Pātaka Art + Museum, 17 Parumoana Street, Porirua

01/12/2016 - 03/12/2016

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

09/08/2016 - 13/08/2016

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

29/08/2017 - 02/09/2017

Measina Festival 2016

Production Details

A black comedy set in the diaspora of the largest Polynesian city in the world.  

Thirsty is a series of gritty stories and characters of Polynesian youth in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, today. From the hot, horny clubs of Southside, cruising the bogan streets of Westie Aukilani, tapping into the phone lines of desperate teens in Central, and prying into the privileged lives of socialites on the North Shore. 

Everybody has that thirst that needs quenching.

BATS Theatre: The Propeller Stage
9 – 13 August at 6:30pm

*The Propeller Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; 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.

“His range from lightly feminine Pasifika girl to powerfully masculine Māori man is impressive” John Smythe, Theatreview

PATAKA Art + Museum, Porirua
Thursday 1 December & Friday 2 December at 7.30pm
Saturday, 3 December at 8pm
Event prices range between $5-$15
Tickets can be purchased from
More information can be found by visiting

Basement Theatre Studio, Auckland
29 August – 2 September 2017

Theatre , Solo ,

45 mins

Leaves this reviewer thirsty too

Review by Gabriel Faatau'uu Satiu 01st Sep 2017

Thirsty is a one man show written and performed by Ali Foa’i. It follows multiple characters, giving the audience a glimpse of various stereotypes in Auckland. The theme which Foa’i explores is universal: a ‘thirst’ to be accepted. The story also touches on white privilege and political problems with the current NZ Welfare system.

The show opens with ‘Hot Gossip’ which is an online adult chat room. Foa’i transitions between the various characters you’d typically meet online. The characters are thirsty to meet other online potential lovers for one night stands and/or long term relationships. The scene ends in Foa’i’s impersonation of a trans-character named Tyra, a young woman looking to meet the man of her dreams.

Foa’i also hones in on late night conversations between Tyra and Devonte, a straight male living in South Auckland. He is upset that he hasn’t received pictures of Tyra, who [spoiler alert] reveals to the audience that she is known at school as a boy named Siaosi. Eventually, the two meet at David Lange Park in Mangere. Devonte is confronted by Tyra, learns the truth – and his angry reaction upsets Tyra. It’s heartbreaking to watch. A very bold depiction of how one trans experience plays out, this scene highlights Tyra’s desire to quench her thirst not only to be identified as a woman but also to have a man at her side to be complete. [ends]

Along a different journey, Foa’i takes us to a queue at WINZ via Amosa, who has been laid off from his job and is now heavily dependent on the welfare to get by. Amosa talks about the embarrassment of begging for money and questions his case manager, Tiale – a Samoan who prides himself on his knowledge of tikanga Māori. Amosa begs Tiale for a food grant, but doesn’t qualify because he doesn’t have dependents. Amosa’s thirst is for acceptance in the system and in society. 

As the story unfolds, we meet Veronica: a white privileged student who attends St Christians and lives on the North Shore. Foa’i delves into this character by performing an assembly-like speech. Veronica is aware of her privilege and is casually racist by singling out the cultural minorities. Foa’i’s performance is commendable as Veronica sings the Samoan song ‘Minoi Minoi Minoi’ in high-pitched operatic mode with extremely bad pronunciation of the Samoan lyrics. The song is followed by a thankyou speech in Māori, which also is pronounced incorrectly.

Veronica has this urge to get down and dirty in the Southside. She has jungle fever (as described in the programme) and wants to quench her thirst for brown guys. Veronica eventually ends up at Apia Way, a nightclub based in Mangere. This aspect of the story highlights a palagi woman fetishizing brown men, creating the illusion that all Pacific men are exotic and animal-like. Veronica meets Amosa in the nightclub, and although we don’t see it, her thirst for brown Pacific men is quenched.

In the final scene, [spoiler alert] Veronica is pregnant and is at the front of the WINZ queue. She has been kicked out of home and Amosa (along with his family) has kindly taken her in. They are both confronted by Tiale, the case manager who turned Amosa away. Although she is stripped of her ‘North Shore’ privileges, she seems to have accepted her life moving forward with Amosa. [ends] In this scene, we also learn about Pacific men, and the power of the privilege they hold. Although they may not have much, they are far more forgiving and willing to accept you no matter what, regardless of the privileges you have or don’t.

