The bros and the bard

By Tina Wickliffe

The third season of Shakespeare at the Pop-Up Globe theatre in Auckland features a bunch of bros smashing it as Scottish king slayers, merchants and reo Māori speaking fairies. 

Matu Ngaropo has been tackling Shakespearean roles since high school. 

He’s currently playing Angelo in A Comedy of Errors and MacDuff in MacBeth.   It's a physically demanding role, requiring hours of grueling weaponry training- it takes nine hours to perfect a one minute battle sequence for stunned theatre goers.

“Because there’s so much blood in the work and because it’s so gory...there’s a lot of wai that’s used backstage.  We can sense when the energies might drop or feel a bit taumaha because of the weight of the mahi.  I feel pretty safe with my brothers and sisters in arms,” says Ngaropo.

Then there’s the reo Māori speaking fairies in the romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   Reuben Butler is stealing scenes, and hearts, as the taiaha-wielding fairy, Puck. 

The northern native was no fan of Shakespeare at school.

“I would say I respected him, but in terms of getting in to it, yeah, I wasn’t someone that got into it, mainly cos I couldn’t understand it!” says Butler.  

Butler is joined by Jason Te Kare (Oberon) and Edward Peni (Titania).

The reo translation of their text was provided by veteran Māori journalist Pierre Lyndon.

Edward Peni, who is of Samoan descent, is relishing the opportunity to dive into Shakespeare in Māori. 

“I can say that I’m really enjoying saying my lines with confidence and just sort of embracing the te reo that I’m learning,” he says.

The Pop-Up Globe is a replica of the second theatre Shakespeare’s company built in 1614.  It’s an immersive experience that transports audiences to another era, while managing to be relatable and very Kiwi. 

Te Kare says that’s the beauty of Shakespeare.