12 Nov 2019

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .


New play from The Conch highlights experiences of children in state care

Auckland 1963, three 11-year-old boys meet in a cell in the family court. Two Māori and one Samoan – Wheels, Piwi and a boy called Piano. Made wards of state and taken to Owairaka Boys Home. So begins a story into the heart of darkness, abuse and pain and a journey of survival, friendship and the light of the human spirit.

From the creators of The White Guitar comes a new play, A Boy Called Piano, the true story of Fa’amoana ‘John’ Luafutu and the experience of thousands of Māori and Pasifika children placed in state care in the 1960s.

Award-winning New Zealand theatre company The Conch presents A Boy Called Piano in its first season in Wellington at BATS Theatre from 22-30 November. This development season will be followed by a nine-centre New Zealand tour in late 2020.

Written by Fa’amoana Luafutu Directed by Nina Nawalowalo and Jim Moriarty, A Boy Called Piano builds on the story of The White Guitar and uses The Conch’s kaupapa of harnessing the power of theatre as a force for social change.

“At a time when the Government is drawing up the terms for a Royal Commission of Enquiry into the terrible abuse of children in state care, Fa’amoana has chosen to speak out through this new play,” says producer Tom McCrory. “His story is not one of private shame but one shared by thousands which impacts on us all.”

McCrory adds that A Boy Called Piano came out of the collaboration for The White Guitar.

“The story of The White Guitar was an immense journey, which had a huge impact on audiences. In the process of taking Fa’amoana, Malo (Scribe) and Matthias’ huge lives and translating that into 90 minutes of theatre meant so many amazing stories were left untold. One of those which stayed with us was Fa’amoana’s story of his experiences as a ward of the state.”

The Conch Artistic Director and Co-Director of A Boy Called Piano, Nina Nawalowalo says  Fa’amoana John Luafutu is both a survivor and a master storyteller.”This is the first time the experience of those in state care has come directly to the New Zealand stage told by a man who lived it.”

Combining highly physical storytelling and stunning AV design, A Boy Called Piano will feature Matthias Luafutu together with Aaron McGregor and Allan Henry, with music composed and performed by Mark Vanilau.

Fa’amoana Luafutu says through this play he hopes to use his voice as a vehicle to convey a cry of love to the past, present and future. “We must look to the past with understanding and to the future with love.”

A Boy Called Piano is at BATS Theatre in Wellington from 22-30 November. Tickets are on sale now through BATS Theatre www.bats.co.nz