At the heart of this play is a very important slice of NZ history.
— Auckland Theatre Company Literacy Unit

In Transit is a New Zealand/African play that gives voice to former refugees and migrants as they transition from everyday lives in their African homelands, and the unnatural and often perilous journeys across continents and oceans to their new homes and new lives in Aotearoa.


Based on true stories collected by Wanjiku Kiarie Sanderson (now archived in the Oral History Collection, National Library, Wellington), In Transit presents the real-life experiences of African people living in Aotearoa NZ with a thought provoking theme of intergenerational conflicts between parents and the first generation of NZ-born young people, desperate to be recognized as New Zealanders; who see themselves as KIWIS, not Africans; and struggling to establish their own identities, while maintaining respect for their parents and the cultures they’ve left behind.


The play revolves around eight different characters of various backgrounds.  The ensemble: actors, musicians and dancers are from African, Pasifika, and Māori communities in Auckland and Wellington.


Importantly, the production presents a visual and vocal answer to the question, “What happens when African and Pacific cultures meet and fuse their theatre and performing arts traditions in a contemporary context?”


Justine Simei-Barton, Director, is an accomplished producer and director of theatre, films and television, and a long-time collaborator with performing artists of many ethnicities.  She brings to this production, a wealth of experience in intercultural performing arts in New Zealand and the Pacific region.


Justine says, “I always knew there were similarities and connections between African and Pacific traditional performing arts.  The challenge of fusing the two to create a new and unique platform with high artistic merit is one that I embrace whole-heartedly, and am very pleased with the outcome.”


In Transit, written by Wanjiku Kiarie Sanderson, is as a tribute to the late NZ actor, Martyn Sanderson, and his life-long involvement with African theatre, and with the African communities in Auckland and Wellington.  It was meant to be their next project after the successful production of Muntu in 2009, but Martyn passed away two days before Muntu opened.  Wanjiku has spent the last seven years bringing In Transit to the stage.


She says, “The tradition of telling stories comes very naturally to many Africans, but what amazed me in the interviews, was the generosity and warmth of the interviewees when relating some of their most horrific, as well as humorous experiences, and I knew that all New Zealanders would appreciate their stories as I do.”


In Transit opens 4 May and runs through 13 May at Mangere Arts Centre.

WHAT:  First ever Pasifika and African theatre production in New Zealand
WHEN:  4-13 May, 2017
WHERE:  Mangere Arts Centre, Bader Drive and Orly Avenue, Mangere 2022
For interviews and more information, please contact: Kubé Jones-Neill, Producer 021 0847 3590; Valeria Edwards, Media & Public Relations 021 775 652

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