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Monday 08 November 2010

Actor/Dancer looking for Mate and Lover

Posted in: Performance
By Jacqui Stanford - 25th August 2010

Paora Taurima and Ronald T Nelson (background) - picture by Gareth Watkins
Wellington director Ronald Trifero Nelson is on a quest to find the perfect man. But it's not the standard kind of hook-up. He's looking for a partner to take the stage alongside performer Paora Taurima for a new production of Mates and Lovers.

The play, based Chris Brickell's award-winning book, Mates and Lovers, A History of Gay New Zealand will have its Auckland premiere in November, following its sellout season in Wellington's BATS Theatre last September.

Mates and Lovers begins and ends with the 'bookends' of two young men playing on a windy New Zealand beach. Their adolescent handstands and adagio bits take on more and more meaning as the men time travel through 250 years.

Between these bookends, the performance moves chronologically from pre-colonial times to the 21st century in a rollercoaster history ride with over two dozen scenes and 38 characters.

The Auckland season has been reworked and rewritten along with new choreography by Tai Royal and a stunning and evocative new score by Samuel Holloway.

Two new actors will bring the play back to life as part of the fresh approach. Nelson has already found the first half of the cast in Paora Taurima, an experienced professional dancer who has worked with the likes of Mary Jane O'Reilly and Michael Parmenter. He also has solid acting experience, working with Auckland Theatre Company in Sweet Charity and playing Hemi on TVNZ's Rude Awakenings.

Taurima says when the opportunity arose he was immediately passionate about the idea of being Mates and Lovers, a passion which only grew when he read the script. It will be his first 'gay' show, well, aside from being a back-up dancer for a drag queen.

Nelson clearly sees Taurima as a score for the production. "It was very important that we find a Maori guy for this show. We felt like we needed that element and idea … I knew that was going to be the hardest get – and I needed a dancer. So imagine trying to find a Maori, dancer/ actor, say in his mid-30s who happened to be a homo. Obviously I can't cast around sexual orientation, but that had to be the icing on the cake. So I've found that guy!"

Taurima can't wait for his perfect partner and Nelson is pretty open-minded in his quest - the only vital must-haves are solid dance and acting training and experience. He says ideally the performer would also be 'tallish', but age and skin colour are not so important.

The show is very gay and very sexy and while it's not gratuitous, there is simulated sex onstage and there is a nude bath scene, something Nelson says the performers obviously have to be comfortable with.

"When I hired [Taurima] I said 'this is a way gay show and are you really, really out or are you way out? As in if your mum and dad come and see this show are they going to be upset or embarrassed, or whatever?' He assured me that he was way out. As out as you could possibly be."

Taurima has never been naked onstage before but isn't intimidated, he's just excited.

The second performer will also need to be versatile. "It's a real actor's play," says Nelson. "You're playing everybody from a 16-year-old hitchhiker to a 75-year-old guy. It's just a boatload of different kinds of characters."

Nelson says rehearsals commence in Wellington on 7 October. He says it's a professional show that pays professional wages, while accommodation during rehearsals in Wellington could be worked out.

Anyone who feels they have the goods to be Paora Taurima's perfect match can contact Ronald T Nelson at or on 021 41 70 41.

People who want to follow the show's developments can become a"FAANZ Fan" to learn about tickets, deals and future gigs.

Mates and Lovers will be at Auckland theatre The Basement from 17-28 November.

Jacqui Stanford - 25th August 2010

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