May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

First Maori to be accepted to International Theatre school in Paris

3 min read

Kei nga pukenga, kei nga kaiako, kei nga puna o te ki, otira kei te Whare Wananga o Waikato whanui, tenei te mihi, tenei te mihi, tenei te mihi.

Waikato University Maori and Theatre Studies graduate Moko Smith has been accepted to study at the Jacques Lecoq international theatre school in Paris.

The 23-year-old, who also studied French at Waikato, went to France for a year to improve his language and cement what he had learnt at Waikato. After landing a position with Thtre du Soleil in Paris, where he worked for a year, he decided to apply for the international school.

Moko Smith is the first Maori and 13th New Zealander to be accepted to study at the Jacques Lecoq international theatre school in Paris.Smith was accepted into Lecoq after submitting his CV, but his first trimester there will be a form of trial period.

The teachers assess your suitability for continuing the course and students can decide whether this form of physical theatre training is for them. The training is based on an exploration and refinement of movement, and has a large focus on improvisation and devising as well.

Having already had a substantial taste of physical theatre at Thtre du Soleil, Smith felt the need to delve further into theatre, to take on training to gain the tools, the skills and the space to develop his craft as an actor and director.

It will also give me the chance to explore Maori material and begin an exploration of what could be a Maori theatre style. I see a huge wealth of richness in our culture that could lend itself so well to theatre; the stylised movements of whaik?rero and haka, the metaphoric and multilayered language of whaik?rero, the mythology surrounding the gods, the use of taonga puoro (Maori traditional instruments) and karetao (Maori puppets) all hold within themselves a lot of potential, and I hope to use my training at Lecoq to explore this.

Smiths course will last two years, the French equivalent of a masters degree in performing arts, he says. Hes the 13th New Zealand and first Maori to study at Lecoq and has been applying for a variety of scholarships to cover his study fees and living expenses, including the AMP Do Your Thing Scholarship,, an Arts Waikato scholarship and iwi grants.

Last year I lived in a theatre for three months, in the washing machine room, so you never know what Paris can throw at you.

Thtre du Soleil have offered him a position to work on set as a technician in their latest creation, Les Naufrags du Fol Espoir.

During the northern summer, Smith has been travelling to different parts of Europe to learn more about his craft. He performed in a site specific performance festival in Copenhagen, and took a movement class with a prominent Nordic performance artist.

The Scandinavians are a very modern bunch, he says. The people Ive been working with have been progressive and actively reconsider boundaries and established forms. These are qualities that I want to feed into theatre and especially Maori art. Working with these different artists has made me more aware of the importance of redeveloping and reconsidering given art forms.

Smith will begin his studies at the Lecoq School in October 2010.

Kia ora to Waikato University for this panui.

1 thought on “First Maori to be accepted to International Theatre school in Paris

  1. Congratulations to this young man for loving his people and craft enough to see the potential sense in fusing them together! I cannot wait to see where his journey takes him! Brava!

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