Tongan group shares love of theatre

A group from Tonga showcased its love of theatre during the Festival of Pacific Arts held on Guam.

Members of the On the Spot Arts Initiative from Tonga performed a show that took several months of research to create.

As part of FestPac, the group did an improvisation workshop with the public.

Steve Laufilitoga, who led the workshop, said it was amazing to work with people from throughout the Pacific. The improvise class allowed artists to work together without any scripts and rehearsed pieces and to think on their toes.

“We need to explore different ideas from others,” he said.

He said his dream is to create a Pacific Theatre collaboration, and the workshop gave him a taste of what it would look like.

He said putting Pacific island culture into theatre helps to showcase it and educate people.

On the Spot Creative Director Ebonie MakaFifita L. said the show was created through researching and collecting stories over several months. The emotions from those stories were put into the show they brought to Guam.

Pacific Daily News reports the show focuses on a couple who falls in love over time and the struggles they face with family, tradition and leaving the island overseas for better opportunities. It has music, dance and acting to combine a powerful show.

The seed for the group was planted at a FestPac in 2004 and they’ve worked over the years to get to where they are today. At the 2008 festival, they were able to build a relationship with a company in New Caledonia, which helped them provide the skills and experience they needed to make the group grow.

The group is one of the only groups promoting 

the arts in Tonga, and it’s a struggle to get exposure and support, she said. The group doesn’t have a theatre to perform in, so coming to Guam — with a professional stage, lighting and a theatre space — was an amazing experience.

“Theatre is a foreign concept, a foreign word,” MakaFifita said of theatre back home.

She said she is thankful that Tonga officials placed their trust in the group to represent the country in theatre.

“To share it here is phenomenal,” she said. “It’s really something awesome.”