Personal stories break down barriers in alumni theatre group

Introspect Theatre Company (supplied)


After finishing their studies at Massey, five friends missed the creativity they had been thriving off while studying – so they regrouped to form their own theatre company.

Kerris O’Donoghue , Liv Woodmass , Kezia Thompson, Regann Rees-Henry and Bekky Boyce originally became friends through various creative courses while studying for their Bachelor of Communication.

It was a simple message in the group chat suggesting they participate in the Wellington Fringe Festival that finally pushed them to form their own company, Introspect Theatre.

Their debut show, INTROSPECTION, consists of five characters set in a room untethered from time or place, to represent a phase in each of the characters’ lives. The audience watches each character come face-to-face with internal struggles and go on a journey to knock these barriers down before they can go through the door and proceed to the next phase in their lives.

The group began the devising process for INTROSPECTION in August of 2020 and have just wrapped up their three-day run at BATS theatre in Wellington.

Ms O’Donoghue says the process has been a roller-coaster with moments of pride and joy, as well as moments where they were very close to canning the show all together; “but that’s all part of the journey.

“Because INTROSPECTION told such personal and vulnerable stories, we’ve definitely felt a big sense of accomplishment by putting it out into the world.”

Art that shares stories of vulnerability

While all five of the group studied communications, their majors ranged from public relations to expressive arts and media studies.

Producer and actor Kerris O’Donoghue thanks Massey and their time here for building the group’s confidence in their abilities.

“It was the knowledge and skills we had gained through [Associate Professor] Elspeth Tilley’s theatre courses at Massey that gave us the confidence and belief that we were capable of creating our own shows from scratch.”

With some abstract elements, INTROSPECTION explores self-growth, self-acceptance and self-discovery, and sees the characters reach their destination with the help and support of those around them.

“We all share a love for art that tells stories from vulnerable places, and that gives Queer people like ourselves a platform to share their experiences and help others not feel so alone, so we knew that we’d be creating something quite personal from the very beginning.”

INTROSPECTION evolved from personal experiences, feelings and internalised issues they’ve each had to deal. The crew says at the very least they hope to deliver experiences that people can either relate to, or that enable audiences not to feel so alone in their struggles.

“Beyond that,” says Ms O’Donoghue “it has messages about accepting who you are, acknowledging your struggles and what has made you who you are today, doing what’s best for yourself in situations that don’t necessarily serve you - and doing that when the timing is right for you.”

 

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