I like the transitions between each individual character. Although they highlight stereotypes, the stories are resolved and necessary to the theme of thirst – the want to be accepted. Foa’i occasionally acts out the female characters similarly, making it slightly difficult to decipher the difference at times.

I leave the theatre wanting more, which could be the intention and irony of Thirsty


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Impressive vocal and physical command

Review by Margaret Austin 02nd Dec 2016

Written and performed by Ali Foa’i, Thirsty offers its audience 40 minutes of Mangere. 

Minimalist staging and skilful lighting enhance a cast of characters inhabited with remarkable facility by their creator. Male or female, masculine or feminine – Ali knows them, loves them, and enacts them.

We meet Tara, who is into brown boys with hot bodies. And Amos, a strawberry picker who needs a benefit. And then there’s Veronica, newly voted in as head girl of St Christian’s College, giving her maiden speech.

Ali’s vocal and physical command is impressive, and audience enjoyment is derived chiefly from this. Equally impressive, however, is his transition from light hearted to tragic – a phone sex client is horrified on meeting in the flesh the object of his desire, and Veronica, who met Amos dancing in a club, falls pregnant. Her fall from grace, accompanied by her man, is poignant. 

It’s all too easy for a one person show to be self-indulgent, unstructured, and rambling. Thirsty is none of these. It’s a theatrical tour de force by a confident, practised artist. 


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Impressive skills bode well for potential

Review by John Smythe 10th Aug 2016

The premise of Ali Foa’i’s solo show, presented as a development season at BATS, is that “Everybody has that thirst that needs quenching.” And lots of bodies are manifested in Foa’i’s virtuoso performance, demonstrating the skills last seen in Wellington a couple of years ago in Dianna Fuemana’s Birds.

An actor graduate of INITEC’s Performing Arts School, Foa’i is now completing a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. His facility with street-smart dialogue is also impressive – e.g. (as exemplified in BATS’s Guano blurb): “Veronica: I effen love that Samoan tattoo on your arm, its sexy asf, what’s your snapchat, wanna get lit? | Amos: (under his breath) Thirsty.”

Given the range of archetypes who pop up initially in the chat-room of Tyra “from the Dirty South” of Aukilani, and are personified elsewhere in Tamaki Makaurau, it takes a while to get the hang of whose stories are threading through the 45-minute show. But once “Spanish with a little bit of Tongan” Tyra exchanges her ‘stats’ with “rugged and pretty toned” Devonte, we sense this story may go somewhere – and it does.

We first meet Amosa after he’s been made redundant from his fruit packing job and has to undergo the shame of applying for an unemployment benefit. His Samoan Case Manager, Tiali, is a Māori ‘took in’ who prides himself in knowing tikanga Māori. Their stories also progress and gain depth.

Veronica is introduced with her try-hard attempts to be “totally down with the Crips” as she breaks away from her girlfriends to hit on hot rugby player Phoenix. When the “raised with privilege Shore Girl” who has been made Head Girl of St Christians, is patronising and casually racist, and fancies herself as an opera singer, turns out to be Veronica, I am surprised – and even more so when I discover she is palagi.

Because (as with Birds), Foa’i gives all females and fa’afafine the same ultra-feminine characteristics, my concentration becomes diverted into working out who is who rather than enjoying what they get up to.

Anyway, Veronica talks her girlfriends into “doing something adventurous” by going to a South Auckland club – called either the Apia Way or Api Aue – and that’s where she meets Amosa, whose own mates give him a hard time when he offers to buy them drinks … And so their stories progress.

Foa’i plays the multitude of characters dressed in a white singlet, long-short jeans and basketball boots. His range from lightly feminine Pasifika girl to powerfully masculine Māori man is impressive even if it’s sometimes hard to work out exactly who he is being when and therefore whose story we’ve returned to. His physicality is impressive too, and Jennifer Lal’s technical support with lights and sound add to the variations in visuals and pacing.

While some top-level names appear in the acknowledgements, no-one is credited as dramaturg or director and these are the skills that are needed now to bring Thirsty up to its full potential.  

From witnessing this first outing, which has largely been driven by nervous energy on the night, it’s hard to specify what can be clarified in performance and what improvements can be made by trimming and recalibrating the text. Writing-wise the Tyra/Devonte and Veronica/Amosa stories are well structured, resolving in ways that leave us with plenty to ponder. My feeling is the play would pack more of a punch if more time and space was given to the evolution and resolution of those relationships.

The more people who go to this short development season, the better Ali Foa’i and his support team will be able to judge how best to bring Thirsty to the next stage. 


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