Child that it is babies and children who are at the heart of Kouka's story. Moana says although the subject of the play is "challenging", there is "still so much hope and love there".

Although the subject of the play is challenging, “there is still so much hope and love there” (Moana)