Nancy Brunning to direct Y&H Tour ’19

We are thrilled to have Nancy Brunning as the director and dramaturg of the Y&H Tour 2019; I AM MĀORI

I AM MĀORI will be touring schools around New Zealand from April 30th to June 21nd.  For more information about booking the tour; click here

Nancy Brunning


Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe. Nancy has been involved in professional theatre since 1992. She trained at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1990-1991, established herself as a theatre actor, director and dramaturge with Māori Theatre/Production Company Taki Rua Productions for well over 15 years.

She has acted for theatre throughout New Zealand and has directed theatre in English and Māori.  She also works as an actor and has assisted with dramaturgy with some of New Zealand’s most celebrated Māori Playwrights such as Briar Grace-Smith, Witi Ihimaera, Hone Kouka and Albert Belz to name a few.

In 2011, she wrote her first play which was produced in 2014 in Wellington, later that year she was selected as the first Indigenous NZ Writer at the Banff Indigenous Writers Residency in Canada 2014.  Hīkoi was then premiered at the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. Nancy is also an actor recently playing Ramona in “Mahana” ”Directed by Lee Tamahori based on the novel “Bulibasha” by Witi Ihimaera.  She is cast in the TV drama In Dark Places, the story about Teina Pora and the latest season of Brokenwood Mysteries. 

She has recorded many plays and short stories for Radio NZ, was casting manager and kaitautoko for Documentary/Drama film “Belief” about the tragic death of Wainuiomata resident Janet Moses.  Most recently she directed Albert Belz’s Astroman for The Court Theatre.

Hāpai Productions was co-founded by Nancy and Tanea Heke in 2013. Nancy took on the role of Producer/Director and Writer in their project Portrait of an Artist Mongrel celebrating the writing of Rowley Habib which was presented at this year’s Auckland Writers Festival.

2019 tour announcement – I AM MĀORI

Young & Hungry is pleased to present its theme for the 2019 tour;

I am Māori

Ordinary People changing the world

In the 50-minute no-tech programme brought directly to your school by Y&H Tours (A Country of Two Halves, OUTLIERS), I AM MĀORI showcases extracts from plays by Māori playwrights.

We are thrilled to have Nancy Brunning (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe) as the director and dramaturg of what will be another excellent show for your Drama and English students. 

Nancy is an actress, writer and director who has won awards in film and television and has made a major contribution to the growth of Māori arts, including acting as a dramaturg for some of New Zealand’s most celebrated Māori playwrights.

Nancy says she would aspire her storyteller super power to be matakite/seeing into the future.

“Ki te kahore he whakakitenga, ka ngaro te iwi – without foresight or vision the people will be lost”.

The programme will touch on topics such as family issues, politics and land rights, with a common thread being ordinary people doing extraordinary things to change their world, no matter who they are or their background. It is the connection to their culture that gives them great strength to fight their battles and find the hero within. 

I AM MĀORI will be touring to schools around New Zealand from April 30th to June 21nd.  

The programme will feature at least one extract from a playwright on the NZQA prescribed reading list, with all extracts confirmed by early term 1, 2019.

Booking information and a proposed tour route are now available on the website. Booking enquiries can be made directly via programme administrator Natasha at [email protected] or 04 385 8227

Stay tuned for more information being released in the coming months.

Curriculum support

Along with the performance at your school, your booking includes a study guide with:

  • A master script
  • Playwright bios and play synopses
  • a digital filming of the work which can be accessed anytime throughout the year after the performance,
  • notes and information from the creative team,
  • and pre and post show activities and exercises tailored to exam requirements.

Y&H Tours (Formerly EnsembleImpact: A Country of Two Halves, OUTLIERS)

Y&H Tours takes New Zealand theatre to secondary schools, universities and youth theatre groups around the country. Created to support the drama curriculum, it showcases a themed collection of New Zealand playwrights, tells New Zealand stories, addresses issues that are relevant to New Zealand youth, and employs young New Zealand actors at the start of their professional careers.

Performed in traverse by four young professional actors, the show requires no lighting or sound set up. It is ideally suited to Drama students in years 10 -13 and has a 5-minute Q and A built into the programme. 

