Earlier in the week I attended Playmarket‘s 2008 Pasifika Playwrights Development Forum. Fellow BREAK survivor and newly appointed Playmarket development coordinator, Jenni Heka, was responsible for my attendance: she’s scary.
In my experience, Pasifika* gatherings have been the last place to have a good time. I’ve felt out of place at them, like I’ve gatecrashed someone’s birthday party. Most have been a combination of boring gabfest, bitch sessions, and/or a mob hysteria where one had to choose sides or get the hell out.
Not so this week. It wasn’t once boring. Instead of “woe is me” rants, we had fire and passion – where outsiders might’ve seen some rabble-rousing radicalism, I saw empowerment by example and vision. And everyone – everyone – was so freaking nice. There was an atmosphere of collegiality, of a common goal of telling Pasifika stories. A feeling of community.
I hadn’t expected to be so inspired: seeing my competition fellow Pasifika creatives making things happen; swapping numbers and email addresses; making contact. Future posts will explore the culture scene thingie (obviously, I’m still sorting it out in my head) but for now I’ll just name drop:
- Insiders Guide to Happiness lead, Fasitua Amosa (Samoan);
- Royal Court Theatre head, Ola Animashawun, who provided his dramaturgy services to the forum;
- Love Handles and Miss South Pacific writer Arnette Arapai (Niue);
- Actors Equity representative, Teresa Brown;
- director, screenwriter, fellow guild member, and all-round gentleman, Tony Forster;
- award-winning playwright and actor Dianna Fuemana (Niue/Samoan);
- And What Remains writer, Miria George (Rarotongan/Cook Islands);
- writer, director, producer, comedian and Killa Kokonut, Vela Manusaute (Samoan), who is many things because he simply gets it on;
- established playwright and currently New Zealand Film Commission development executive, Hone Kouka (Maori);
- New Zealand acting icon Nathaniel Lees (Samoan);
- Fulbright scholar and playwright, Victor Rodger (Samoan/Scottish);
- Phoenix Seve, whose work-in-development In the Name of the Father was given a public reading by professional actors and I was simultaneously electrified and brought to tears – and it’s still in development;
- BREAK survivor and actor, the irrepressible Bronwyn Turei (Maori);
- and writer and filmmaker, Louise Tu’u (Samoan), who also showcased some scenes from her work-in development, Providence, which is my must-see for 2008.
So many names that I recognised, whose work I’d seen and adored. And I got to meet them! For real! It was so cool!
I must get out more.
* Note for international readers: in New Zealand, Pasifika means of Pacific Island origin, ie., not Maori. Here in New Zild, the Maori and Pacific Island population are already such a part of the Kiwi culture that to call them ethnic minorities, though statistically correct, would be like describing African Americans as an ethnic minority. We all be Kiwis here.