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‘The Sun and the Wind’ is a theatrical reminder of loved ones’ grief

Mary Afemata, Te Rito Journalism cadet

The Sun and the Wind, starring Julie Edwards, reminds whānau about the grief and trauma that remains even after the loss of a loved one, in this case, the loss of a child.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

“There are all these twists and unanswered questions about what happens to our whanau years down the line with their grief,” says Edwards.

Driven by a Māori kaupapa, the play deals with mental illness and healing. Edwards says that this is Tainui Tukiwaho’s best script in her opinion with complex characters.

Edwards (Ngāti Whakaue and Ngāti Whare) says without giving too much of the story away, the play takes place in a world between a koro and kuia.

They are dealing with the loss of their son to suicide, and 21 years later, they are still dealing with the trauma and grief.

“They still celebrate their son’s birthday even though he has passed away,” says Edwards.

Edwards says of her character, “Since and before the trauma, she probably has you know, I don’t like using terms but borderline personality and you know, has kept the shame and the guilt with her.”

Rehearsals leading up to the show have been intense especially when the show is an hour of real time.

“There’s so much emotion that happens in that time.”

It’s a human story from a Maori lens and the cast are all Maori, she says.

“Through a Maori lens dealing with the fact that there’s ‘mate’ (sickness) in the room so the principles of anything that is tapu is dealt with in a really protective way with our tikanga.”

Edwards says there is an opportunity to speak if they want to because of the triggering content of the play.

“Our kaupapa around it is really safe… because of the content, we provide a watea, a whakawatea at the end just for people to release or keep us protected.”

In the play, the older couple have isolated themselves from their whanau because of their trauma.

“I’d like to reflect the fact that out there our whanau are really still suffering even though it’s years on, the repercussions of losing someone to maui, is yeah still relevant, we forget about them.”

The audience should expect to go on a realistic journey of what happens inside us, in a psychological thriller style.

“It’s really emotional, it’s really upsetting. There’s hope though. It provides a slice of reality which is usually hidden behind closed doors.”

Edwards who plays the character Keri, won the Best Actress award for her role at the Wellington Theatre Awards earlier this year.

Edwards says she did a lot of research about her character and draws inspiration from her friends.

“I’ve got three mates, wahine in our late fifties, who’ve all lost their sons to suicide.”

“I just felt really deeply about representing them and reflecting the turmoil and the trauma that they, years later still…”

She says people forget and the world goes on but it doesn’t leave the family of those affected by the loss.

“I just want to honour, for me, I can only for my character, from a mama’s point of view do the work that I know is true of reflecting who they are.”

Edwards says “The Sun and the Wind” is a reminder to the audience to remember that whanau who have lost someone are still grieving and suffering.

“I want them to come to the play… People forget, the world goes on, but it doesn’t leave them and I really want if anything whanau to see that.”

The Sun and the Wind ends at Q Theatre tonight.

Hero Image: The Sun and the Wind is a Maori theatre play showing at Auckland's Q Theatre. The themes are emotional and upsetting but there is also hope, says actor Julie Edwards.

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