Ambassador Review – Mrs Krishnan’s Party

Te Auaha Theatre; September 19, 2018 
Reviewed by Alexandra Hickman, Samuel Marsden Collegiate

Remarkable, welcoming and comforting are a few words that easily spring to mind when describing the sequel to the well-received Krishnan’s Dairy, Mrs Krishnan’s Party. Indian Ink is, once again, pulling heartstrings, continuing the story as Mrs Krishnan moves on with life after the death of her husband. Welcomed into her home by optimistic, fun-loving James, we immediately become the heart of the party and are immersed in the tales of the characters as we soon learn that not everything is quite what it seems, for good and for bad. With aspects of a detailed drama and an interactive show aiming to get its audience thinking, Mrs Krishnan’s Party is a unique experience no one should miss.

In Mrs Krishnan’s Dairy, people of all walks of life are brought together, united in confusion, anticipation and fear, to celebrate the South Indian harvest festival of Onam, in a show where nothing goes quite as expected. Rogers’ and Nagarajan’s brilliant mix of improv, script and pure comedic talent make the show. While Mrs Krishnan’s Party will definitely have you laughing from the moment you arrive, the subtle themes of the show hide a deeper message, prompting audiences to consider the true meaning of family, life’s purpose and grappling with change.

The intimate feel is well-created and nurtured throughout the show as the actors move among you and you truly become a part of the plot. With a two-person cast, it is often difficult to keep the wanted atmosphere but both Kalyani Nagarajan (Mrs Krishnan) and Justin Rogers (James) never fail to entertain. Both actors Rogers and Nagarajan add comedic flair as well as bringing the theatre to an absolute standstill in those tense moments when you could hear a pin drop. For Indian Ink fans, this was a unique peek into the background of Krishnan’s Dairy, with a set that more than makes up the behind-the-scenes of our imagination.

Mrs Krishnan’s Party is a truly one-of-a-kind experience and one that should not be skipped. Mrs Krishnan’s Party will continue to feature in Wellington until September 29th and booking tickets is definitely worth it for a night out of heart-warming, quality theatre.

Y&H Ambassadors Janhavi, Alexandra and Anna with Justin Rogers after the performance of Mrs Krishnan’s Party.


Monday Meets – Who We’ve Met!

The new Monday Meets have been a chance for young theatre makers to meet industry professionals and test out new work through the scratch nights. 

Check out some of our past Meets and guest speakers below: 

  • Monday 15 October – MEET DEAN HEWISON– Writer and Director for film and theatre

Dean Hewison is a writer and director for film, theatre, TV and commercials. He has been making short films since he was 15, picking up a small collection of awards and trophies along the way for various music videos and 48HOURS films – including the National Champion, two Wellington winners and two Peter Jackson Wildcards.

Since 2003, Dean has written and directed several plays, beginning with Head of the House, winner of the NZ Young Playwrights Competition and Chapman Tripp Theatre Award nominee for Outstanding New Playwright. He has since written for the stage Brain Power, The Henchman (Young and Hungry 2007), FootBallistic, Hypnotastic, 2009 STAB commission Live at Six (which toured nationally), Conversations With My Penis and Jingles – The Musical! which won three NZ Fringe Awards.

In 2012 he directed and co-wrote the Make My Movie-winning feature film How to Meet Girls From a Distance.

He has had a fantastic and varied career worth hearing about!

  • Monday 1 October – SCRATCH NIGHT – working on a play in development by Kirsty Rawstron

Participants had a great time workshopping the play Girlfriendzoned! 

 Kirsti worked on this play during the recent Y&H Playwriting Workshop with Dave Armstrong and we were excited to be able to help her take it further with the Scratch Night. 

Several scenes from the play were developed during the night. Kirsti says that it is “about when a girl thinks she has a friend, but the guy thinks he has a new girlfriend. It’s awkward and painful and ruins friendships and happens too damn often.”

  • Monday 17 September – RICKY DEY – Actor / Director / Writer / Stage Combat 

Ricky Dey is an actor, writer and director from Wellington, NZ. He has twice been nominated for Best Actor at The Chapmann Tripp Theatre awards, winning in 2012 for All My Sons and in 2014 for Constellations. Ricky has appeared in Trick of the Light Theatre’s sellout show The Devils Half Acre (NZ International Arts Festival) as well as Midsummer; a play with songs, Ache and the NZ premiere of Nick Payne’s internationally acclaimed work Constellations. He is also a company member of SiteSpecific Theatre NZ which was responsible for the highly acclaimed devised works Hotel and Salon.

Onscreen Ricky has appeared in the local comedy smash hit Wellington Paranormal, the yet to be released major motion picture Mortal Engines and doco dramas Mistress Mercy, Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story and War News.

In 2017 Ricky completed his MA in Creative Scriptwriting at the prestigious International Institute of Modern Letters where his body of work received the coveted Brad McGann Film Writing award for Best Feature Script. As a theatre maker Ricky has also devised and written for the stage, most notably with Black Tuesday.

