14 Malone Road
13/09/2023 - 15/09/2023
Created by: Tupua Tigafua
Headlining the Measina Festival is Award Winning Choreographer Tupua Tigafua with his latest presentation of 14 Malone Road.
14 Malone Road, Mt Wellington is the Housing Corporation of New Zealand (1983) property that Tupua’s family lived in and where his passion for dance and music was cultivated throughout his childhood. A melting pot of Pacific and Asian diaspora living alongside the urban Māori migration, Malone Road represented diversity, hope and endless possibilities. Where a young Samoan boy, his brothers and sister could practise everyday to jump in the arena and become the neighbourhood chatter rings champions and rush home whenever possible to keep refining their performance craft in the hopes of one day making it big, really big…..in the BIG FRESH talent quest.
14 Malone Road, is an ode to the old neighbourhoods of Aotearoa, which are slowly starting to disappear with property development throughout the country. As children of the Pacific Islands migration, these neighbourhood’s were our foundation, the first layer of cultural and social education informing how we would dream and navigate the rest of the world. This work is a nostalgic reference to a current circumstance and utilising modern theatre to evolve Tupua’s unique style of creative storytelling.
Featuring a stellar cast of Artists:
Andy Tilo-Faiaoga, Aloali’i Tapu, Aisea Latu, Onetoto Ikavuka, Villa Lemanu and Tupua Tigafua. 14 Malone Road, is an ode to the bygone neighbourhoods of Aotearoa
Pātaka Art + Museum: 17 Parumoana Street, Porirua 5022
Performing Arts Studio
Wednesday 13 September
7:00PM – 8:00PM
Thursday 14 September
1:00PM – 2:00PM
7:00PM – 8:00PM
Friday 15 September
11:00AM – 12:00PM
7:00PM – 8:00PM
From the theatreview workshop last week Saturday 02 September, we would like to specifically request Kepe Usoali’i and Phil S. Frost to review this work.
Tupe Lualua - Producer
Lisa Maule - Production Manager
Elekis Poblete - Lighting Designer
Ryelee Sa - Stage Manager
Brett Taefu: Costume Stylist
Cast: Andy Tilo-Faiaoga, Aloali'i Tapu, Aisea Latu, Onetoto Ikavuka, Villa Lemanu and Tupua Tigafua
The organic synergy of rich experiences evoked provokes memories for the audience
Review by Kepe Usoali'i 23rd Sep 2023
Breaking the tension of anticipation, Tupe Lualua’s voice gently guides our attention to the empty stage. A few house keepings that are really important but easily missed. I generally tune out when listening to the flight attendant’s safety speech, usually too focused on the destination ahead. For some of the speech she speaks Te Reo and I think, “fuck I need to get on my Te Reo journey”. It is fitting given it is Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori, and the obvious fact that Ngāti Toa has provided this space for us tonight. As tangata moana to tangata whenua, I hope Fasito’o Tai one day will be just as graceful when presented with the opportunity to host Māori. Again, really important but easily missed.
I enjoy the foreground of Pataka Museum’s cold lighting from the ‘Exit’ signs breaking through the black walls of the set which contrast the warm lighting of the empty centre stage. Building compliance meets lighting design is something I can only guess is taken into artistic consideration.
Clapping by himself, Onetoto Ikavuka, strolls on to the stage to warm up the audience and casually throws out a quick joke that hits. You know that crowd control charm that every good MC has, I find it very natural in our collective communities because we know how to connect. A familiar skill you witness or perform, it’s an art that I’m glad isn’t being taking for granted as we watch these professionals.
Once the crowd is ready, he introduces Andy Tilo-Faiaoga to take the stage. His vocals cradle the audience’s attention and before you know it, that warm lighting that was centre stage is absorbed by his presence with the spotlight on him which accentuates his performance. Yeah I see you Elekis Poblete.
Ricky Nelson then plays in the background as Andy takes to the middle of the dark stage to spin around. A playful gesture that any toddler could do, but with each step impressively quicker than the last it becomes a physical feat. Almost eerie to see the composure held as he spins at such a pace for such a duration. I realise that Lonesome Town and Marvin’s Room are the same place. Always looking at them for wisdom and strength, I forget that my elders have the capacity for heartbreak. The spinning is low-key spiralling me into a depression and I wish to drunkenly stagger off stage like Andy as well.
