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Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum 2005

Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum 2005 - Developing Vital Voices

Four new Pacific Island and Maori plays and playwrights feature as part of the Celebrate Pasifika festival this year, presented as works in progress on Saturday March 11.

“Emerging Maori and Pacific Island playwrights are a vital force in the development of a distinctive voice in our contemporary theatre culture,” says Playmarket Script Development Manager Mark Amery. “Yet these writers still often feel outside of the theatre mainstream, and receive limited encouragement in applying rigour to the development of their voices and new ways of telling stories.”

In recognition of this, Playmarket, New Zealand's leading script development organisation and Auckland City Council have come together to provide a significant national development programme for Maori and Pacific Island playwrights.

As part of Pasifika on Saturday March 12 at TAPAC theatre (Motions Road, across from the main festival in Western Springs Park), the public have a chance to experience four new works in progress for the stage. Following a week of development for two Samoan and two Maori emerging playwrights, these are first presentations for four theatre works on their way towards premiere.

Announcing the plays and the playwrights:

9am Taku Kiri by Vicki-Anne Heikell
A powerful new drama. In the small community of Te Kohi, 24 year old Niagara receives permission to photograph Te Ao, a 104 year old kuia who reveals to her as she relearns the hapu’s famous waiata, a dramatic new perspective on the community’s history.

10.30am His Mother’s Son by Leilani Unasa
Equal parts funny and tragic, His Mother’s Son is a portrait of an ordinary but troubled Samoan family at a time of crisis. Their authoritarian family patriarch Tasi has successfully alienated the people he loves most in life, will they come to him in his hour of need?

12.30pm Lost Again by Miria George
The play Lost Again examines an Aotearoa New Zealand where all tangata whenua have fled the country. All except one, a young woman Wairua who is now waiting for her own flight to leave. Joined by others and pursued by one, who could stop her from leaving?

2.30pm Angels by Tanya Muagututi’a and Joy Vaele
Sing and Stevie have worked hard to make a name for themselves. Their band “Angels” - made up of Sunday school mates - have stood behind them through thick and thin. But then Sing announces that she has decided to dedicate her talent to God and the church. That was 1993. Eleven years later, Sing still wonders whether she has been forgiven. This Samoan comedy is a tale of family, religion, friendship and loyalty. Tanya and Joy have performed with Pacific Underground, as actors, and singer/songwriters for ten years. Angels is their first project they have co-written.

These presentations follow discussion and presentation by other playwrights and theatre practitioners with work in progress as part of the forum on the Friday. This workshop week follows script development work with dramaturgs since September 2004. These four writers’ projects were selected through a nationwide application process. Working with professional directors and dramaturgs, the casts are a mix of third year UNITEC students and professionals.

“Too often,” says Amery, “a play’s development for independent companies becomes secondary to the need to meet production dates. This is not always a choice that is made, but a pressure brought to bear on the writer by necessity. We hope this programme will help encourage the growth of stronger theatre development practise.”

Playmarket is New Zealand’s leading script development organisation and playwrights’ agency. The 2004 Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum follows on from the Pacific Island Playwrights Forum at Playmarket’s Aotearoa Playwrights Conference 2003 at UNITEC. Its National Script Development Programme is made possible with core funding from Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. Auckland City Council and Playmarket wish to also thank UNITEC and Pasifika for their support.

The Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum 2005 is part of the inaugural three week celebration of Pacific culture called ‘Celebrate Pasifika’. Celebrate Pasifika will include exhibitions and performances across film, theatre, arts and crafts as well as some great sporting action.

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