Healing maori through song and dance? Three case studies of recent New Zealand music theatre.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis investigates the way "healing" may be seen to be represented and enacted by three recent New Zealand music theatre productions: Once Were Warriors, the Musical-Drama; The Whale Rider, On Stage; and Footprints/Tapuwae, a bicultural opera. This thesis addresses the ways each of these music theatre productions can be seen to dramatise ideologically informed notions of Maori cultural health through the encounter of Maori performance practices with American and European music theatre forms. Because the original colonial encounter between Maori and Pakeha was a wounding process, it may be possible that in order to construct a theatrical meeting between the "colonised" Maori and the "colonial" non-Maori, "healing" is an essential element by which to foster an idea of the post-colonial, bicultural togetherness of the nation. In all three productions, Maori song and dance forms are incorporated into a distinctive form of western music theatre: the American musical; the international spectacle; Wagnerian opera. Wagner's attempts to regenerate German culture through his music dramas can be compared to Maori renaissance idea(l)s of cultural "healing" through a "return" to Maori myths, traditions and song and dance.