Amataga o le Alofa: Let the Show begin

By Sarafina Sanerivi 17 September 2016, 12:00AM

The Pacific Islands Creative Arts Australia Incorporated (PICAA Inc) has some exciting news for the Samoan community – especially in Melbourne Australia. 

This follows the announcement of their upcoming show titled “Amataga ole Alofa” which will be staged at Melbourne on the 23rd to the 24th of this month. 

Rita Seumanutafa, director of PICAA INC, and music director of the show says the idea to have a production was born when she was asked to put together a Samoan theatre production earlier this year. 

Rita did not have a production planned out, or a cast to work with.

“But I knew a lot of talented Samoan people in Melbourne who would love the chance to do something extraordinary for the Australian public,” said Rita. 

“Something that would highlight Samoan creative artistic talent and was different from the usual music and dance performances already seen in Melbourne.

“So I asked Delsa Tuitea – a BA (TV and English Lit) graduate to write a play within two weeks; another friend Steve Tafea to direct the play once Delsa had finished the script.”

Rita, Delsa and Steve are current youth leaders within their respective EFKS churches in Melbourne and were already skilled in creating and producing Samoan plays and performances, so the transition to a bigger stage was not that difficult to do.  

In terms of cast members, Rita had been contacted by various New Zealanders who had moved over to Melbourne in previous years looking for opportunities to perform on stage as they had Performing Arts backgrounds in NZ. 

Within one week, Rita had put together a cast and crew (front and backstage) of nearly 50 Samoans ready to dedicate their next 6 weeks in rehearsing this production. 

Asked about the message behind the play Rita said, “Amataga ole Alofa or The Beginning of Love” is based on the Samoan creation story, placing three supreme gods as rulers of the heavens.  

“Drama unfolds when Tagaloa, one of the gods, creates land and sea without consulting the others. 

“Love plays out in the relationships between the gods’ children, in a love triangle between Sina, Tuli and Tagi.  The relationship between Samoan parent and child is also highlighted in this story – weaving mythology and fantasy together to create a show is entertaining, thought provoking and inspiring.  The name of the play was chosen by the show’s playwright DelsaTuitea.”

Moreover, Rita said that they are working with eight dancers in this production. 

“The dancers make up the talented dance group from Melbourne – Tama Tatau and Nesian Pearl.  

“The dance choreography is created by the groups’ leaders Victor Vitaliano and Filomena Wairasi.  

“A major feature in this play is the sounds of The Melbourne Samoan Choir – who provide a musical background of traditional Samoan songs as well as original compositions.”

This is the first play produced by PICAA INC. 

However, the play was premiered in June 2016 to a sold-out audience.  

So from that evening, PICAA INC. was encouraged by the Samoan community who attended, to develop the play and prepare it for the larger Pasefika community in Melbourne. And that’s why they are hosting this show on September 23rd and 24th.  

“The cast have re-joined together for the last 6 weeks and are ready to present a richer and fuller presentation of Amataga o le Alofa,” said Rita. 

The show is funded by PICAA INC. via community fundraisers.  

Said Rita, PICAA INC. is a non-profit organisation and relies solely on self-fundraising.  “Whilst there is limited funding available for our group, we are determined to provide a platform for our talented actors, dancers, musicians, production crew to get their chance to be on stage in Australia.

And like any other thing in life, there are always challenges. 

Rita said, “As well as financial challenges, there is the element of time commitment available from each individual in this show.  Many of us cannot afford to pursue the performing arts as a full-time job here in Australia – roles are very rare for Pacific peoples, job opportunities in this industry are limited also.  

“Many of the actors who have performing arts degrees in our show rely on organisations such as PICAA INC. to provide events that allow them the opportunity to perform in their chosen field.

“So in order to raise our young families and get ahead, full-time jobs must be kept.”

However Rita and her PICAA Inc. Group are optimistic. 

“This is just the start of a Pacific theatre movement happening here in Australia and PICAA INC. is ready to take the challenge in order to allow more Pasefika creative artists to pursue the Arts at a higher level.”

This show has been promised to be an amazing show for the whole family and especially for the Samoan community in Melbourne.

“You can expect to see a theatrical performance that is first-class, well-rehearsed and through the performance – artistic talent and skill that is delivered with pride from our cast.  

“There are many comedic moments in this story, as well as a few tear-jerking ones, but all in all, the performance will leave the audience proud to be part of a community that is supporting Pasefika talent.”

Finally, they are also calling out to all the young Pasefika people to stand up and embrace their identities. 

“We encourage all young Pasefika people to not be afraid of using their Pasefika identities in order to create career paths for themselves. 

“Often our creative talents are boxed into “cultural” activities, or to be used when we’re at home or with our church groups.  We would like to inspire young people to use their talents: music, dance, art, crafts, theatre, and film together with their own Pasefika identities to forge their own artistic future.”

By Sarafina Sanerivi 17 September 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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