This week, the theatre component of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit opens for a 5-night season at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku. KINGDOM OF LOTE is a brand new play written by Suli Moa and produced by Kila Kokonut Krew, Auckland’s premier Pacific entertainment company. This is Pacific theatre history making stuff! We have a chat with Producer, Stacey Leilua to find out more…
Tell us about Kingdom of Lote – how did it come about, what is your role and who else is involved?
Kingdom of Lote was created and developed through the Young Kila Writers 2010 Program. Kila Kokonut Krew recognised the wealth of unrecognised talent and established the program with the goal of developing this talent and producing it into a full length, professional production that would present their unique stories to the community.
Over four months, three young Pasifika writers developed their original concepts into a third draft script which was then workshopped, dramaturged and directed by professional industry practitioners, and shown to an audience at Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku. The response was exactly what the company and its writers were looking for – recognition, praise and encouragement to further develop the plays into full length works, to be staged as separate productions over 2011.
Kingdom of Lote is the second of these plays, invited to be staged as part of the annual Pacific Arts Summit. I was one of the mentors of the Young Kila Writers Programme, and am producing the debut season of it for the Pacific Arts Summit. I am joined by Vela Manusaute and Anapela Polataivao who are directing the play, and Suli Moa, the playwright who also acts in Kingdom of Lote alongside a very talented cast of actors, singers and dancers.
How important is it to present this work in South Auckland?
It’s important that this work is put on, full stop, it’s the first of its kind, being written by a Tongan, starring a full Tongan cast speaking English and Tongan dialogue and performing traditional Tongan song and Dance. The fact that it is being staged in South Auckland gives the community added accessibility; there is not the long haul to the city, the hassle of traffic and parking etc. Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku is in the heart of South Auckland. I love the fact that there are carparks, markets and A-Way a stones-throw away from where we are putting on the show.
What can audiences look forward to in this unique work?
For Tongan audiences, it’s the chance to see their culture, their language, their stories played onstage. For non-Tongans, the chance to get an insight into the richness of the Tongan culture. The story has the perfect mix of comedic and dramatic moments, song, dance, everything! Come and find out!
It has been so exciting to see the Young Kila Writers programme evolve, what does the future hold for this exciting initiative?
Young Kila Writers was such an amazing project, it enabled us to create work for actors and playwrights, expose raw talent, and collectively grow as a company. The third installment of the Young Kila plays, Fatu to Fatu by Tavai Faasavalu, is on at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in December. The plan is to run another season of Young Kila Writers in 2012, and as for the work that has already been created, in terms of further developing the work, touring it, the sky’s the limit.
Vinaka vakalevu Stacey!
What: KINGDOM OF LOTE – A new play by Suli Moa
Where: Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Corner of Bader Drive and Orly Avenue, Mangere, South Auckland
When: 7.30pm, 17-21 May
Tickets: $15 / $20
Enquiries + Bookings: Call Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku on 09 262 5789