Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘Red, White and Brass’ makes the move from the big screen to the stage

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Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

A stage adaptation of the beloved film Red, White and Brass is in the works to take the ASB Waterfront Theatre Stage from the 20th of June 2024. 

The journey from screen to stage has been spearheaded by talented playwright Leki Jackson-Bourke, who’s excited to bring the film to life.

“I feel overwhelmed with joy, pride, mafana—it’s so awesome to hear our Tongan language in our stories on stage,” he says.

“It’s going to be at the ASB Waterfront, one of our biggest theatres here in New Zealand. It’s a very proud momentous occasion for our community and our people.”

Directed by New Zealand theatre legends Vela Manusaute and Anapela Polataivao, the pair are honoured to be a part of something this significant. 

“It’s the first of its kind to be with Auckland Theatre Company, the highest level in terms of stage,” says Vela. 

Anapela admitted she had never seen it as a stage play because she loved the film so much.

“The idea came through for it to be adapted for the stage and I just thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’ We’re in a room full of vivacious and energetic storytellers.” she says.

Bringing a stage production to life involves overcoming challenges, particularly in the costume department. 

Costume Designer Kulisi Vaega has been working very hard behind the scenes to make the cast look good, efficiently.

“The most important thing when building these looks is incorporating the best functionality for quick changes. We came up with the idea to add velcro to the Tupenu… so on the night, they will wrap it around their body, velcro, tie, and go,” she says.

The play will feature the Maamaloa Brass Band (MBB) who are a Tongan Community based band established under the Tupou College Aotearoa Ex-Student Organisation Society. They are set to perform live alongside the ensemble every night. 

JP Foliaki, who plays the lead character Maka, is excited to get amongst it, highlighting the show’s cultural significance. 

“One of the reasons why ‘Red, White and Brass’ in film was such a success was because it told an authentic Tongan story,” he says.

Showing for 18 nights from the 20th of June, Leki hopes the stage adaptation will resonate with audiences from all walks of life. 

“When people come in and see the heart, joy, and warmth that Tongan people have through song, dance, and language, I hope they take away a sense of who we are as Tongan people living here in Aotearoa New Zealand and get an authentic representation of ourselves on the stage.”

Iron your flags and mark your calendars—this is one you won’t want to miss!

For more info head to Auckland Theatre Company.



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