11 Feb 2018

Hobson Street Theatre Company: crowdfunding for Fringe

From Sunday Morning, 7:19 am on 11 February 2018

Auckland's Hobson Street Theatre Company, made up of people who have all at some point lived on the streets, is crowdfunding to take its latest play to Wellington's fringe festival.

Hobson Street Theatre Company: from left, co-founder and co-director Bronwyn Bent, and actors Shadow, Rawiri and Kelly (plays the te reo teacher, in The Race).

Hobson Street Theatre Company: from left, co-founder and co-director Bronwyn Bent, and actors Shadow, Rawiri and Kelly. Photo: Supplied

This year's production, The Race, will run in both the Auckland and Wellington festivals.

The company was created in 2010 by two long-time theatre producers, Sally Barnett and Bronwyn Bent, who took their idea to the Auckland City Mission.

Co-director of the new production, Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho, says performers come in to the company via the City Mission.

 Borni te Rongopai Tukiwaho, who is directing the Hobson Street Theatre Group's play The Race.

Borni te Rongopai Tukiwaho Photo: Supplied

"The word is put out ....and anyone interested in performing is invited to come along.

"The concept behind the theatre company is to allow a space for them to use the arts as an empowerment tool, for them to be able to communicate what types of stories they would like to be able to address," Tukiwaho says.

"Every so often someone will decide to create a character that has a basis in their own experience.

"They set up the premise themselves and we just guide them through the processes."

This season's play highlights racism towards homeless people, using humour to get its message across.

One of the lead actors, Shadow, who has been with the company since 2010, is a hugely engaging presence on stage, Tukiwaho says. "He's a very, very clever man. He's always there, he works really hard."

The company brings in writers to help members of the company create a play, and producers, directors and others from within and outside the company offer insights on directing and how a show is put together.

Tukiwaho says it's difficult to get support for the arts in general, and the Hobson Street Theatre Company has few financial resources.

It relies on funding platforms such as, Boosted, where it's raising about $3000 to send five actors and five production staff to Wellington.

The Race is playing at the Herald Theatre, Auckland, from 28 February to 3 March as part of Auckland Fringe, and Wellington's Bats Theatre, 19-21 March as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival.