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From “Under the Fale” Pacific Underground Rises Again

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From “Under the Fale” Pacific Underground Rises Again.


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Christchurch performing arts group Pacific Underground continues its twenty-year celebration this weekend marking the groups milestone with a four-way collaboration with FESTA, The Free Theatre and Auckland Unitec’s School of Architecture for “Under The Fale” (Samoan word for house) – a giant light sculpture surrounded by Pasifika music, sculpture and food and kicking off the Canterbury Tales procession on Saturday 26 October at 8.30pm.

Canterbury Tales by The Free Theatre will weave through FESTA’s sites, and light sculptures from Oxford Terrace at the Bridge of Remembrance to the Cathedral Square.  Pacific Underground, and Team Highlight who are second year students of the Unitec Bachelor of Architecture Studies will occupy the first site at the top of the Re:START Mall.

It has been two years since Pacific Underground performed in Christchurch but the connection with The Free Theatre originated twenty years ago.   Producer and musician Tanya Muagututi’a accepted the offer by Peter Falkenberg and George Parker to collaborate at FESTA because of their longstanding connection.

“It was an easy ‘yes’.  Our very first production twenty years ago was the play ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ by Oscar Kightley and Simon Small at the Free Theatre in November of 1993. We’re part of each other’s histories.”

It was that season at The Free Theatre that branded the group’s ‘ground breaking theatre’ and famously, Pacific Underground became the place where New Zealand’s most respected artists such as Kightley, David Fane, Scribe, Dallas Tamaira (Fat Freddy’s Drop), Parks (from Ladi6) and Mark Vanilau – all cut their teeth.

‘Under The Fale’ has allowed Pacific Underground to voice its concern on the rebuild of Christchurch.   

“I watched online, the virtual flyover view of the CBD and was disappointed.  I saw brand new buildings with no history, and that the churches our communities established themselves in, were not replaced.” says Muagututi’a.

“Under the Fale will celebrate our community and our traditions like White Sunday (held annually in October), and our banding together in a time of need. After our initial meeting with George Parker we knew that the scale and opportunity of the project was like an empty canvas to paint on. We’ve stuck with our emotional response within our concept for months because it captures a moment in time that is part of our collective story.”

Team Highlight tested the build of the sculpture over two weekends in Auckland where Pacific Underground tested projecting images on it.

“We saw the sculpture in Auckland, and were overwhelmed.  The students took their design and aligned it with our concept.  The design pays homage to Christchurch’s Cathedral and the Avon River.  Our projections will add some texture, but the real beauty lies in overall structure.  They’ve really outdone themselves.  The four-way collaboration has been by far the most powerful one we’ve been involved in.  It’s everything PU is about, collaboration, innovation and telling stories of our place in New Zealand.”

Pacific Underground will also perform, and have invited artists from all over the country.  Musical director Pos Mavaega has been pleased with a great response from the community.

“Our friends and collaborators have answered our call to celebrate.  Twenty years on and we’re still breaking ground, proud of Christchurch, and this project.  We’ve had great help from George and his team and advice from our old collaborator - set designer from the Court Theatre Mark McEntyre.   

When the procession starts there’ll be some interaction with the giant character puppets that the Free Theatre have made. It will be fun!”.

Dunedin reggae group ‘Koile’, TJ Taotua from Wellington, local artists such as Fika Writers collective (with Poetry), the ‘No Limits’ crew and carved sculptures by Fatu Feu’u, Ston eMaka, Raphael Stowers with the help of Riki Manuel will also be on site with Pacific Underground who are performing new work.

ENDS

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