WILD DOGS UNDER MY SKIRT to Launch Off-Broadway Engagement in April
This spring, SoHo Playhouse Inc. (Darren Lee Cole producing artistic director) and F.C.C. (Flow, Create and Connect) will present Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, the award-winning play by Samoan poet Tusiata Avia and directed by Anapela Polata'ivao. Wild Dogs Under My Skirt plays a limited six-week engagement April 16 - May 24 at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street, NYC). The official opening is Thursday, April 30 at 7:30PM. Tickets are available online at www.sohoplayhouse.com.
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt features Anapela Polata'ivao leading an all-female cast of Pacific Island (Pasifika) actors including Petmal Lam, Vaimaila Urale Baker, Ilaisaane Green and more to be announced.
Embracing themes of love, sexuality, oppression, abuse, segregation, and pride, Avia's poetic and provocative exploration of Pacific Island life is a universal and empowering celebration of what it is to be an indigenous woman of color.
Avia launched Wild Dogs Under My Skirt in 2002 as a spoken word piece at New Zealand's Dunedin Fringe Festival and it was published two years later. Avia performed the work as a solo piece around the world - throughout New Zealand, in Brisbane, Honolulu, Hamburg, Moscow, Vienna and Africa - until it was developed into an ensemble theatrical piece by her playwright cousin, Victor Rodger. The six-woman version subsequently debuted in 2016 and has since toured to acclaim throughout New Zealand as well as picking up a slew of awards including 2018 Wellington Theatre Awards for Best Production, Best Actress (Anapela Polata'ivao) and Best Lighting Design (Rachel Marlow), and the 2016 Auckland Theatre Award for Best Director (Polata'ivao).
"I was named after my great-aunt Tusiata. The word in Samoan means 'artist' so it's a very fortunate name," says playwright Tusiata Avia. "But writing was the dream I couldn't aspire to, because girls 'like me' - i.e. brown girls from Aranui - didn't become writers. I was good at writing - particularly poetry - at 10, but by 15, I consciously shut it down. It took me till my thirties to gather a sense of entitlement that allowed me to come back to New Zealand, take a couple of writing courses and start performing some of my own poetry. I wrote Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and performed that show all over the world. Now, the play continues to be performed all over by an ensemble of six extraordinary Pacific women artists. In the very early days, I thought that 'it's about Pacific things' but I quickly learnt that it's really just a window to a wider world. It speaks about big human issues - love and sex and domestic violence - that speak across cultures. The spirit of the piece rings true. It is personal, it's political, it's social - like art should be, I feel. Taking Wild Dogs back to New York this year is something I am so pleased about and looking forward to."
In 2019, Darren Lee Cole, executive producer of The Fringe Encore Series and Producing Artistic Director of SoHo Playhouse, encountered the show at the PANNZ (Performing Arts Network New Zealand) conference. In describing his initial response to the work, Cole recalls "with its guttural slam poetry style about women finding their voice in their world, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt transported me back to the first time I saw Ntozake Shange's acclaimed theatre piece, For Colored Girls..., where six women who have experienced oppression tell their stories."
Participating in this year's prestigious Fringe Encore Series, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt was awarded the 2019 "Outstanding Production of the Year."
The Fringe Encore Series was formed in 2004 to reward the best of fringe productions by giving them a more high profile run in New York City. Originally developing shows out of FringeNYC the series is now a fully international celebration of the best that "fringe" has to offer. Representing fringe festivals from all over the world, the encore series has now become a great celebration of the world's top productions descending upon New York at the end of the season. Festivals represented have included Edinburgh, Adelaide, Auckland, Brighton, Cape Town, Orlando, Vancouver, Limerick, Hollywood, Winnipeg, Toronto and, of course, NYC. Each year, a committee of producers, directors and performers selects an "Outstanding Production," which receives a full Off Broadway run at SoHo Playhouse in New York. Previous winners have included Josephine: A Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Krapp, 39, Rent Control and Jamaica Farewell.
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt features a scenic design is by Jane Hakaraia and Tyler Vaeau; lighting design by Rachel Marlow; choreography by Mario Faumui; and percussion by Leki Jackson-Bourke.
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt plays a limited six-week engagement April 16 - May 24 at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street, NYC). The official opening is Thursday, April 30 at 7:30PM. Tickets are available online at www.sohoplayhouse.com, by calling (212) 691-1555, or visiting the SoHo Playhouse box office (open Mon. - Fri. 5:30 - 9PM & Sat. & Sun. 3-7PM). Performances are Wednesday - Sunday at 7:30PM, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are $35 for all preview performances, and $49 after opening. Student tickets are available for $18. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20% discount, booked through the box office. Visit www.sohoplayhouse.com for more information.
Photo Credit: Raymond Sagapolutele