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Wild dog woman: Tusiata Avia, poet

Sep 23, 2016 Theatre

Above: Tusiata Avia. Photo by Ken Downie.

Looking at being a woman through Pacific eyes.

Words by Tusiata Avia.

“Wild dogs under my skirt”: what images slide into your mind? Bared teeth? The smooth thighs of women? Perhaps you hear snarling laughter? Or do you think of sex…?

For seven years, from 2002, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt made its way around the world — Germany, Austria, Israel, Bali, Morocco, Australia, Russia, Hawai’i — shocking, seducing and delighting audiences as it touched on everything from cannibalism to domestic cruelty. It moved from Samoa to Siberia, from Mangere to the Middle East.

It was a one-woman show and I was both writer and performer. The last time I staged it, in 2008, I was a new and single mother. The juggle became too difficult. I thought the show had come to the end of its life — and then last year, my cousin Victor Rodger, the award-winning playwright (Black Faggot, My Name is Gary Cooper), asked to include Wild Dogs as part of his regular FCC play readings. Not as a solo show, but with six Pacific actresses.

Watching that reading last year was emotional: Wild Dogs came from me and had become a part of me, but under the direction of Arts Laureate Anapela Polataivao (The Factory, Girl on a Corner, Puzzy), Wild Dogs became something new in ways I never could have imagined. And as the first Pasifika director of this show, Anapela brought something vital and new to the work.

What she achieved after only one hour’s rehearsal with the actors during that FCC reading was extraordinary. What she will achieve with her spectacular cast in the September production of Wild Dogs at the Mangere Arts Centre, I can only imagine. What I do know is that I am wildly excited.

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt looks through Pacific eyes at being a woman, at being between cultures, at racism, love, sex, abuse and, yes, at all those “wild dogs” who have howled at us and from within us from the beginning of time. Come and see for yourself…

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Mangere Arts Centre, September 26-October 1.



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