I had the privilege of seeing a development showing of Louise Potiki Bryant’s Ngaro earlier in the year. I’ve always loved Louise’s work and the brilliant way she integrates film and AV into her performances. Add in some infectious beats by Paddy Free and textile couture by Rona Ngahuia Osborne (I loved her funky boutique Native Agent that used to be in Kingsland) and you’ve got a recipe for something quite extraordinary.
To be honest, I was surprised at how colourful the work was. Ngaro takes us through a journey of one person’s experience of mental illness, but it’s not a depressing work. Not in the slightest. Louise once commented that mental illness can be quite colourful, not just all darkness. At the development showing earlier this year in a tiny studio theatre space out at Corban’s Estate in West Auckland, Louise’s use of production components, including set and AV, combined with her movement practice invited us into a vibrant and, at times, almost jubilant environment where colour plastered every square inch of the space. A motif of brightly coloured Post-It notes strewn about in situ and on screen offered a vitality that was quite unexpected but very compelling.
Ngaro was born out of time spent in New York as part of the Harriet Friedlander Residency Louise was awarded in 2014. The energy of a city that, truly, never sleeps is in this work, as is an unrelenting stimulation of the senses that gives life but can also give way to darkness.