Ricky also works as a Senior tutor at Te Auaha (NZ Institute of Creativity).

  • Monday 3 September – Fluently Scriptless (intro into improv) with Clare Kerrison 

Participants had a great time in this introduction to the art of improvised scene work,  led by Clare Kerrison who took us through a bunch of fun games and exercises guiding us from freeze to flow, from gabbling to generous, and from scared scriptless to fluently spontaneous. 

Clare Kerrison is an arts administrator and improv tutor based in Wellington. She’s been a clown at a shopping mall in Germany, gained her theatre qualifications from NASDA (Christchurch), been Business Manager for BATS Theatre, conceived of and played the lead role in Wild Duck’s 2009 contemporary NZ production of Hedda Gabler, co-founded the Cambridge Improv Factory (UK), and taught for Basejump Improv (Wellington). You might have seen Clare at Y&H when she managed the 2017 Schools Tour or maybe you’ve seen her improvising: e.g. in the annual Fringe Festival improvised soap opera, at Late Night Knife Fight at BATS, in The Monthly at Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre or in her own shows: Meet Cute (with a guest) or Infernal Recall (solo).

  •  Monday 20 August – Meet THOMAS SAINSBURY

Tom Sainsbury inspired those in attendance with his ’75 life lessons’ and stories from his career as a playwright, actor on both stage and screen, director, screenwriter, comedian and




  • Monday 6 August – SCRATCH NIGHT – work on a play in development by ELLY LOVE

The Y&H community had fun working on two promising scripts, congrats to writers Elly and Kirsti. Actors, writers, directors and audience members were on hand to help read scenes, offer feedback and watch as exciting new works took shape. 

ELLY LOVE is a graduate of Victoria University, where she majored in theatre, and minored in film. Elly has participated in Young & Hungry’s Playwrights’ Initiative, and performed at the Fringe Festival (Mostly Fine’s debut of Mostly Fine with Afternoon Showers). Since then, Elly has jumped into the world of zine fests, painting, poetry and writing. She hopes to have something published within the next year. Ultimately, Elly has aspirations of being a stand-up comedian, although she is yet to impress her friends. Until her glorious comedy debut, Elly is loving the Wellington theatre scene, and is excited to become involved in future projects.

  • Monday 23 July – Meet ELEANOR BISHOP 

We had a great night with Eleanor Bishop, where she gave a good insight into her process and career development.

Eleanor Bishop is a writer and director creating feminist theatre, currently based between New Zealand and New York. She has been described as “one of New Zealand’s most daring, intelligent, and political directors” (The Theatre Times). Eleanor’s recent work includes George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession (Auckland Theatre Company 2018), Body Double (created with Julia Croft & Karin McCracken, STAB Commission 2017, BATS Theatre, Silo Theatre/Auckland Arts Festival 2018), Othello (Unitec School of Performing Arts 2017) and Jane Doe, a participatory piece about rape culture that has evolved over three years with participation from multiple colleges campuses in the United States.


Tour ends with three shows at BATS

Young & Hungry’s tour of A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES comes to an end in Wellington with three public performances at BATS Theatre.

July 5th, 6th and 7th  | 6.30PM

BATS Theatre | 1 Kent Terrace

Tickets are $15 

Visit  or call (04)802 4175to book 

A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES cast (from left) Laura Thompson, Ariadne Baltazar, Patrick Tafa and Liam Hughes after their performance at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

Ambassador Review – The Atom Room

Circa Theatre; June 27, 2018
Review by Ben Shea, Wellington College

It is often the case with our cool little capital of Wellington we are so spoiled for choice by the abundance of culture that we miss the little gems which don’t come from an ‘Award winning Broadway season’ or ‘Straight off the West End’.  Philip Braithwaite’s new play The Atom Room is one such production which should by no means be missed. From the promotional material it seems like a Kiwi attempt to jump on the long departed dystopian train, but it’s more than a dystopian tale, or in fact a science-fiction one. For the most part it is in fact a love story, telling the story of a couple’s struggle to stay together while separated by 54.6 million kilometres of space and connected only by the wonders of the Atom Room. As Clare Waldron (Margret) touched on in the post show Q&A the story could take place anywhere, anytime, in any kind of long distance relationship. The Martian setting is merely another way of exploring a universally applicable idea.

