Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

16/03/2012 - 17/03/2012

Production Details

“I’ve been a teen parent, and a parent of teenagers. This is my ode to teenage hood and their mums. It never ceases to amaze me the great joy and sorrow in creating such beauty.” – Dianna Fuemana

BIRDS, an urban story told through the eyes of a young Niue boy growing up in Auckland€’s Avondale Hood-Lands.

Tommy likes to dance the hip-hop, has a mad crush on the lead Kapa Haka girl at school and believes he can kung fu the biggest bully terrorizing the local Riversdale Park. But Moka has different plans for Tommy. Moka wants him to wake up on time for school, go to university and learn things Niue. Two wills collide but both must win in order to fly like the BIRDS. Shining a light on the bond between son and mother within a small community, BIRDS gives flight to the voices of the hood.

Dianna Fuemana created BIRDS for world premier at the Niue Arts Festival, 22 – 29th April 2011. A master at story telling and performance, her work includes internationally acclaimed and award winning works Mapaki and The Packer. In 2010 Fuemana was the winner of the NZ International Festival of the Arts ‘Once Upon a Deadline’ competition and was nominated for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Los Angeles, International’. Her repertoire of plays produced includes Jingle Bells, My Mother Dreaming and Falemalama. Dianna is this year’s recipient of Script to Screen, KILLER Films screenwriting intern in New York. Dianna resides in west Auckland.

Ali Foa’i graduated from UNITEC’s Performing Arts School as an actor in 2006. Upon graduating he appeared in the drama series Ride with the Devil. His recent screen credits include Diplomatic Immunity and Shortland Street. Foa’i made his professional stage debut in 2008 at the Pacific Arts Festival in Pago Pago, Amerika Samoa, in Fuemana’s play FALEMALAMA. He toured with the work in Auckland, Niue and Toronto. Ali resides in central Auckland.

And introducing Nora A’ati.

Nora graduated from UNITEC’s Performing and Screen Arts in 2006. Her theatre work includes Dianna Fuemana’s one woman show ‘Mapaki’, ‘Lena’, ATC’s ‘My name is Gary Cooper’ and ‘Where we once belonged’ , Killa Kokonut Krew’s ‘Once were Samoans’ staged in Auckland and Brisbane, ‘Aukalofa monologues’ and a world tour of ‘Vula’. She also featured in the short film ‘Like Milk’, ‘Land of Milk & honey’ and TV series ‘Ride with the Devil’.

newwayinTHEATRE is presenting a community theatre season of BIRDS in Mangere for four performances only. With the support of the Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, a facility of Auckland Council, the performances are offered free for the community – as a way for parents, teenagers and families to experience a piece of new, contemporary New Zealand theatre from this acclaimed playwright and young cast.

VENUE- Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Mangere, Auckland
DATES – March 16 and 17, 2012
TIMES – 12.30pm and 6pm
COST- FREE Performances 

Starring:  Ali Foa’i and Nora A’ati
Proudly supported by the Pacific Committee Creative New Zealand 

Real, Raw and Revealing

Review by Sharu Delilkan 17th Mar 2012

It was like déjà vu arriving at The Mangere Arts Centre, from Avondale, only to be thrust back into the thick of my own neighbourhood.

Set in Avondale, Birds incorporates the suburb’s iconic sites – Avondale Community Centre, Hollywood Cinema, Rosebank Road and Riversdale Reserve. These brilliantly selected audio-visuals, laced with witticism and whimsy, help create an effective fourth dimension.

Brave, insightful, poignant, real, raw and revealing are adjectives that come to mind when describing the new work Birds. [More


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Dynamic physical theatre

Review by Grant Hall 17th Mar 2012

Birds, written and directed by Dianna Fuemana, is a dramatic, topical and fast paced urban story of a Niuean mother and son living in Avondale, Auckland. Fuemana shines a mirror on what life is like for a teenager entering adulthood and his mother, a solo parent who struggles to guide them through turbulent stages of their life together.

This mirror Fuemana shines produces a colourful, physical and powerfully insightful slice of suburban social realism, Niuean style. The story is tight, well directed and told mostly by means of monologue with short integrated periods of dialogue. The play is a successful blend of light and shade, humour and poignant drama.

Fuemana adopts the methodology of physical theatre to help propel the story and this suits the content and urban context of the play. This technique allows the inherent and dynamic movement abilities of the two actors to shine.

The primary power of this play is with the acting. It transports the story as it dances, prances, jumps and shouts. The performers thrust the narrative in your face, like graffiti, like the wail of a siren, like a good hiding and even like a rock-filled poi!

Ali Foa’i plays a very believable Tommy and array of other characters, which he expresses and weaves into his performance with skill. He manages to communicate angst and passion in a persuasive and realistic manner, without going over the top, which would run the risk of rendering his central character a stereotypical caricature. Another highlight is his portrayal of Tommy’s infatuation, Ngahuia, that he handles with effeminate streetwise aplomb.

Nora A’ati is a very convincing mum, auntie and an eclectic united nations of characters from the multicultural world of Avondale. Her portrayal of Moka though is pivotal, as it is central to the narrative tension, and she deals it up, serves us with a dose of domestic and maternal reality. Like her counterpart Foa’i in this two hander, she navigates the transitions between a significant list of characters, in monologue and dialogue, in an adept, mature way.

Both actors should be congratulated on their performances.

The set and lighting is minimal with only two props: fluorescent pink and blue spray cans which are sprayed to good effect! The show features a central projection screen on which is shown a montage of urban and domestic imagery as well as a series of New Zealand Niuean statistics.

The A-V content, which is mostly supportive in creating an urbanised and site-specific context, could be further developed and integrated more successfully within the play’s narrative. The lighting is simple and particularly effective in theNiueIslandreflections.

Birds is based firmly within a Niuen perspective, though its central themes of cultural detachment and societal conflict are universal within the general Pacific Island diaspora existing in New Zealand. The play is another new and important piece of Pacific theatre that proclaims significance and relevance alongside a strong growing foundation of contemporary Pacific stories.

This play is well worth taking in, it’s worth the hop, skip and jump to Mangere Arts Centre and if you cant make it to this short season, keep an eye out for it as I am confident it will, like the Birds of its title, migrate to a venue near you in the near future.


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