New play brings transgender Pacific closer to home   9 Jul 2014

There are some places in the world, where being transgender wouldn’t raise a plucked eyebrow. In "Kava Girls", a play with songs - written and directed by Sani Muliaumaseali’i - you’ll find such a place. The world premiere is set for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 10 - Aug 25, Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall, Venue 278, and is presented by the Gafa Arts Collective (GAC) the UK’s first Samoan Arts Collective.

Kava Girls tells the story of transgender Samoan, Sinalei and her contemporaries who are striving and struggling as understudies or covers in the London West End. Kava is a drink used in ceremonies in the Pacific. Known as Ava in Samoa it is integral to the Samoan way of life. The ‘Fa’afafine’ or transgender is also integral to the Samoan way of life. Accepted everywhere 'the ‘fa’afafine is almost rendered invisible by her visibility-despite her sometimes outrageous wardrobe choices’ says Muliaumaseali’i who also wrote the score. Sinalei is played by London -British newcomer A.J. LeRoy, who says ‘I enjoy experimenting with different styles and remaining open to new opportunities’ which is handy as LeRoy has to learn Samoan cultural practices & language for the role. Ninotchka Tingleff, an American, plays Debra. She says ‘I haven’t met many transgender people though it simply shouldn't be an issue at all, just another aspect of whom someone is‘ Themes such as art as commodity and the machinations of the showbiz factory are explored in Kava Girls. Tingleff says that in many TV talent shows ‘(Artists) usually end up being packaged into a bland copy of a myriad of existing performers’ LeRoy cites a lack of commitment to craft on these shows ‘ I see these shows as a short-cut to stardom rather than gradually working up the ladder ‘ A short cut is exactly what Kava Girl Salma is looking for. Salma is played by Londoner Dilys Uwagboe who says ‘The frustrations of trying to make it in the entertainment industry are too close to home to turn down the chance of playing them out on stage!’ The Kava Girls will be adorned by innovative contemporary Samoan Artist Sistar S’Pacific, Rosanna Raymond and will be accompanied by live and recorded music. Filled with pathos, humour and brittle glamour the Kava Girls will have you accepting the extraordinary, facing dilemmas and somehow still believing that there’s a piece of the pie for us all. ‘Wherever happiness lies, it's your duty to yourself to go find it’ says Uwagboe. But remember with the Kava Girls there is no such thing as a free drink.


Kava Girls by Sani Muliaumaseali’i, presented by the GAFA Arts Collective.
Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall, Venue 278, 22 Hanover Street, Edinburgh Aug 10 - 25 2014, 4:05pm (not 18th)

Tickets £6.50 £5.00

Edinburgh 0131 220 5911

Previews 10- 12 Aug 10 - 12 £4.00 (45mins) tickets available from www.spotlites.co.uk & www.edfringe.com

www.gafasamoa.com

NZNews UK is proud to support Kava Girls and the GAFA Arts Collective. We have a double-pass to give away to both the London preview on August 3, and the world premiere opening at the Edinburgh Fringe. Visit our Competitions page to enter.

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