Asian Playwrights Lab (2018-Present)

The Asian Playwrights Lab (APL) was born to create a platform to discover, resource and nurture new and emerging Asian writers by building a pathway for the staging of brand new original Asian theatrical works. This project is made with the support of Auckland Theatre Company.

TEA (2018)

Co-produced with Auckland Arts Festival, TEA was a new work by local Sri Lankan writer/director Ahi Karunaharan. Selected by Carla Von Zon for the RAW Reading programme as part of Auckland Arts Festival 2016, TEA is a multi-narrative epic drama set in Sri Lanka that spans across different eras. It’s an exploration of how tea, the most consumed beverage in the world and the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. The story is told in a nonlinear sequence, jumping back and forth in time.

A ground-breaking and critically acclaimed piece of local Asian theatre, TEA opened to a sell-out season at Auckland Arts Festival 2018 and featured for the first time a fully professional local South Asian cast and a pan Asian production and design team.

︎NZ Herald Review
︎Theatre Scenes Review
︎RNZ Article

Call of the Sparrow (2016)

Co-presented by Oryza, Call of the Sparrows was the first original work by Proudly Asian Theatre (PAT) (formerly, Pretty Asian Theatre). As part of our efforts to nurture the growth and development of more new local Asian storytelling, Oryza executive produced as well as provided mentorship and structural support on this project helping kickstart Auckland’s newest fledgling Asian theatre company.

Based on intimate family stories uncovered by Chinese-Pakeha writer Chye-Ling Huang and Filipino-born director James Roque – PAT Co-Founders – Call of the Sparrows draws audiences into the surreal world of The Village where old world and new world values, identities and passions collide.

Influenced by the mood, style and architecture of Chinese and South-East Asian cultures, Call of the Sparrows is Proudly Asian Theatre’s debut season of an original stage production that came to life as a ten minute entry in 2015 at Short+Sweet Auckland where the company won the Best Independent Company Award.

Hilarious, gruesome and other-worldly, these personal stories are all presented as true. But passed so far down the generations, the line between reality and magic begins to blur, especially when viewed through the lens and lives of modern-day Asian New Zealanders.
In the tiny mountain community of The Village, gossip is the currency and tradition is everything. As an outsider, Little Sparrow, arrives to find a world driven by superstition and dark histories.

To survive crooked peddlers, invisible spirits and a mother-in-law with a hidden agenda, she’s got to learn to fly with the flock. Caught in the middle of an uprising, Little Sparrow is forced to make a choice that alters the course of her destiny and the lives of others.

Featuring in Call of the Sparrows is an energetic cast of talented Asian actors all under 30s:

Chye-Ling Huang
Alice Canton
Amanda Grace Leo
Ravi Gurunathan
Sarah Nessia
Nikita Tu-Bryant

︎NZ Herald Review
︎Theatreview Review

The Mooncake and the Kumara (2015)

Following on from the positive response and interest The Mooncake and the Kumara received at its season at Short+Sweet Festival 2012, Oryza continued to collaborate with writer Mei-Lin in presenting the story as a full-length piece. Oryza came on board as producers for the play which went through a development season and regional reading showcases before being picked up and programmed in Auckland Arts Festival 2015. Producer, Sums Selvarajan worked with Auckland Arts Festival as the Line Producer for the production, which saw a completely sold-out season at Q’s Loft during the Festival.

The Mooncake and the Kumara has been praised for its uniquely Kiwi-Asian story - and the first New Zealand crafted production to be performed in English, Cantonese, and Te Reo Māori. Oryza is proud to have worked with the Auckland Arts Festival team and Mei-Lin Hansen to deliver a full-length production to Kiwi audiences and are committed to continuing to do so.

Following on from this, Oryza worked in partnership with Dolina Wehipeihana (Betsy and Mana) as co-producers of the touring season of The Mooncake and the Kumara as part of PANNZ Touring Agency to a sell-out touring season around Aotearoa. This was followed with a second sell out national tour the following year.

︎NZ Herald Review
︎Theatre Scenes Review
︎Theatreview Review
︎13th Floor Review

Asian Invasion: Plays from the Other Side of Aotearoa (2014)

A co-presentation with Ensemble Impact, this was a work that featured four young professional Asian actors - Benjamin Teh, Chye-Ling Huang, Mayen Mehta and Nikita Tu-Bryant. Directed by Kerryn Palmer, it wove together a collection of dynamic excerpts from ten contemporary New Zealand plays highlighted the relations between Asian, Māori, Pasifika and Pakeha New Zealanders.

Works included were those that approached the subject of being Asian in Aotearoa, including:

Robot vs Ninja – by Benjamin Teh 

The nature of love and illusions is approached in an original and entertaining manner in Robot vs Ninja. Who do we love? And why? What do we expect from each other? Meet Audrey the Robot and her boyfriend, the Ninja.

Fire Mountain (Foh Sarn) – by Lynda Chanwai-Earle

Set in contemporary Auckland the play focusses on the life of a young Korean university student and explores the uneasy relationship between the Asian community and New Zealand society through the eyes of a TV film crew eager to dig up dirt on Asian crime.

Chopstick #1 – by Jo Holsted & Michelle Ang

A play for anyone who can use chopsticks. We took one actor and turned her into a Samoan teenager, a fifth-generation greengrocer, a Chinese grandmother, and a white guy. It's an exploration into being Asian. Into being a New Zealander. A woman. A man. An Asian-New-Zealander-Man-Woman. And anyone in between. With no stereotypes. Just kidding, there are heaps. But we really, really thought about it.

FAAB – by Renee Laing

It’s not a play about rugby, but more a play that ‘contains’ rubgy. It’s about two boys growing up and their friendship. One’s a new immigrant who’s still deciding where his loyalties lie – the other, also from an immigrant family, who’s keen to show off this true colours (if only he can work them out).

Two Fish ’n’ A Scoop – by Carl Nixon

Jason comes to work in the fish and chip shop owned by Mr Chan. Ignoring his wishes, Mr Chan’s feisty daughter Rhea and Jason begin a romance, as they both serve up the greasies. It doesn’t take long, however, before some disquieting home truths are revealed.

︎Theatreview Review

Yellow Brides – by Vincent O’Sullivan

A contemporary New Zealand tragedy with its eye on our relationship to Asia and big business, Yellow Brides is a welcome return to the stage for this outstanding and versatile writer whose previous plays include Shuriken, Billy and Casement. Yellow Brides is a powerful work giving the Medea story a contemporary setting.

Businessman Jason's Asian bride Queenie has much from her own culture to offer relatives and friends in her new home of New Zealand. What have they got in return to offer Queenie?

Taro King – by Vela Manusaute

Taro King is set in a local supermarket in South Auckland, prized as being the supermarket with the highest turnover in taro sales.In 2002, the Fijian coup, led by George Speight, and the ban on all trading between Fiji and New Zealand had a major effect on the flow of taro coming into the port of Auckland. To the locals of Otara this sudden shortage of taro was harsh; however none felt the severity of the situation more so than the employees at Taro King supermarket, whose livelihood was unexpectedly put at risk.

Chopstick #2 – by Jo Holsted & Michelle Ang

Neang Neak’s Legacy – by Sarita Keo Kossamak So

Having escaped from the Khmer Rouge regime in their homeland Cambodia, husband Veasna and wife Chantrea, find themselves in Wellington. A decade after their arrival, they are confronted by the ghosts of their past. A story of redemption, NEANG NEAK’S LEGACY asks how do you bury your ghosts?

The Exchange – by Lauren Jackson

It is the year 1994. Five NZ teenagers are on an exchange year in Germany, a nation in the throes of reunification. Exchange is a funny, moving kiwi quest for personal discovery. The exchange students transform from child to adult as they navigate a new culture and discover what it means to be a New Zealander.

Krishnan's Diary – by Jacob Rajan & Justin Lewis

Gobi and Zina Krishnan have come to New Zealand in search of a better life for themselves and their child. They work hard and keep their dreams stacked on the shelves of their struggling business. Two New Zealand cliches about Indians - the Taj Mahal and the corner dairy - are fused into an enchanting love story.

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