Auckland City's homeless issue bought to the stage

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Auckland's Mahuika Theatre Company is bringing the issue of homelessness onto the stage, in their first show called Leilani. Director Pedro Ilgenfritz says the homeless have become the city's invisible society, but they're part of the landscape.

The plight of homelessness is being taken from the streets to the stage.

Director Pedro Ilgenfritz, "It's a hot issue isn't it, we don't feel really comfortable talking about that, it destroys certain discourses, and it's tabu.  We don't like thinking about our own people sleeping in cars, or not having a place to go.”

The main character Leilani is left heartbroken by her Māori boyfriend Junior, played by Aymee Karaitiana, who dumps her, leaving her homeless, friendless and pregnant.

Karaitiana says, “It could mean homeless as in, you don't know where you stand in the world, and finding your place whether it's, who is important to you, and who will support you at the end of the day.”

Mahuika Theatre Company was formed two years ago with the aim to bring more women into producing and performing about real issues, like Auckland housing shortage.

“It's alright if it is a small number of people, that's ok we can live with that, but suddenly it's a large number of people.  If you look at Te Puea marae, Māngere, and what happened there recently, and suddenly they gave shelter to a few people, and then  suddenly hundreds came, so it's something to just thinking,” says director Ilgenfritz.

Karaitiana says, “I think that's wonderful, and I think that's what everyone should do, like all the marae's, not even just marae's, everyone.”

Leilani debuts tomorrow night at Q Theatre on Queen Street until August 13.