The South Afreakins

22 August 2018

Robyn Paterson spoke personably and eloquently with Don on Central FM radio this morning about her show The South Afreakins, which she will be performing 16 October (Waipawa) and 17 October (Spiegeltent) at Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival.

This is going to be a fantastic show, by all accounts.

As Robyn has explained previously, The South Afreakins is both heartbreaking and hilarious: "a dark comedy about the lengths we go to in order to find our identity, the limits of what we would give up for the one we love most and the investments we are forced to make to find out where home actually is."

When we were putting the Festival Programme together, Robyn generously answered some of our questions about what we could expect and the connections she'll be drawing for our audiences. You can read these below.

What will we experience  as a result of seeing this show?

"Many of our audiences appreciate the way the show touches on topics such as displacement and loss with a light-hearted but honest approach. And many have also felt that the subject matter has resonated with them deeply, regardless of their country of origin, as at one point or another in everybody's life we are faced with making difficult choices for a 'better tomorrow'. In this case, it means leaving everything you know behind (culture, language, friends, and memories) to start again in an alien place because circumstances (whether its crime, or political unrest, etc) dictate so.

Audiences will laugh, but they will also feel an emotional connection to the subject matter and realise they are not alone.

While the comical nature of the show means it does really well with younger audiences, it appeals particularly to older generations (50 and over), as it deals with retirement and marital life, and the idea of 'growing old together'."

What is the wider context or relevance of this show for a New Zealand audience?

"New Zealand and South Africa have a long-standing history; since the fall of the apartheid in the 1990s, New Zealand has been the go-destination for South Africans seeking a better future, and it offers what South Africa unfortunately can't: safety, security, and peace of mind.

But NZ is also vastly different from SA in a cultural sense. The South Afreakins provides a bird's eye view into the experiences (good and bad) that all SA migrants have felt or gone through during their emigration, while at the same time introducing various New Zealand cultural references, which means it resonate with both countries.

It's a quid-pro-quo experience, in that it allows South Africans (and all people, in a general sense) to express their worries when confronted with the need to seek a better life in a different country (a subject matter all too real in these present times), and allows New Zealanders to better understand the premise of the generations that have now become known as 'South African New Zealanders'."

Hawke's Bay connections

Robyn Paterson has longstanding connections to Hawke's Bay. She says: "When my father was a rotary exchange student in the 1970s and visited New Zealand in the middle of the international controversy of the rugby tour and South Africa’s political unrest, one of his host families lived in the Hawke’s Bay. When we immigrated in 1994, we continued to visit the family together and holiday in the Hawke’s Bay. The Hawke’s Bay holds great memories for my family and especially for my father and almost became a point of refuge."

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