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Debut director explores cultural and identity

Matthew Tso for Stuff.co.nz

 Photo: Ankita Singh

Photo: Ankita Singh

Grace director Nikita Tu-Bryant says the production explores a woman's grapple to reconcile different values from different parts of her life. The production also features Chye-Ling Huang and Marianne Infante.

Nikita Tu-Bryant's first foray into theatre directing started with a song.

Tide Waits for No Man: Grace comes five years after the Wellington based musician wrote and recorded a song about feelings she experienced following the death of a family member.

Tu-Bryant says the semi-autobiographical story explores cultural patriarchy and follows a Taiwanese-Kiwi, Grace, who grapples with her Yè-Ye's (Mandarin for grandfather) teachings in the face of her life in modern New Zealand.

While the story draws on distinctly Asian references, she believes it will strike a chord with a much wider audience.

People naturally discovered and adopted different values as their social circles expanded outside the family environment. Reconciling often conflicting sets of beliefs was not unique to any one set of people, Tu-Bryant said.

"It's a story about how we marry who we've become with where we've come from."

Tu-Bryant was relieved to be getting the production underway after years of writing and conceptualising the latest iteration of the story.

"Considering the time between the death of my family member and now ... with my music projects, I'm a real doer - I go out and do it straight away. 

 Photo: Hayden Weal

Photo: Hayden Weal


"I turned 30 this year and had been writing for four years. I just knew as every year passed, I'd get more anxious. [Like the title says] 'Tide waits for no man,' I had to do it ready or not - you can't be afraid."

Working with the Auckland-based Proudly Asian Theatre, the production is being performed at Bats Theatre in Wellington in December.

It is the first of what Tu-Bryant hopes will be five instalments chronicling the grandfather's personality though the experience of different members of his family.

The production is "non-verbal" and will rely on choreographed movement, and shadow and object puppetry set to a backdrop of Tu-Bryant's music.

She did not want language to be a barrier for her audience. She wanted people like her mother, for whom English was her second language, to be able to understand the story. 

Tu-Bryant will be performing alongside Proudly Asian Theatre co-founders Chye-Ling Huang and Marianne Infante.

 Tide Waits for No Man: Grace will be performed at Bats Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Mount Victoria, Wellington, from December 4-8. Tickets are available from the Bats website.