Approaching UPU I felt a comfort in attending this performance. I don’t know if it was due to the description that mentioned the moana and people of Oceania or just the appreciation I have for poetry and live performance. The ocean has always been my favourite place so there were just so many elements to this that I felt I would enjoy.

The show was packed out with people and there were even seats amongst the performance area. I don’t really know what they wanted to achieve with that, whether it was direct interaction to the crowd or just to show how immersive this experience really was, physically and mentally. UPU as a whole was quite an emotional roller coaster for me personally. There were so many different levels. Being Maori (Ngapuhi, Ngati Rangi) & Pakeha descent myself there were a lot of poems that you could really relate too. Some also just really made me think about things in my life where I have experienced similar things and how I could possibly approach things differently.This was also the first time I’ve seen this discussion being had, so eloquently, in a theatre setting.
But it wasn’t all serious. Some of it was done in quite a fun and playful way. Don’t even get me started on the ‘SPAM’ segment. The cast were so incredible in the way that they portrayed the necessary emotions but also the attitudes they gave with each performance. They also all transitioned really well between each poem. With the performance it really was back to back, there wasn’t time for them to gather their thoughts etc. So to be able to jump between all the different topics in each poem without getting too overwhelmed was amazing and I really have to applaud them for that. The whole cast was also clearly of Pacific and/or Maori descent and seeing them performed these poems was like having someone who truly knows these experiences, speaking for us, rather than others who think they know.

This may sound as though I am saying only people of certain cultures will understand & appreciate this and I don’t think that is true. I think we just understand & feel it a lot more. But I also think people could relate this to their own lives and experiences in so many ways. I did find it interesting in observing how the audience reacted to a lot of the performances. Some were unsure why some parts were funny or why the crowd was snapping along and agreeing to what was being said. But everyone approaches these things differently. 

I believe this really is a performance everybody should see and if I could buy lots of tickets to get others to see it I would. For example, I went with a workmate of mine and we both though that we would love for people at our workplace to see this. It provides an insight into many topics we all struggle to understand today. I think it is quite educational in regards to culture as an art form and the people.

There is an accompanying program which I was so happy about as it gave me a lot of information I wanted such as the poems, cast and how the show came to be.

OVERALL: It is a powerful, emotional and confrontational performance that I think should be seen by all!

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