A new book written by University of Otago Associate Prof in Theatre Studies Lisa Warrington and Victoria University Associate Prof David O’ Donnell, tells the story of the first 30 years of Pasifika Theatre in New Zealand.
Floating Islanders Pasifika Theatre in Aotearoa looks at the development of Pasifika theatre in New Zealand and celebrates the achievements of the Pasifika artisits who have been involved in theatre in the last 30 years.
To do the book justice they met and interviewed practitioners whose heritage lies in Samoa, Niue, Fiji, Tonga, Tokelau and the Cook Islands – to let the voices of the artists come through in the book.
”We knew we wanted to actively include the voices of Pasifika theatre practitioners. It was never our intention to speak for the artists, but to enter into a dialogue.”
The immigrant experience of living in two worlds is often seen as troubled, but co-author Lisa Warrington says this ‘in-between-ness’ has been turned to advantage in Pasifika theatre to create unique and often subversive performances.
“Pasifika theatre has become a major platform of expression for stories of the Pacific diaspora, with themes such as migration, family, cultural identity and the questioning of stereotypes,” says Warrington.
Not only is Pasifika theatre a success story within the performing arts in New Zealand, it is also an intriguing case study of migrant theatre that has international resonance, says co-author David O’Donnell.
“These artists are part of a larger movement of Pasifika creativity in visual arts, music, film, television and literature. They demonstrate creative energy, humour and enterprise, and embrace collective creation and cross-cultural input.”