Wild Dogs Under My Skirt

Victoria Theatre, Devonport, Auckland

15/03/2007 - 16/03/2007

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

09/03/2007 - 11/03/2007

Auckland Festival 2007

Production Details

Written and performed by Tusiata Avia
Directed by Rachel House
Design by Sean Lynch

What do Samoan women and wild dogs have in common?
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt is a hot new solo show that brings the Pacific, quietly salivating for human flesh, to Auckland Festival, AK07.

A ground breaking, edge-of your-seat ride through the Pacific like you’ve never imagined it. Tusiata Avia delivers her confrontational, lyrical brand of performance taking you from the South Seas to the Red Sea, from the mean streets of Mangere to the sand seas of Saudi Arabia.

Warmly received by audiences as far afield as Vienna, Moscow, Hamburg and Honolulu; WILD DOGS UNDER MY SKIRT comes to Auckland for the first time.

WILD DOGS UNDER MY SKIRT will shock, delight and seduce audiences. WILD DOGS UNDER MY SKIRT looks through Pacific eyes at being a woman, being between cultures, racism, love, sex, abuse and wild dogs – the stuff you won’t find in Blue Hawai’i. Be prepared to laugh, cry and have your prejudices shaken!

“With a gentle strength and fluid grace she paints vivid word pictures, offers amusing observations and insights and captures intense emotional moments in her timeless experience as a woman, Samoan, New Zealander and citizen of the world. The plastic flowers and doilies might be harmless fun but the show also has the cutting edge of her very real machete.

“Wild Dogs Under My Skirt is a must-see show when it comes your way.”
– John Smythe, National Business Review

“…an acute, wry vision of the world, Avia wins over the audience with her smiling face – but the gaze of her penetrating eyes can suddenly take one into dangerous territory.”
– Laurie Atkinson, The Dominion Post

Victoria Theatre Devonport
Dates: Thurs 15 – Fri 16 March at 7pm
Tickets: $28 – $35
Bookings: 09 361 1000 www.iticket.co.nz

Musgrove Studio, The Maidment Theatre
Dates: Fri 9 – Sat 10 at 8pm, except Sun 11 at 6pm
Tickets: $28 – $35
Bookings: 09 308 2383 www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz

Theatre , Solo ,

Compelling balance of levity and ferocity

Review by Louise Tu'u 11th Mar 2007

Wild Dogs under my skirt is the solo show, written and performed by Tusiata Avia. It has travelled the globe for five years, performed in venues as varied as Vienna, Hamburg and Honolulu. For me, the show has finally found its way home, to a city where the Pacific, especially Samoan contexts that the work engages with, is read with a richer sense of recognition.

The set is minimal and striking. A sole sapelu hangs perilously from the ceiling, with a cross in parallel, also in spotlight. The pace of Avia’s performance is just right, allowing each characterisation to comfortably register with the audience’s familiarity. The choreography is elegantly executed, emphasising the movements with simplicity and grace.

Avia has an immediate and engaging presence, which she uses to gauge an audience with astuteness. Her aunty characters, who continually gossip, scold and always inspire terror, suggest a depth of Avia’s personal knowledge of these hilarious and frightening relatives. Animal lovers had best close their ears to the delight of which certain child characters take to persecuting their emaciated ‘guard’ dog, Bingo. Comparing pisupo to human flesh and naming the bouncers on K’rd as being "all cousins of David Tua and Jonah Lomu" brings the audience to tears with laughter.

However, the limitation of two distinctive voices with varying levels of "Samoan-ness", used to distinguish the Samoan-born with their thick accents and the performer’s own natural New Zealand lilt, is distracting and repetitive. This probably has to do with the choice of similarly themed poems and their protagonists.

Of particular interest is the Arabian love affair. The arid landscape and resulting acrimony between the pair is a delightful disintegration which could linger longer at the mosque. Also, Avia’s tale of her first journey to Samoa is direct and poignant.

The eponymous work comes right at the end, with a feeling that it has come a poem too late, with a slight flatness of the character’s ponderings on getting a malu.

Avia’s poetry encapsulates the struggles of being a Pacific woman with wit, subtlety and an eagle eye. The balance of levity and ferocity in her work highlights the optimal results and palpable care in developing and crafting a solid solo show over a long performance season, which is in stark contrast to a lot of other local theatre work.

Avia is a delight to watch: forthright, compelling and not to be missed.

[After its 6pm performance at the Musgrove Studio, Sunday 11 March, Wild Dogs plays the Victoria Theatre, Devonport, Thurs 15 – Fri 16 March at 7pm.]


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