Samoan Theatre in Melbourne

Okay you guys, now I know that in my last post  I was  in a tad-bit-bat-shit-crazy mode  with LIFE and everything I had decided to take on..but I just wanted to let you know how that nite (June 21st 2016) went:

First of all, it was an amazing experience.  For real. I mean, a few weeks into rehearsals I was reassuring everyone with “Don’t worry guys! We got dis! It’s just a step up from Lotu Tamaiti…” but then, on performance day, once the lights were dimmed, we were all dressed up and ready for the opening number to a sold-out audience, I was all “Oh my gosh guys..this shit is legit! 100 steps up! 100 steps up!”  Yep, that was me….

But hey – our play was received amazingly well by the audience, a mixture of Samoan and non-Samoan peeps who happily stayed back for an hour with us to eat faapapa (coconut bread) and sua fa’i (banana soup). We had the TV Samoa Melbourne crew there, taking video footage and interviewing audience members for the beginning episodes of their new TV programme. Also, Multicultural Arts Victoria officials attended and were eager to continue discussions about taking our play to country Victoria where there is a large Pacific community.  The smooth vocalists from DFX Barbershop opened our night with their beautiful arrangements of Samoan gospel.

So, where is this show at right now? Well – thank you for asking! Firstly, we have developed the show, it’s bigger, it’s better and we are preparing to showcase it on two consecutive nights in two different parts of Melbourne in order to cater for everyone who wants to watch it. Secondly, this show is really the beginning of a Pacific theatre movement happening in Australia. We are not a professional theatre production company putting together professional actors, dancers, musicians, production teams. INSTEAD, we are members of the Melbourne Pacific community coming together to stamp our own creative artistic talents path  for all the world to see – our stories, and our peoples. So we’ve sourced our own playwright – Delsa Tuitea, an aspiring Samoan film director and playwright, a BA (TV & English Lit.) graduate from LaTrobe University. Our Director, Steve Tafea who hails from the Pacific Underground legacy in Christchurch; one of our actors is Asalemo Tofete, a BPA and BA graduate from the prestigous National Drama School of NZ, and then you have me as music director – flash title but I’m really just making sure that everyone has their important caffeine intake during rehearsals (totes important).  This is just a small number of the huge amount of talent we make altogether and we make a tiny part of the Melbourne Samoan community here. Our crew is a gentle reminder to the rest of Australia, that there is room for Pacific theatre here, and if you look deeply into the Pacific communities of Australia, you will find gems of untapped talent that can’t be taught in the conservatorium or prestigious dance school – but instead, taught in the Pacific upbringing – in the home, church and at every frikken faalavelave or fundraising event we’ve ever had the ‘pleasure’of performing at lol.

So! If you are reading this and you think – Wowsers! We need to be part of this movement! Let’s get this party started! Crikey! Take that damn shrimp off the barbie and throw on some pua’a! Then I invite you to share this moment with us – here in Melbourne, on Friday 23rd or Saturday 24th September at precisely 8pm. And this is the part where I slot in our poster:




Manuia xx



Ever had those moments when you just want to slam your head into a wall for no particular reason?  If so – I hear you loud and clear.  We have reached halfway through 2016 and I can’t for the life of me remember what the eff it was that I promised to do this year 6 months ago.  I’m pretty sure I would’ve made some awesome NY resolutions like “study my ass off…make more money…be more patient…talk less and listen more…have a less stressful timetable..”..pretty much my standard list of to-dos every year. But nothing really rings a bell for me other than the fact that I have basically ignored my inner-pleas for a less stressful timetable.  I think I just hit the motherload of all stupid-ass-planning-without-thinking-ahead moments I’ve ever had in my entire life.

I’m not complaining about my life (well, not yet).  I’m just baffled – with myself…and the things I get up to.  In January, I wasn’t sleeping right. I kept waking up at 2am with creative ideas for community outreach events and ways of using my position as a community leader to produce awesome events that would showcase the amazing Pasefika creative talent that is right here in Melbourne.  I kept trying to brush off the ideas because helloooo -I’ve got shit to do man! I’ve got a PhD to finish, 3 kids to try not to kill…and blahblahblah I can’t even go on with this list..(it’s tiring to even think about my routine right now).  I just put it down to the things to do after I complete my studies.  But the ideas kept coming and I found myself typing them away in the middle of the night… by the end of January, I just couldn’t ignore the pull.

So what did my midnight dreams result in? Me founding a non-profit organisation called PICAA Incorporated. PICAA stands for Pacific Island Creative Arts Australia (We’re on Facebook and Instagram)  I got all the paperwork ready, got a board in place…found a secretary in the form of the most wonderful Samoan sista Evotia Tuitea and then boom…we started planning.  Soon afterwards, I started to accept gigs that I would normally turn down because of my schedule – but this time, I have a team of awesome  peeps who are down for whatever it takes to put Pasefika talent on the map here in Australia.  So now, I’m knee-deep in rehearsals as producer/music director for the first ever Samoan community-focused and community-based theatre production event in Australia – a play based on the story of Samoa’s creation called “Amataga o le Alofa” (“The Beginning of Love”).  Add to that, we put together a choir called “Pasefika Vitoria Choir” for a first-ever Pacific community event hosted by the prestigious National Gallery of Victoria on June 11th.   Yeah – I’m crazy busy: I’m part of a few Pasefika community and church groups already.  But can you imagine being a Pacific Islander living in a world where there is limited opportunity to take your children to see your people on stage?

Let’s keep the momentum going Pasefika people of Melbourne!  Let’s not worry about how hard it is to get our people seen or heard in the creative arts sector, or how hard it is to gain REAL LEGIT support from our own people (the ones who love to talk about doing things but don’t show up to actually do them!).  Let us instead focus on the end result – the part we play in opening these heavy-ass doors for our children who will grow up and not have to struggle to find opportunities to take the stage as proud Pasefika peoples. Our job today is make it HAPPEN for them – we have the means, we have the heart…we might go valea from the sheer stress of it all, but hey! Let’s go valea together 🙂

So am I on track to resolve my awesome goals for 2016? No. I’m still broke, I’m more impatient than ever..I still talk more than I listen (seriously, someone actually told me to shutup when I was talking over his explanation of something..probably not important hence why I kept talking lol)…and my stress levels? Pffft…what is stress these days? I can’t even tell what the difference is between stress and my life right now!