Baker rises to theatre challenge

Despite being a full-time baker, New Zealand-born Samoan Falesafune Fa'afia Maualaivao has been chosen to star in the Brown Crown Show at Wellington’s B.A.T.S. Theatre. 

The show is dedicated to showcasing the obligations  Polynesian women carry, including female empowerment, family legacy and respect (fa'aaloalo). 

The production follows a young Samoan woman who navigates modern life while remaining attached to tradition and legacy. 

Her life is lived in the shadow of the old legend of the Polynesian goddess, Nafanua, as told to her as a young girl by her grandmother. 

In an interview with 531pi radio, Ms. Maualaivao said that this is her first theatrical role but while growing up as a Pacific Islander she developed a love for performance.

"I do think this is my first theatre acting role and I think I got the love for performance at a young age within church and family and I think it’s quite common in the Pacific community with music," she told the station. 

When asked how she managed to get a role in the show, the 26-year-old said it was through making contact with the production’s director and producer, who she studied performing arts with in college. 

Although rehearsals were severely shortened, Ms. Maualaivao said the vibe within the rehearsal space was uplifting though albeit unfamiliar. 

"It has kept us all positive during a very special time of practice and we had to work with each other in a short span of time for what would be like [two months worth of] practice," she said. 

"For me, the challenging thing was just learning the different theatre jargon that I’ve never learned before and actually learning it in the space with actually really good, knowledgeable, and experienced people." 

She said the show was a lesson to Samoan women and teenage girls coping with similar struggles in western environments. 

"I think the message is and I think a lot of other women and teenage girls can relate to is the challenge of trying to keep hold of being modest as a traditional Samoan and respecting our parents but also trying to adapt to what we’re living in now which is a very westernised and contemporary world," she said. 

"Like my brother would be able to go out and hang out with his friends late at night and not get in trouble for anything, whereas us girls there’s a little bit of resistance to us to being able to have that freedom, the same equality regardless of sex and gender."

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