Immigrant’s search for home at heart of show

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Robyn Paterson performs in The South Afreakins. Photo: Supplied

A CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED show about immigration and the search for home will be performed this week during the Southland Arts Festival.

Written and performed by Robyn Paterson, The South Afreakins tells the story of Helene and Gordon, and their search to find in a new country.

“Essentially, it’s a monologue performed as a duologue – so I play my mum and I play my dad.

“It’s the story of our emigration from South Africa to New Zealand.”

Paterson said her family moved to New Zealand about 26 years ago, when she was only 6-years-old.

She said the focus of the show was very much on immigration and displacement.

“And kind of the immigrant’s impossible search for home.

“Trying to figure out where home is – does it lie in places, or does it lie in people.”

Although the characters are based on her parents, Paterson said she took a of creative licence in creating the show.

To portray them both on stage, she wears black and shifts her posture and voice to signal the change between characters.

“I…will be speaking as one character one way, then turn and become the other character in reply. I think I switch about 350 times in the show.”

Paterson performed a sell-out season of the show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 and the reaction was hugely positive.

She performed 28 shows back-to-back, and expats from many different countries would wait to talk to her after the show.

Paterson said the story could resonate in many ways – whether someone had moved to a new country, moved towns, or had left home to go to university.

“It’s quite nice to have those kinds of reactions, and I think it’s because the show can relate to people.

“That  feeling of very much feeling like you don’t fit in, and the hardship of trying not to look back, and trying to just keep moving forward.”

Paterson said she had also written a very loose sequel to the show, The South Afreakins: The Afreakin’ Family, in which she plays four characters.

The South Afreakins, Repertory House, Wednesday, May 8, and Thursday, May 9. Book through TicketDirect.

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