Previews: O LE PEPELO, LE GAOI, MA LE PALA'AI - THE LIAR, THE THIEF AND THE COWARD at ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland

POWER, POLITICS & TRADITION COLLIDE IN AN EPIC PASIFIKA BATTLE FOR SUCCESSION 

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Previews: O LE PEPELO, LE GAOI, MA LE PALA'AI - THE LIAR, THE THIEF AND THE COWARD at ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland
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In Sāmoa’s not-so-distant past, Pili Sā Tauilevā is a proud Ali’i (chief) in the village of Moa. He has devoted his life to the sacred fa’a sāmoa tradition of service. When he suddenly falls gravely ill and refuses to name a successor, his daughter and son become rivals for the title. But nothing plays out as expected when others come out to join the race.

O lana fanau ua ala ai ona ola umi. Auā e talepe e tamaiti mea uma, pe a to lana mānava. The only thing keeping him alive is his children. Because when he dies, they’ll ruin everything.

This beautifully layered production, profound in its rich portrayal of a family in crisis, widens the net to provide vital commentary on the growing divide between those who have chosen to stay in Sāmoa and those who have chosen to leave. In Ancient Sāmoa the people lived by the principles of harmony. Conservation of natural resources and strong family relationships allowed the people to live in balance with the cosmos, environment and each other. But what happens when democracy, capitalism, religion, and tourism upset the balance? What should be sacrificed and what should be preserved?

“…a rollercoaster of so many different moments from being shocked, to hysterically laughing to fighting back tears.” Theatreview Wellington, June 2023

The multi award-winning duo and founders of I Ken So Productions Natano Keni (Sāmoa/Aotearoa) and Sarita So(Khmer/Aotearoa) use both English and Gagana Sāmoa to tell a modern tale of a man who’s out of step with the times and whose time is running out. Both creatives have picked up awards for their respective works at the Wellington Theatre Awards with a repertoire inspired by their own cultural backgrounds and informed by the land of their upbringing, Aotearoa. 

Keni says “Fa’asigomaga is a theme explored within the play, in a fa’asamoa context, it encompasses both identity and direction. Ultimately, the play prompts the question: as a culture, a people, within our roles what is the best direction?”

He directs a cast of nine powerhouse Pasifika actors whose ability to perform in two languages, accompanied by the beauty of movement and song, makes this a fulfilling and deeply moving theatrical experience. Taking on the pivotal role of chief Pili Sā Tauilevā is Semu Filipo (Things That Matter, Young Rock, The Justice of Bunny King). About to appear on the big screen in the NZ release of Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, Filipo has graced our stages and screens for many years and is passionate about painting a complex portrait of a man whose hard edge is driven by the fear of losing his position.

Joining Filipo on stage is a phenomenal and multi skilled cast that includes actor, dancer and singer Aruna Po-Ching (Westside, The Waiting Room), former radio broadcaster and actor Ana Corbett (UPU, Totally Completely Fine), award-winning actor, choreographer and dancer Villa Junior Lemanu (Far North, The Panthers), and actors Haanz Fa’avae- Jackson (Red, White & Brass, The Panthers), James Maeva (Upu, To Kill A Mockingbird) and Jesme Fa'auuga (Brown Boys, Shortland Street).

To ensure all audiences are welcome to come to see this work there are $20 access tickets for NZSL-Interpreted and Audio Described performances. The NZSL-Interpreted performance on 8pm Sat 23 March will also be a sensory relaxed performance, the first that Auckland Theatre Company will facilitate in 2024. Other ways to save include $30 tickets for Under 30 year olds and a dedicated Pay What You Wish performance which will go on sale closer to the date which is scheduled for Tue 12 March.

When the titan falls will your heart be pure, or will you do whatever it takes to seize power?  



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