10 May 2012

Level of te reo in Shakespeare challenges even experts

10:01 am on 10 May 2012

An actor in the Maori adaptation of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida says the classical variation of te reo used in the performance provided a challenge for even some of the most fluent speakers of Maori.

Rawiri Paratene is on tour with the Ngakau Toa theatre company which launched the Globe to Globe festival in London last month.

Mr Paratene says credit must go to Te Haumihiata Mason of Ngai Tuhoe who interpreted the play and set it firmly in the Maori world.

She included a lot of archaic terms, he says, which tested even some of the most proficient speakers of Maori.

Mr Paratene says it was difficult for people of the calibre of Waihoroi Shortland, who starred in the Maori adaptation of The Merchant of Venice about 10 years ago, and Scotty Morrison, who also performed in that play, to come to grips with the level of language used.

He says Te Haumihiata Mason honoured William Shakespeare by really going for the depth in using a classical style of te reo, which sparked plenty of debate.

Rawiri Paratene, of Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi descent, says the performances received rave reviews and the theatre company was a smash hit with the international audience who gave stomped and applauded in approval and gave standing ovations.

The Globe to Globe festival runs until 27 July, leading up to the opening of the Olympics in London.