Wheel Reinventing

A life-size horse lamp because A LIFE-SIZE HORSE LAMP. (Without permission from www.droold.com.)

Late last year, I got asked to work up a little something that would probably open with —


I hadn’t done a based-on-actual-events job before* but I accepted the gig because 1. it paid, and 2. how hard could it be?

The  concept was simple enough: a mini-series based on an incident that had happened a decade earlier, was reported world-wide, and it had a gorgeous protagonist to boot. A tweak here and there, and maybe I could work in a car chase, maybe even some gun play. As I researched the heck out of it, a voice in my head screamed over and over, This shit is just writing itself!


It had to be the kind of show that I would consciously tune in to. Which meant there would be no in media res device in the first ep because I’ve had it up to here with —

A wham-bang opening scene, then --

TITLE: One week earlier.

— so much so that when the Lovely Wife and I were trying a new show recently, I said, “If this sequence ends with a title saying, ‘Six hours ear—’ FUUUCK!” that last word making her spill her tea and I had to go and make her a fresh cuppa.

… Where was I? Yes. So. Here I was playing in the biographical drama space and one of my first creative decisions meant I had no wham-bang sequence to lure the audience in with.

What to do?

The development journey was all down hill from there.

* One could argue that Goodbye My Feleni and We Are Many are earlier outings in historical drama but no: they each took an “Inspired by” approach to Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand history.



Closing night audience heads into the theatre.
Closing night audience heads into the theatre.

Gosh it’s warm here.

With many thanks to the Apia High Commission, I was able to attend the last two nights of Goodbye My Feleni‘s season in Samoa. Yep.

It took a village, of course:

  • the actors — Sakura Siaosi Seumanutafa, George Randolph Tuiletufuga, Myka Stanley, Tonumaipe’a J Aiolupotea, Iosefa Enari, Joshua E G Aiono, and Anthony Sileli O’Byrne;
  • the directors Fiona Collins and Gaea Asolelei To’alepai;
  • the production was driven by Sophie Vickers for the Apia High Commission, overseen by High Commissioner Jacqui Frizzell, and supported by Mary Hughes and fellow high commission people;
  • and the awesome people at Home Cafe — Frank the Island’s Most Aws’ BaristaLoia the ChefSetu the BouncerJay the Friendly Taxi Driver, and Marianne the Bar Manager.

I’m chuffed: that Feleni has been shared overseas again; and that the play has enabled me to visit my parents’ birth country.

The cast of the Apia season with local RSA admirers.
The cast of the Apia season with local RSA admirers.


Reinforcements for the Maori Battalion aboard the HMT Batory, 1940. (Courtesy of Australian War Memorial via Wikipedia.)

Yes, it’s on again: Goodbye My Feleni will be playing at Home Cafe, Malifa, Samoa, Monday 20 – Friday 24 April 2015, 7:30pm each night. This production is directed by Fiona Collins and Gaea Asolelei To’alepai.

Tickets are free — they are available from the New Zealand High Commission, Beach Road, Apia or telephone +68 1 21 711.

This season is part of the 2015 ANZAC Day Programme for Samoa and is courtesy of Hekama Creative and New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade.

(Translation of toe alu — Samoan, meaning “go again”.)



They’re playing our song stateside at the Rainbow Theatre, University of California, Santa Cruz, on Thursday 13 November, Saturday 15 November, and Friday 21 November 2014.

141113 Rainbow Theatre

If you’re in the neighbourhood and you’re curious about all the brouhaha, check it out (and report back, please, because I’m dashedly curious myself).

(Translation of “por ahi” — Spanish for “over there”.)



It’s back, this time as part of the 2014 Going West Books and Writers Festival.

Goodbye My Feleni, 2014

Tickets are on sale now from Eventfinder.

The 2014 season is 28–31 August 2014 at the Playhouse Theatre, Glen Eden.

Returning for their second — and for some, third — tour of duty are:

  • Amelia Reid-Meredith, director;
  • Shadon Meredith, Lance Corporal Simi Bishop;
  • Ruby Reihana-Wilson, operator;
  • and Jenni Heka, producer.

Freshies for the 2014 season are:

  • Shimpal Lelisi, Sergeant Ete Masani;
  • Pua Magasiva, Private Tama Apara;
  • Dominic Ona Ariki, Private Sione Make;
  • Jane Hakaraia, lighting design;
  • Posenai Mavaega & Tania Muagututi’a, sound design;
  • and Venus Stephens, costume design.

Onwards ho!

(Translation of “toe sau” — Samoan for “come again” or “return”.)


Where Themes Come From II



What is “Goodbye My Feleni” about?



It’s about a bunch of Pacific Island soldiers mucking about.

Our Writer sees this will not fly with the Dramaturg.


It’s ah, it’s um about... brothers...?

You’d think after all this time I’d know what I was doing more often than not.


Meet and Greet

The past few days’ burning question has been: Would I still write this post if I hadn’t been an award recipient?  Close behind it has been this Schrodinger follow-up: Would I still be an award recipient if I hadn’t decided the day before to attend the event?  (Employees and families of employees of the organisers are not allowed to answer the second question.)

So, yeah, wow. Last Thursday I went along to the SWANZ awards, cheering for the competition because that was the only way I could deal with the pressure… and Goodbye My Feleni won.  And the night itself, viewed in the preceding fortnight with dread and anxiety, turned out to be a very pleasant evening indeed.

I got to meet and talk with:

Ahh, networking. Not always as painful and dreadful as I imagine.

* I know they’re more than playwrights.



Last month, Auckland Theatre Company‘s Literary Manager, Philippa Campbell, invited the Goodbye My Feleni crew to join ATC’s 2013 Making Scenes programme. We accepted, of course.  What this means is we get a two-day workshop with a public reading on Thursday 25 July 2013, 6:30pm at ATC, Mount Eden War Memorial Hall, Lower Ground Floor, 487 Dominion Road, Mount Eden.

Shadon & Amelia will be directing, Jenni is producing, and yours truly will be on hand to eat the actors’ morning and afternoon teas.  Speaking of which (cue shameless name-dropping), assisting us with this stage of Goodbye My Feleni‘s development are: