Pātaka Art + Museum, 17 Parumoana Street, Porirua

03/12/2016 - 03/12/2016

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

17/03/2018 - 19/03/2018

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

05/06/2018 - 09/06/2018

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

08/10/2020 - 08/10/2020

Hamilton Gardens, Medici Court, Hamilton

02/03/2024 - 02/03/2024

Measina Festival 2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2018 [reviewing supported by WCC]

NZ Improv Festival 2020: Close To Home

Kia Mau Festival 2018

Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa 2024

Production Details

Kasiano Mita

The Measina Festival proudly present Talofa Papa, originally staged in the Body of Works season at Whitireia New Zealand during October 2016.

A moving, thought provoking and hilariously clever work by graduating student Kasiano Mita.  With a strong Interest in physical theatre and audience participation, Kasiano takes the stage in the role of Grandpa, an elderly Samoan man enjoying a visit from his grandchildren on the event of their beloved Grandmother’s birthday.

Mita effortlessly weaves together iconic themes of the early Sāmoan diaspora with visual and theatrical aesthetics offering a captivating piece of theatre to entertain all ages.

PĀTAKA Art + Museum, Porirua
Saturday, 3 December, 12 noon & 6pm
Event prices range between $5-$15
Tickets can be purchased from http://www.ticketdirect.co.nz/event/season/1429
More information can be found by visiting https://measinafestival.org/

NZ Fringe 2018

After a successful development showing at the 2017 Measina Festival, Talofa Papa is back in Wellington, bringing a slice of Samoan culture to BATS Theatre.

Created and performed by Kasiano Mita, come along to reminisce with Papa about family, culture and being sent to the naughty corner by your grandparents.

“…Its simple story draws us into its heart-warming subjective reality, with a sure and subtle skill.” John Smythe – Theatreview

*Access to The Heyday Dome is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome
17 – 19 March at 7pm
Full Price $16 | Concession Price $13
Fringe Addict Cardholder $12

Kia Mau 2018

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome (return season)
5 – 9 June 2018

NZ Improv Fest 2020: Close to Home

Talofa Papa joins NZ Improv Fest as a work not traditionally considered improv – but one that embraces spontaneity and highlights the huge crossovers between what we consider theatre vs improv. We’re thrilled to host it for 2020!

NZ Improv Fest invites lovers of improvised theatre everywhere to join us in celebrating the art form we all know and love this 3-11 October, from wherever
you are and wherever you’re at. Join us in Wellington, or connect with us online, in a celebration of world class, local talent!

8 October at 8pm

NZ Improv Fest: Close To Home takes place at BATS Theatre
Performance programme 6-10 October 2020
Workshops 3, 4, 10 October 2020
Learn more at www.improvfest.nz and don’t miss a moment!

Hamilton Arts Festival 2024
Medici Court, Hamilton Gardens,
Saturday 2 March 2024 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Buy Tickets 

Theatre , Solo , Physical ,

50 mins

Connection made despite separation and absence

Review by Lyndon Hood 09th Oct 2020

Talofa Papa appears in the 2020 NZ Improv Festival as an ‘improv adjacent’ work – one that “embraces spontaneity and highlights the huge crossovers between what we consider theatre vs improv”. A one-off revival of Kasiano Mita’s award-winning 2018 Fringe show, it sees the festival step between cultures as well as disciplines.  

It’s fair to say that among local improv audiences and performers white people are strongly represented and Pasifika people are not. As the audience for Talofa Papa fills BATS’ Dome venue (all wearing the ula lole necklaces of fruit bursts we were presented with on arrival) it’s clear there are a lot of brown faces – a welcome addition to festival audiences and, it turns out, necessary support for an extremely Samoan show.

Papa is already here, elderly, bulb-nosed, quietly chatting with the audience. The stage is set up as his living room, a Cook Islands cloth over the table and a woven plastic mat on the floor. As the show starts in earnest, it quickly becomes clear he has cast us all as extended family, assembled for a celebration. The way he expects us to know the purpose of that celebration, and to be able to tell him, is the beginning of many games he plays with the audience.  

The ‘embrace of spontaneity’ is obvious: the audience is fully part of the show. Papa wholly dominates the room, but at every step Mita is open to responses and reactions and weaves them into his performance.

One reaction he relies on is care and deference for age. Mita’s meticulous and never-lapsing characterisation of an aging patriarch, in body and voice and attitude, seems crafted to produce reflexive compliance in his targets. Where there is risk of being denied, his commands are backed up by what’s possibly the friendliest Hard Stare I’ve ever seen. 

He uses the power shamelessly. Bent over his stick, his slow and careful shuffle is also that of a man unstoppably coming to mess with you, absolutely sure someone will help him up any stairs that get in his way.

Minutes into the show he has a collection of audience members on stage, starting with some cheeky boys (or men) who talked back to his questions, then adding those he casts as specific family members. All of them sitting on the combination naughty corner and seat of honour that is the floor mat. 

Part of the preparation is making sure the audience is ready to take part in the celebration. Papa has his new assistants take us through practice runs of prayer, song and dance. These demonstrations make for a celebration of Samoan culture, doubly so as Papa shows us the roots are strong. He can speak to a young man in the audience and know that young man can sing – and voices around the room will join in. He can choose a young woman from the audience and know that, while she desperately – almost painfully – tries to avoid demonstrating the “contemporary dance” skill he assigns to her, she can show the audience how to dance siva

And for some of us it’s a warm education, an introduction to Samoan culture and life – and a display of the power of shared culture that stands behind community. Also, I myself have never had a benignly unstoppable Samoan grandfather and I can tell you, even out of the firing line, it is a rollercoaster ride.

It’s grandma’s birthday we are celebrating. We sing her happy birthday (Manuia lou aso fānau…). She is brought on stage in an urn. It’s a sudden beginning to a more earnest thread – though there’s still room for Papa to ask for help with his coat and then, by dropping his full weight onto his cane, chairs and his assistants, make taking the thing off hilariously difficult. At the height of the gathering Papa has relentlessly prepared, he brings us all together and has us each think about our family, our people – about love. 

At the last, as Papa dances, whispering to the ashes of his wife, the scene fades into traditional theatre. We sit quietly, watching through that invisible wall, with Papa alone – apart from a nurse who visits him there. I think of the grandparental refrain of “why don’t you come to see me more often?” – a half joke repeated through the show – in a more serious light. 

The separation, the absence, and the loss are more poignant because of how strongly he was with us before. But the fact is we are still there. A connection remains. It always does.  


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Generous inclusiveness

Review by Margaret Austin 06th Jun 2018

The Papa of this show’s title has a large family, and we’re all at the BATS Heyday Dome to celebrate something special with him. Many of the audience members share the same culture as the performer; all of us are welcomed in Samoan tradition.

Papa himself, played by Kasiano Mita, is elderly, suited, hatted and needing a stick to walk. The lightness of his voice contrasts strongly with his absolute command of his audience/family.

Indeed, family is unashamedly and uniquely the theme of what we are to experience. We are, it transpires, his grandchildren, and here to celebrate the birthday of his wife, our grandmother.

There is distribution of party hats and whistles, the producing of a non-existent cake, a Samoan dance, and the mass singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ in English and Samoan.

A darkened stage for the second half of Talofa Papa signifies its underlying poignancy.  Grandmother does not appear; nevertheless her presence permeates.

I hesitate to call this a ‘performance’, but that is not a criticism. Kasiano Mita, who was acclaimed as the most outstanding performer of the 2018 Fringe Festival, has created and shared a cultural experience remarkable for its generosity and inclusiveness. 


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Sure, subtle and heart-warming

Review by John Smythe 04th Dec 2016

Had the space at Pātaka Art + Museum not been shared by The Measina Festival’s four dance works and three theatre pieces, Talofa Papa might have been staged more intimately. Yet the remote pools of light occupied by the table and four chairs, and The Mat, are somehow appropriate for Kasiano Mita’s minimalist evocation of the titular Papa.

Formally suited complete with a hat, stooped, bow-legged, leaning heavily on a stick and accompanied by a young man with a cake, he has made a slow progress through a crowded foyer abuzz with festival goers. Once we are seated in the serried ranks of chairs, as the strains of ‘Sentimental Journey’ drift about us, his progress towards the table is equally slow.

En route he acknowledges us and asks for a greeting. His voice is light and thin, in direct counterpoint to the implicit high status he clearly commands in this community. It emerges we are his grandchildren, come to visit on a very special day.

Papa’s soft but determined requests and questions are followed by a countdown – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and failure to comply or answer correctly consigns the miscreant to The Mat. There is an amused knowingness in the audience and those thus disciplined obey while quietly smiling. 

The young man, TJ, who carried the cake, leads the ‘Mili Mili’ commands in the clapping sequence that warms us up more, not that a full sasa ensues. When Sina offers a requested prayer in Māori, TJ is asked to translate it into Samoan, and does, which is impressive to a monolingual palagi like me. As we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in English then Samoan, the ‘birthday girl’ is brought on, in an urn.

A growing poignancy permeates proceedings as grandchildren are asked to talk to their grandma, and as Papa dances with a ‘mat sitter’ to ‘The Hawaiian Wedding Song’, shares his pride in the grandchildren with the urn, then gently sings ‘Fi Ufi Ufi’.

It has taken a while to realise that what has seemed – to a seasoned theatregoer – like the prelude to a ‘play proper’ actually is the play, conveying its simple story and drawing us into its heart-warming subjective reality, with a sure and subtle skill.

A male nurse tells Papa we, his grandchildren, won’t be back until Christmas and who knows when Talofa Papa will play again. A 20 minute snippet, it played just twice in the now complete Measina Festival.


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