The small cast all deliver, the dynamic between Sarah (Harriet Prebble) and Danny (Taylor Hall) is strange and almost distorted which adds to the audience belief in the separation of the two lovers. We feel Danny’s longing to be with his wife again, this helps to add to the believability of Danny’s actions at his lowest point in the play. Prebble truly captures the feeling of being torn between career progression and wanting to be with her loving husband. Sarah’s boss, Margret helps to drive the show forward, she is the catalyst which drives the story forward, she also provides some of the funnier moments in the story. Overall it is a very well-acted production with the small cast all feeling important and contributing only what is necessary to the story without overstuffing the show.    

The play deals with a variety of themes, from the haunting future of Wellington as climate change begins to take effect, to whether our technology driven lives are destroying the power of true love. It even briefly discusses the death of so called “soft skills”, or non-technological/scientific talents. It is the kind of play which makes you think but is not dependent on this to be successful. It is a love story which raises questions about humanity and where we (particularly in NZ) are going.

I think it was the fusion of the show with the music of New Zealand electronic band Minuit, which gave the show it’s unique feel. In the small space of Circa Two, the music soars and lifts the show to an almost cinematic level of engagement. Using three large LED screens, the simplistic set is transformed from apocalyptic Wellington, to a rare hill where the air is breathable, to the titular atom room and to various other locations in between. I was sceptical as I came into the theatre, having had bad experiences with AV in the past but the tech more than delivered. It was a welcome addition to a show which lifted the standards that our stage technologies should reach.

My only criticism of The Atom Room is the pre-show VR experience which feels slightly tacky and really doesn’t contribute anything to the show itself. Otherwise this production was a delight from start to finish and I would fully recommend anybody to do experience a wonderful and thought provoking night at the theatre.


Mid-tour catch up with the ACOTH cast

The cast of Young and Hungry’s A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES have been touring around schools across New Zealand, from Dunedin in the south all the way up to Kaitaia, before heading back down to Wellington for public performances at BATS Theatre. Along the way they have performed to thousands of students, who each take away something different from the show.

We caught up with the cast and asked them about the tour so far:  

  1.  What has been the best feedback you’ve had from students?

Pat: For me it’s their big laughter. I can tell they’re enjoying the show. Also students who are just keen on advice and open to it as well.

Laura: We overheard some students in Nelson saying that the show had completely changed their idea of what theatre is, which is so exciting!

Liam:  Probably the best feedback is a hi-five from one of the “cool kids” who at first don’t seem interested but by the end are fully engaged.

  1. Favourite moment/ highlight of the tour so far? 

Pat: Seeing the beautiful South Island! 

Laura: I’ve been blown away by how engaged the students have been with the show. I didn’t know how they’d respond to live theatre – I wondered if they’d lose interest or find it a bit strange because it’s different from a lot of the entertainment they usually consume. But all of the students have been so invested, which has been so rewarding and which I am very grateful for!

Liam: The highlight of the tour for me has been seeing parts of the country that I have never seen before. I’m moving overseas in September so it’s a nice send off to tour around our backyard. 

  1. Low point of the tour?

Pat: Schools cancelling shows. Booo!

Laura: We’ve had a few schools that have had to cancel, which has been disappointing. The show is definitely strongest when we’re performing consistently and working with students almost every day, so too many days off can actually be a bit disorienting!

Liam:  The low point for me is when a bunch of schools cancelled for whatever reason (mainly due to mock exams I imagine) and we were left with a lot of free time in a place where there wasn’t much to do. 

  1. What message from A Country of Two Halves resonates with the students?

Pat: I think we give them an insight into different lifestyles and perspectives through the characters and their stories.

Laura: I think the students really take away from our show that theatre should and can be for everyone. Our show doesn’t have lavish props or sets, and we’re working in school halls, so I think there’s a real element of, hey, I could do this! We’re also sharing New Zealand stories from a diverse range of voices, which again encourages the students to dream about their own stories being told. I think it’s helped them to see theatre as something that is accessible and relevant.

Liam:  A message that resonates the most seems to be that everyone has demons and that no one is perfect. The show really highlights different perspectives throughout New Zealand and allows the kids to empathise with a whole range of people and cultures without a sense of being “taught” or spoken down to. It’s up to them what they take from the show, and I think that’s the most important thing. 

Auckland public performance of A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES

Tickets are on sale now for the Auckland public performance of our touring show A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES. 

Sunday, June 17th | 4PM

TAPAC (The Auckland Performing Arts Centre) | 100 Motions Road, Western Springs, Auckland

Tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults. 

