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John Vakidis’ Tzigane

16 December 2008
For immediate release
John Vakidis’ Tzigane

The first significant piece of literature exploring the Greek-Romanian refugee experience of emigrating and living in New Zealand has been published. John Vakidis’s Tzigane, an acclaimed New Zealand play has been released by Playmarket as part of the New Zealand Play Series, publishing a series of important New Zealand works for the theatre.

The Greek Civil War, fought from 1946 to 1949 forced many Greek Romanians to leave Romania coming to NZ for a better life. They arrived in three lots on the ship the SS GOYA, a Norwegian refugee ship that departed Pireaus, Greece, and arrived in Wellington on 1 May 1951. They were then taken to a refugee camp at Pahiatua the same camp that Polish refugees were sent to in 1944.

A New Zealander of Greek-Romanian stock, John Vakidis’ parents came over on the SS Goya and inspired his story, described by The Sunday Star Times on premiere as “A major play, a major achievement”. Vakidis is well known as a writer for radio and theatre.

Tzigane’s first production was directed by Cathy Downes and performed at Downstage Theatre. It won five awards at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in 1996, including Best New New Zealand play and Production of the Year. It tells the story of a Greek Romanian immigrant family. The New Zealand born children return to the family home for a reunion, where a secret is gradually revealed. Warm, passionate and very funny, Tzigane (Romanian for Gypsy) introduces us to a Greek-Romanian New Zealand family whose situation (separated from each other by distance and expectations) speaks to many of us.

Tzigane is part of the New Zealand Play Series. Also being released is The Daylight Atheist by Tom Scott, loosely based on the life of his father, from Irish boyhood to World War II airman to New Zealand immigrant, he retraces a life of profane exploits and extrodinary adventures. And Falemalama and The Packer by Dianna Fuemana. Falemalama is an exhilarating 24-hour rollercoaster ride through the charged urban Pacific diversity which is contemporary Auckland, while The Packer is a brave and beautiful dramatization of a migrant Samoan woman’s journey from Pago Pago to Seattle then finally to New Zealand.

Tzigane and other New Zealand Play Series titles are available from and all good bookshops.


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