Hip-hop whakapapa - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 197

Hip-hop whakapapa by Alessia Belsito-Riera

Flames is a show that is not ashamed of its unique voice,” creator and performer Reon Bell says. Billed as a hip-hop musical, Flames is a detective drama set in Wellington that is running at Circa Theatre from the 13th to the 17th of June as part of Kia Mau Festival.

Written by Roy Iro and Reon, this innovative fusion of theatre and hip-hop follows private detectives Morgan Reid (Roy) and Ian Sheff (Reon) as they attempt to solve a series of arsons.

“It is unapologetic in its presentation and use of music, and it breathes energy and excitement out into the audience,” Reon says. “It plays on classic tropes of detective media in a fun way that simultaneously deeply respects its roots and pokes fun at the dramatic nature of the musical form.”

Flames celebrates the whakapapa of hip-hop culture in Aotearoa. But it’s not like Hamilton, Roy says. It shows that hip-hop can be portrayed in its purity without catering to the musical theatre world. They believe that Flames is elevating Aotearoa hip-hop by shaping it into a new creative outlet –theatre – and hope it proves to theatregoers that rules are meant to be broken. “Hip-hop is the gateway for our audience to embrace what we’re showing and to take a small step into theatre,” Roy continues.

Reon hopes “indigenous audiences get to see a part of themselves on the stage, as the collection of viewpoints of what being Māori and being indigenous grows.”

“Theatre and hip-hop are two elements we love,” Roy says. “We’re two collaborators focused on creating work we’re passionate about and work we have fun with – that’s Flames.

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