Onetoto Ikavuka and the cast brighten the room with an appropriate pick-me-up dance. Very obscure and playful movements applied clinically provide an interesting comedic relief. The cast works together to hold it together, with the costumes giving range within the household. Costume Stylist Brett Taefu adorns the casts with pieces borrowed from your cousin that you will never give back and overalls from dad that you will need to return clean before his shift. We know who we will be holding it down for when we win the Lotto.
In the next act, Villa Lemanu performs a familiar riddle that requires him to pull out the projector. The chatter rings around his neck also act as accessory to the past and the nostalgia confronts me that I am getting old. Simple yet effective gestures bring the 2D riddle to life.
The cast are shelled by grandma’s quilts and shuffle around on stage in the dark. You ever seen a crippled mogamoga dance like the ballet as if its life depended on it? Aloali’i Tapu gives the common cockroach its flowers in a wholesome performance. This unlocks a memory of when I found a baby cockroach in the pot of kokolaise that my grandma had made. She plucked it out and served me a bowl with a smile.
The toko Aisea Latu casually strikes a conversation in Tongan with the crowd and MMT politely respond. Teaching us to tend to the plantation, he returns the talo to the whenua to grow, which will guide him when returning to the moana to rest. It is the subtleness in the pacing of this act and relatability to this character that reveals how precious life is. Malo ‘aupito.
A voice memo plays of what I presume to be Tupua Tigafua’s parents reminiscing on their last 30+ years at 14 Malone Road. I would have liked to seen their Goat Simba. Tupua takes to the front stage working a shift moving all the Little Boxes of Mavina Reynolds. He dances with the song and not to the song. A product of his environment, his talent is shown through the atmosphere he brings to theatre.
In the closing act, Onetoto Ikavuka’s voice soothes us by covering Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand by your Man’. He sings “Sometimes it’s hard to be a women / Giving all your love to just one man,” and a women in the audience replies, “Period!”. The cast breaks out into a light-hearted musical over the Malvina Reynolds song ‘We Don’t Need The Men’. A nod to the women of 14 Malone Road and those who have contributed to the show. Shout out to Ryelee Sa (Stage Manager), Lisa Maule (Production Manager), and Tupe Lualua (Producer).
Tupua’s genuineness really shows through his work. The consciousness of the audience is an extension of his vision, he’s watched us watch him a thousand times before he has even performed, but it is not our eyes that he panders too nor his own, it is a higher calling of the organic synergy of those who experienced the richness of 14 Malone Road first-hand.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
A profoundly moving transformative experience
Review by Philip S Frost 14th Sep 2023
My dashboard clock reads 18:45 as I park up outside Te Rauparaha Arena. About a few hundred metres away, two cop cars, three officers, and a group of youths are engaging in conversation. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Still, I scan the car park to ensure my vehicle is in a well-lit area, just in case. I quickly notice how full it is. My mind eases. Meanwhile, people by the dozen flock past, towards the Library. They walk through the sliding door entrance where they’re greeted by a not-so-enthusiastic security guard directing foot traffic. Good, I know where to go. The clock ticks over.
18:46. It’s been a very long day, work has been busy, and if anything, I am not in the slightest mood to attend a show. At least not a contemporary dance performance. Yet, with a curious mixture of scepticism, intrigue, and a sudden realisation that I have never been to a live contemporary production, I find myself drawn to the venue, where at the very least the promise of an evening’s escape awaits. Little do I know, the hour or so ahead of me is going to be a transformative experience that will challenge my preconceptions and leave me profoundly moved.
Inside, the lobby is bustling with attendees, some chatting animatedly, while others mill around exchanging knowing glances with their companions, mutual friends, families and other familiar faces. Here I am alone, roaming through the crowd avoiding eye contact as the soft hum of conversation and the occasional burst of laughter fill the air, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie. I make it to the ticket desk where a friendly staff member greets me with a warm smile and leads me straight into the theatre. As I enter, I am greeted by ambient lights and an usher instructing myself and others to fill up the back row seats first. I smile and adhere, eyes adjusting in the low light.
