Abraham Kunin

Last week we were lucky enough to see the boundary-pushing new work by Bullet Heart Club, the creators of last year’s hugely successful Daffodils. Writer Rochelle Bright has collaborated with musician Abraham Kunin once more to blur the lines between theatre and cabaret, but with The Deliberate Disappearance of my Friend, Jack Hartnett, they are travelling to a much darker place. We chatted to Abe just ahead of opening night to get the low down.

I’m a-nxious about the show previewing tonight, but I’m also a-ware of the work that has gone into it, and believe in what we’ve created. I suppose this is not such a unique position prior to opening, but having written the songs, I feel inextricably attached to this particular project.

My day usually begins with wanting to sleep more, and ends with not being able to sleep. Although for the last month or so I’ve been catching the bus, this means an earlier start than usual. I’m having trouble fulfilling my hedonistic sleeping in, and very little trouble falling asleep at the end of the day. The inner-city bus service is way better than I thought it would be by the way.

Name your three favourite places in Auckland to eat, drink and play
Eat: Tianze Dumpling House
Drink: The Wine Cellar
Play: If you mean play music, maybe The Wine Cellar again. In terms of partying, I don’t know. A friends house?

Tell us something we’d be surprised to know about you
I’ve got a side gig of trying to become a professional Street Fighter 4 player. After seeing how good people really are on youtube, its like watching Olympians and deciding today that you want to be competitive with them. The reality of this working out is grim, but the passion is there. Its a good distraction from musician neurosis anyway.

Pick a book and a park you’d like to read it in, anywhere in the world.
The Old Man and The Sea, maybe at Lake Wainamu if that counts as a park. In summer, late afternoon. There’s plenty of parks I’d love to visit, but from personal experience, growing up near Te Henga has made it a special place for me.


What are the differences and similarities between this new play and the incredibly successful Daffodils?
The similarities are easy. Its a theatre show, Rochelle wrote both of them, me and Todd (Emerson) are in both of them,  there are songs and music involved again. Probably some signature feel type things from Bullet Heart Club too.

The differences, hmmm. It set out to be, and naturally developed to be about as different from Daffodils (the aforementioned aside) as I can imagine. I reckon its stretching everyone’s abilities more. Its less safe in almost every way. Its colder and more challenging, I think in a good way. Also, the familiarity of material is gone, so people won’t have any nostalgic emotional reference. They’ll have to relate to it in a new way.

Describe the process of writing and rehearsing this work with Rochelle and Todd, has it taken shape in a collaborative way?
Very much so. The script underwent various stages of metamorphosis while we were all away on tour, and through a series of workshops following that. Rochelle wrote to the music and vice versa, so the end work is a result of everybody’s vision. Todd added a lot to the narrative ideas too, and helped shape a script he could powerfully deliver onstage.

What do you hope people will leave this play thinking and feeling?
Probably just that, ‘thinking and feeling’. It will hopefully still be with them afterwards, maybe not in the way they imagined.

If everyone in the world had a theme song that played when they walked into a room, what would yours be and why?
Ha, I don’t know. This week, maybe Chamakay by Blood Orange or Sleep Sound by Jamie XX

The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett is playing at Q Theatre until the 8th of August. Read Court’s thoughts here. Get tickets here.