Tawata Productions: “Good People, Focus, and Vision”

Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27 marks the return to Native Earth’s annual development festival for the international Indigenous company, Tawata Productions. From Aotearoa New Zealand, co-founders Hone Kouka and Miria George, along with fellow artist Jamie McCaskill, join Algonquin artist Yvette Nolan for an international collaboration.

Hone Kouka
Hone Kouka

Hone Kouka (Ngati Porou, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Kahungunu) is an acclaimed Maori writer, winner of the Bruce Mason Award and multiple Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. He and Miria George (Te Arawa, Ngati Awa; Rarotonga, Atiu) founded Tawata Productions in 2004, where they develop and produce new work from Aotearoa New Zealand, presenting a diverse Indigenous vision for the world beyond. He is proud to give Weesageechak audiences the chance to see a “global Indigenous view.”

Miria George
Miria George

George is a poet, and writer for theatre, radio and television, and an award-winning playwright, whose work has been performed at festivals and theatres New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the United Kingdom. Being a part of a festival with Indigenous artists, and Indigenous stories is what drives her to want to participate in Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27.

Jamie McCaskill
Jamie McCaskill

Joining George and Kouka, is Jamie McCaskill (Ngati Tamatera/Ngati Rangi/Nga Puhi), a graduate from UCOL Theatre School, writer, actor, musician and producer and the recipient of the Bruce Mason Award for NZ Emerging Playwright of the Year 2013. McCaskill was last in Toronto for Planet IndigenUS in 2009 with He Reo Aroha, co-written with George.

For this festival, the three artists are collaborating with Nolan, on a piece called Waka/Ciimaan, which are the Maori and Anishinaabemowin words for canoe. “We recognize that water – wai in Māori, nibi in Anishinaabemowin – is a driving force in both our creation stories and ultimately the connecting link between all of humanity.”

Once the group departs from Weesageechak Begins to Dance 27, they will begin working on independent projects. McCaskill will get right back to work performing in a play and writing about “raw rural men.” Kouka’s feature film Born To Dance recently completed shooting and, next up is his feature Puawai’s Flowers, which is currently in development. Meanwhile George is working tirelessly at completing her latest script, The Vultures. 


Some bits and bobs about
Miri George, Hone Kouka & Jamie McCaskill

Who is one of your favorite writers/playwrights?
MG: Junot Diaz
MK: Hone Tuwhare

Describe your ideal writing environment.
JC: With good people, focus, and vision.

What was your first job in theatre?
MG: As a writer of my own work.
JC: As an actor in Theatre & Education.
MK: Same as Jamie.

What ability would you like to steal from another artist?
MG: I would fly.
JC: I would like to be able to dance.

What are you reading right now?
JC: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
MK: A biography on the life of French poet Arthur Rimbaud
MG: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
ALL: Weetabix, the national cereal of New Zealand.

Thanks Miri, Hune, & Jamie!


Read about co-creator Yvette Nolan

You can catch Waka/Ciimaan on Thursday, Nov 20th @ 7:30pm.
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