When I’m finally in my seat, it’s uncomfortable but that feeling fades as I catch my first glimpse of the open floor layout in front of me, somewhat reminiscent of a black-box setup. Several black stage curtains hang from some sort of track system and extra lights partially illuminate the foreground. A minute goes by and crowds of people start pouring in until all seats are full. In attendance is a diverse mix of ethnicities, genders, and ages. We are mostly strangers to one another yet we’re now connected by a mutual feeling of anticipation. There’s no turning back now, we’ve committed to being here. A familiar voice reads out some very important house rules. No photos, no filming, no way to verify being there, I guess. Then there’s that very peculiar moment where one can only assume with the excited audience quietening down and the lights dimming, that the show is about to commence.
Tonight, the Measina Festival unveils its most anticipated event created by the award-winning choreographer Tupua Tigafua. In a moment, we will be immersed in an evocative presentation of 14 Malone Road. This sentimentally stirring performance, held at the Pātaka Art + Museum, transports the audience to the 1990s, a time when physical interaction was more coveted than today’s digital internet, when ‘x’ number of friends defined wealth, not the other way around, and streetlights were clocks.
The opening act, Onetoto Ikavuka, emerges from the right side of the stage and immediately engages with the audience, effortlessly inspiring everyone (including myself) to break into spontaneous applause, accompanied by laughter. We’re only seconds into the performance, and the crowd is already captivated by this charming display. However, the moment is cut short as fellow performer, Andy Tilo-Faiaoga, is introduced and proceeds to captivate the audience with a slow ballad. After the song concludes, Ikavuka returns, joined by the rest of the cast, for an original number that blends movement, humour and a sense of nostalgia, enchanting the entire room. The audience bursts into laughter, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Over the next 30-40 minutes, we are treated to an ingenious lineup of enthralling performances by the rest of this talented cast. In order of appearance, Villa Lemanu amuses us with an old tech gadget and some matchstick magic — a moment of interactive brilliance that involves a cleverly devised puzzle and a special guest appearance by a childhood favourite for many millennials: the chatter rings.
Next, we are graced with the talent of Aloali’i Tapu, whose performance seems to pay homage to the common household cockroach. This segment resonates deeply with me, as these social insects were regular, unwelcome guests in our home when I was a child. And no matter how often we attempted to eradicate them, they always seemed to return and multiply.
Following this, Aisea Latu delivers an emotionally charged performance, accompanied by a beautiful song that transports the audience to a profound place. It touches on memories, thoughts and the unconditional love of parents, along with the desire to return to the home most of us knew only as children. Latu captures it eloquently, saying, “You go East, you go West, but home is always the best.”
On that note, this show is about a ‘home’, specifically, 14 Malone Road. And so far notable themes such as ‘Home and Identity’, ‘Nostalgia and Memory’, and ‘Transformation and Growth’ are present. Add to that the emotions expressed throughout, which heavily resonate, as if the cast are speaking a universal language that transcends words, communicating directly with our hearts and souls.
Interestingly enough, there are those who immediately relate to or connect with the performances and those who embark on a journey to uncover what’s communicated through movement. Each person will form their own opinion or ideas. That is the beauty of this piece. It is open to interpretation. What will it mean to you?
As I become engrossed in the performance, my initial scepticism and weariness are nowhere to be found. My fellow audience members and I are left in a state of entrancement, collectively held spellbound by the sheer artistry we’ve just witnessed. Just when it seems the show might be coming to an end, the man of the hour, the driving force behind this captivating production performs a solo.
In this pivotal moment, he embodies the essence of the entire performance. His solo act is nothing short of mesmerizing, a masterful display of skill and passion. In that instant, it becomes abundantly clear that this theatre is more than just a venue for a performance — it’s his domain, his realm of artistic expression. Right here, right now, this is 14 Malone Road.
As he and his extremely talented crew take their final bows, the audience erupts with applause – a fitting tribute to the man who has skilfully guided us through an evening of emotion, laughter and nostalgia. I realise that I am part of something special, something that transcends the ordinary and elevates the spirit. I gaze down at my phone, the time is 20:08. It’s been a very long day, work has been busy and right now, I am not in the slightest mood to ‘leave’ this show. The transformative experience promised at the beginning of the evening has indeed come to fruition, leaving me profoundly moved and forever changed by the beauty and emotion of contemporary dance.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer