South Auckland based theatre troupe the Black Friars was formed in 2006 out of a desire to challenge the dominant stereotypes surrounding Pasifika people and, to “keep talented young brown people off the street and on the stage”.
Over the past eight years we’ve written and produced shows for the NZ International Comedy Festival and Auckland Fringe Festival, we’ve worked in churches and communities on youth suicide prevention, and we’ve held workshops for teachers and students around the Pacific. We’ve adapted classical works with and for young brown audiences, we’ve told original stories in traditional ways and traditional stories in original ways. We’ve won awards, been criticised and even attacked on occasion for our message.
These days, our mission statement has changed. We are now determined to “build bridges and make mirrors” but the vision is the same. We want to tell stories that matter to Polynesian people in Aotearoa, and we want to make existing stories relevant to us.
We are educators and counsellors, facilitators and enablers, theatre-makers and storytellers. Embracing these multiple identities constitutes the fabric of our company. We are proud to be pan-Polynesian, poly-vocal performers invested in the construction of identity for Pasifika people. We work in communities to encourage young people to tell stories that matter to them. In our theatre work, we also investigate questions of representation, loss and heritage vital to the survival of Pasifika culture in the diaspora.
Catch the full video up top.