Legacy Project made an exciting return this year as part of Auckland Pride Festival, showcasing 6 short theatre pieces by the emerging queer artists in Tāmaki Makaurau. Each of these are in their own way bold, challenging, and exciting.
Three depicts three men in a polyamorous relationship during a camping trip. It is a fresh and vibrant composition to start off the show with. However, the challenges of this relationship seem to have become resolved before it was fully established, and I do wish to see a more in depth exploration of such challenges. On a different note, the three contrasting personalities were established successfully and held well by Andrey Sukhomlinov, Fabian MacGregor & Zak Enayat.
Vision of Desire is a sci-fi piece that explores authoritarian governance, surveillance and ageing within the overarching theme of sexuality. Michael (played by Zach Robinson) has less than a month to find his soulmate before he turns 30. Aatir Zaidi’s bold vision makes it a challenging script to manage, but was carried out effectively with great performances. The minimal set also worked in its favour.
What stood out to me most about Clean Up in Aisle 3 is the stage direction, which transformed two monologues with poetic interactions. A somewhat generic and universal break-up story is elevated with engaging performances and creative compositions, the juxtaposition of past and present, memory and reality created some powerful moments.
Whole on the other hand, displays two monologues in parallel. Two strangers speaks about their vulnerability, anxiety and conflicts about sexuality. The writing is lyrical and emotional, which came together beautifully with impressive pacing and captivating delivery. A few nicely timed pauses really stretched out the impact of the performance.
The most memorable performance of the night for me goes to Kurt Utai-Laurenson in On the Experience of People Whose Life is Exactly Mine, the abstract and ambiguous monologue that explores sexuality poetically. Kurt’s breathtakingly powerful performance embodied the spirit of the writing; it is confusing, suffocating, exhausting all in the best way possible.
The night ended with Mud Maids, a to-the-point comedy piece about two friends trying to solve a HPV mystery. The dialogue is natural and funny, and the chemistry between Ava Diakhaby and Holly Hudson really sold the story. It is fast-paced and hilarious, ending the evening with energy and hysteric laughter.
My only criticism for the show as a whole is the missing conversation about gender identity. It is certain that the scope of one show is not expected to depict and represent every aspect of queerness, and its submission based format creates challenges for equal representations. But it is still a shame that Legacy Project 5 weighs heavily in cis male characters and writers. Out of the six stories, only two were written by female writers and feature female actors, and none explore gender identity and/or trans issues. The lack of conversation and representation about gender diversity does seem to leave a gap in the show.
Regardless, Legacy Project is an exciting showcase of a diverse and dynamic community of queer artists in Aotearoa. While we all fantasize about the day when queer stories and artists no longer need the specifically curated opportunities to exist comfortably in the world; as of now in our what seems to be an eternally imperfect world, Legacy Project will remain an exciting and most of all vital opportunity for queer creatives to take risks, tell stories, and continue to destabilise our reality.
Legacy Project 5 runs from 8 – 16 February at Q Theatre Loft. Get your tickets from the Q Theatre website.