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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.