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Pasifika play returns


Twenty-five years ago, Pasifika play Fresh Off the Boat debuted before New Zealand audiences; now, a new generation can experience this ground-breaking play at The Court Theatre from 19 October to 9 November.

 

 

The story follows Charles as he emigrates from Samoa to 1990s Christchurch for a new life in Aotearoa, but he soon finds the fantasy weaved for him comes with a few holes.

Directed by original cast member Tanya Muagututi’a, her two daughters, Talia-Rae and Josephine Mavaega, take on the same roles that Tanya and her sister, Mishelle Muagututi’a, played in the original production!

“It’s special because I’m working with my daughters – and they’re playing the sisters that I played with Mishelle 25 years ago! Who knew that was ever going to happen? When I was in the production, I wasn’t even thinking about children… it’s amazing,” Muagututi’a says.

Completing this family affair is Tanya’s husband, Posenai Mavaega, creating sound design, with her brother-in-law, Tony De Goldi, designing the set.

Written by Oscar Kightley (bro’Town; Sione’s Wedding) and Simon Small, the play’s 1993 roaring success saw it tour New Zealand, followed by Australia and Samoa, with Muagututi’a playing the role of Ula from 1993 – 1995.

The cast also features Sela Faletolu-Fasi, Jake Arona, Roy Snow and Albany Peseta, all of whom performed in the rehearsed reading last year at The Court Theatre as part of New Zealand Theatre Month celebrations.

Following its success, the Artistic team at The Court decided to revive the play for a full season. “Fresh Off the Boat is, historically, an incredibly important Pasifika play,” Artistic Director Ross Gumbley says. “It still works brilliantly and is perhaps even more poignant now than when it was written – as was shown when it was the star piece of writing in our 2018 Indelible Ink season.”

Described as hilarious but also sobering, this Pasifika play tells a story that culturally challenges us as Kiwis, yet is universal; it’s a story about family, culture shock and looking out for each other. With throwbacks to the ‘90s aplenty, audiences will love the comedy but can also expect to be taken on quite an affecting journey.

For bookings, phone 0800 333 100 or www.courttheatre.org.nz.

 

 


 

A talent for theatre


Roy Snow is about to take to the stage as Mervyn, the palagi boyfriend of Elizabeth in The Court Theatre’s milestone Pasifika play Fresh off the Boat which is showing at The Court Theatre until 9 November. We caught up with Roy about the role and what we can look forward to.

 

Roy Snow

 

You’ll always be Shortland Street’s Nurse Matt McAllister to me! But you’ve done a huge number of shows and films since – including Go Girls, Much Ado About Nothing and Outrageous Fortune! What attracted you to acting?
Many, many things, all impossible to quantify. That’s what we call, in the business, evading the question. But it’s not that far off the mark. Lots of little things make what I do incredible; playing, pretending, the hum of an audience, amazing creative people, camaraderie and the joy of doing something I’m super passionate about. I’ve stood in the dark wings in that moment before a show kicks off and thought, ‘Wow, not bad Snow, not bad’. All these things are probably a result of, rather than an initial attraction, so I’m going to say, ‘I loved to pretend’.


Can you tell us about your latest, Fresh off the Boat, and what you’ve enjoyed about this play?
Now this is a play! Ground-breaking when it premiered in the ‘90s, it exploded across New Zealand, the Pacific and then the world. What a journey it must have been for Pacific Underground and its vastly talented crew. No history lesson from me, I’m not qualified. But I can speak to the absolute joy this production has been to work on. So much passion, love and history in the room. You have uber talented daughters playing roles their mum, our director, and aunty played in the original production. We’re visited often by members of the Samoan community and laughter and music go hand in hand with the hard work being put in on the ‘boards’. It’s been a privilege just to be in the room.


Why should audiences get in to see this show?
Because so much of this play resonates 25 years after its Christchurch debut. Its themes are timeless: family, dislocation, culture clashes, discovering your freedom, growing up and dealing with everything that entails. Wrap that up in humour, aroha, music and a fair amount of ‘90s pop culture and you’ve got one heck of a play. See it. And… I’m in it.


How much of a different beast is live theatre to a soap opera?
It’s a different beast but mostly due to the technicality of each medium… boring! As an actor you notice the immediacy of theatre. You know or can feel when you’re in the zone on stage whereas screen has a few more ‘filters’ before it reaches your audience. Both are challenging, both are rewarding and once you’re over the initial nerves, a lot of fun.


What have been some of your most memorable roles over the years?
Oliver Twist. I was ten, it was my first musical. My mum played Nancy and was the star. Here I experienced my first moment of theatre magic. Mum had just sung As Long As He Needs Me and was in the throes of being murdered by the villainous Bill Sykes. I stood in the wings, I couldn’t see anything only hear the screams and pitiful pleas as the life was strangled out of my mum. Then nothing, a silence that, in my young brain, went on forever. In the Balclutha Community Hall, 400 people sat in complete silence for, what seemed to me, an eternity. It stuck with me ever since.


What’s the best part about what you get to do?
That I get to do it at all. I’ve been very fortunate and many wonderful people have contributed to the success I’ve had, none more so than my beautiful wife and whānau. I love what I do; that’s the best part.


What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
That would be telling… That’s actor code for ‘no idea’. Not exactly true – I have a few irons in the fire that may include a musical and a touring show up north in 2020, but such is the nature of this ‘bizz’ that nothing is confirmed until I’ve signed on the dotted line. Straight after Fresh off the Boat I’m into A Christmas Carol at The Forge at The Court Theatre, which will take me right up to Christmas. Then, perhaps, a bit of ‘reno’ on my house in Geraldine if my wife has her way… and she will.

 

Read more about this milestone Pasifika play HERE.