Q&A with Kaine Hatukai on ‘PROUD’, a queer love story

PROUD, a queer love story that tackles the themes of race, trauma, religion, and sexuality, will be running at the King’s Head Theatre from the 22nd February to 12th March 2022.

PROUD centres around three complex characters. After his Pentecostal mother dies, Roland is liberated to live openly as a gay man. He relocates from Brixton to Walthamstow, where he unexpectedly falls for Amir, a much younger refugee with a war-torn past. Their magnetic connection is tested, however, by Amir’s PTSD, his inability to identify as gay and Roland’s strained relationship with his teenage son, Gary. What binds these characters together is the desire to know and understand one another as they struggle to come to terms with their own identities.

Director Marlie Haco comments, PROUD “has been a long time in the making, but the play now feels more relevant than ever, providing a glimpse into the emotional lives of those oppressed by the forces of war, white supremacy, and homophobia. In directing PROUD, I hope to reveal both the light and dark of the protagonists’ experience – the joy to be found in relationships, alongside the pain carried within. For me, this is a story of how the desire for connection can overcome the debilitating effects of our past and stir us to uncover hidden parts of the other.”

Kaine Hatukai, who will be playing Roland’s teenage son, Gary, answers a few of our burning questions!

Kaine Hatukai (Photo courtesy of Callum Kerr)

How would you describe the father-son relationship between Gary and Roland? 

It’s a complex one of kinship and conflict. While they are both ultimately striving to preserve the bond between them, their differing needs and priorities compromise their ability to keep in mind what’s best for the other person. The development of their relationship is pivotal to the play’s narrative arc and we see it pushed and pulled until a climatical reveal really tests the strength of their connection. 

These are very complex characters placed in complex situations. What insights have you learned from playing Gary?  

Through our time spent in rehearsal, I’ve discovered more about the duality between what Gary expresses on the outside and the internal conflicts he is experiencing within. As a teenager, Gary needs structure and stability, so the sudden disruption of all the constants in his life (his parents splitting up, his dad moving so far away) has really shaken him, but he struggles to find the words to articulate this. Marlie [Haco], our director, has helped me to uncover these layers of subtext beneath the lines. Capturing this tension between what Gary feels and what he says has been a new challenge for me and I’m therefore having to push myself to new limits to access what is required to play the role. 

What aspects of Gary’s character makes you most proud of them?

His passion. He’s not someone who gives up easily and he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. For me, Gary’s journey in the play shows us that, sometimes, battles are best won through straight-forward communication, expressing one’s vulnerability, and hence forming a deeper connection with the other.

Find out more, or book your tickets here.