Family violence stories real

If you are expecting "Once Were Warriors - The Play'', then think again.

Fran Kewene produced and acts in the Dunedin Fringe Festival play Stories to Heal Violence.

The Dunedin woman said the show was a verbatim performance, based on real life stories of people getting help at Stopping Violence Dunedin.

Stopping Violence Dunedin is a non-profit charity with a 31-year history which runs programmes for men and women who have experienced violence in their relationships.

People should not expect a play based on the movie Once Were Warriors, Kewene said.

"This is a slice of life - a form of documentary theatre.''

The "45-minute experience'' opens at The Athenaeum Theatre tonight and runs for three nights.

The play was rated R16 - and parental guidance is recommended - but it was not designed to "shock'' and included "joy and laughter'', Kewene said.

Fringe Festival Dunedin play Stories to Heal Violence producer and actor Fran Kewene (left) and...
Fringe Festival Dunedin play Stories to Heal Violence producer and actor Fran Kewene (left) and her collaborator, Stopping Violence Dunedin manager Cinnamon Boreham, in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

In the performance, Kewene plays Carl, a Dunedin man who referred himself to the programme after living among violence.

Another actor plays Stopping Violence Dunedin manager Cinnamon Boreham.

Ms Boreham decided to bring a play to the festival this year because it was an opportunity for the organisation to bring the issues of family violence in Dunedin to the public.

The play would also "act as an important extension of the therapy''.

She hoped one day the play could be performed at the Otago Corrections Facility, using prisoners' stories.

When she started at the organisation 24 years ago, she expected to see "big burly gang members and scary, heavily tattooed people''.

"What I got was a really eclectic mix of people from all parts of socio-demographics and that settled me because I was terrified.''

Over time she got a better understanding of family violence and discovered how change often came after working with generations of a family.

The actors recently performed to the people whose stories were being told and tears flowed, Boreham said.

"It was beautiful.''


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