Whitireia lecturer Tupe Lualua will showcase a new work this week during the Measina Festival, which opened on Tuesday at Whitireia Theatre.
The festival is a celebration of Samoan culture, language and stories through dance, music and theatre. It is presented by Jandals Inc. and Le Moana, in association with Te Rakau Trust, and hosted by Whitireia.
Jandals Inc, and Le Moana, both of which were set up by Whitireia Performing Arts graduates including Lualua, co-produced the first ever Measina Festival last year to coincide with Samoan Language Week. It was a sold-out success and the overwhelming community response led to the decision to turn the endeavour into an annual event.
"We noticed that a lot of our local Samoan communities had never been to the theatre before," said Lualua. "This provided them with an introduction through stories of their homeland and the chance to support local performers."
The festival has expanded this year to include seven shows, increasing the variety of performances on offer and broadening its reach into more communities. The performances are presented by Samoan practitioners from Wellington City, Porirua and the Hutt, many of whom have worked with the likes of Black Grace, Te Rakau, Tawata Productions, The Conch, Pani & Pani, Paris Goebel and others.
Lualua's piece, '1918', was choreographed by Whitireia Performing Arts graduate and Black Grace dancer Andy Faiaoga, and explores the effects on Samoa of the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918.
"I was inspired to create some kind of movement in a lecture during my master's studies last year," said Lualua. "I was also inspired by the memories passed on by my grandmother, who was four years old when the Spanish Influenza swept through Samoa. Some of the worst effects of the epidemic were felt there," she said. "Within four weeks 25 percent of the population was wiped out."
Tickets to the Measina Festival can be purchased from Whitireia by visiting www.thetheatre.co.nz.
For more information please visit www.measinafestival.com.