Visit to book 

Don’t miss the chance to see our fabulous cast of Ariadne Baltazar, Laura Thompson, Liam Hughes and Patrick Tafa in action. 

Directed by Patrick Davies, A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES consists of extracts from New Zealand plays that help us understand how the ‘other half’ live: whether it be the haves and the have nots, rural and city, or privileged and un-empowered.

This 45-minute bare bones programme of New Zealand theatre (followed by a five-minute Q&A) can open discussion about the misunderstandings that keep us divided and what brings us together.

The show includes extracts from Wednesday to Come (Renée), Ka Shue (Letters Home) (Lynda Chanwai-Earle), Urban Hymns (Mīria George), Broken River (Ralph McCubbin Howell), The Debate (Riwia Brown), Revenge of the Amazons (Jean Betts), Sham (Jess Sayer), and The Tutor (Dave Armstrong).



Cast of A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES, from left, Ariadne Baltazar, Laura Thompson, Liam Hughes, and Patrick Tafa.

Four talented actors will be touring to schools across New Zealand with the Young and Hungry National Schools Tour.

Ariadne Baltazar, Laura Thompson, Patrick Tafa, and Liam Hughes make up the cast for A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES, and started rehearsals this week in Wellington.

Director Patrick Davies said each actor brought something unique to the table and an openness with their acting style which suited all of the eight play extracts.

“I’m thrilled to be directing the Y&H Tour. It’s an exciting opportunity to rake through the rich history of New Zealand playwrights in presenting polarised aspects of our culture.”

The tour runs in the second term from May 15 to July 7, 2018. If you would like to have these actors perform at your school, check out the tour details here.


Laura Thompson grew up in Titirangi, West Auckland, and is of Ngāi Tahu descent. Laura completed a Bachelor of Performing Arts at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and upon graduating spent 16 months on Shortland Street playing the villainous Dr Victoria Anderton. Since then she has continued to work in television and on a number of short films. Laura is also an educator for Rape Prevention Education, teaching high school students about consent and promoting healthy relationships. In her spare time, Laura loves writing, kickboxing and getting outdoors.

Liam Hughes is a recent graduate of Unitec’s Performing and Screen Arts Bachelor Course and an actor at Auckland Actors. He has always been into acting since he was little, but it wasn’t until he went to Northcote College and joined the Drama Class that he knew he was obsessed. Liam took part in the 2013 Young and Hungry Festival at The Basement Theatre, has acted in a number of web series and is currently on your screens in an ad for a ‘finger-lick’in-good’ product.

Ariadne Baltazar began seriously pursuing acting as a career in Yr 11 at Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt. She participated in the O’Shea Shield, school productions and community productions such as Jim Moriarty’s The Battalion in collaboration with Te Rakau during her final year. At the end of Yr 13, she was awarded the Juliet Howard Cup for Drama and went on to study at Toi Whakaari: NZ School of Drama in Wellington, and graduated with a Bachelor for Performing Arts: Acting. Named after the Greek princess who became a goddess, Ariadne (pronounced Aryadeen – like Aria and Dean together), or Ari as she goes by these days, has been learning Korean for 2 years which led her to become an ‘Army’: an avid fan of the trending South Korean boy-band BTS.

Patrick Tafa first gave acting a go in high school. After gaining lots of laughs and positive reactions from the audience during his first performance, he knew that’s what he wanted to do. Hailing from Onehunga in Auckland, Pat joined Massive Theatre Company at 16-years-old when his mum enrolled him for an acting workshop, he absolutely loved it and has been with the company ever since. Last year, he got a taste of touring life when he went on the road with the company’s devised work The Wholehearted. You may recognise Pat as Falani from Westside, the prequel series to Outrageous Fortune, which he has just finished filming the fourth season.

AUDITIONS: EnsembleImpact National Schools Tour


Young and Hungry is looking for four up-and-coming professional actors for the 2018 EnsembleImpact National Schools Tour, A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES.

Directed by Patrick Davies, A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES features features scenes exploring the wide range of conflicting and opposing opinions, ethnicities, politics, social levels and ages of the wonderful characters who populate NZ playwrights’ plays.  A COUNTRY OF TWO HALVES can open discussion about the misunderstandings that keep us divided and what brings us together.

We are looking for four actors with just as wide a range of diversities to bring this to life. You will be open, talented (whether from training or experience), able to hold a tune (if not sing brilliantly), able to bring your own style of physical exuberance to the production. Be strong in your own opinion but also able to create a safe and supportive team spirit.

See The Big Idea for details and how to apply.