Double act for mother and daughter
A mother and daughter are teaming up to tell the tale of their family history.
Fifteen-year-old Reid Elisaia will star in Falemalama – a play written and directed by her mother Dianna Fuemana.
It’s the first time the pair have worked together professionally.
Dianna says she had already recognised her daughter’s talent and when the actor originally cast for the role pulled out, Reid was the obvious choice.
“I saw the confidence in her in terms of her performance ability and her ability to cope with stress.”
Falemalama, meaning House of Lights, which opens at the Mau Theatre in Henderson on Friday, tells the story of Dianna’s mother and her journey from Pago Pago in American Samoa, through Niue to New Zealand.
She says although some research went into the writing, she recalled a lot of the stories her parents had told her. “It’s something I’ve always had in journals and diaries – it was just a matter of bringing it together.”
The play is Dianna’s fifth and although it will make its Auckland debut in March, it has already been performed in Minneapolis and at the 10th South Pacific Arts Festival in Pago Pago last July.
Reid, who studies drama at Western Springs College, made her professional acting debut at the festival in Pago Pago.
The young actress, who will also make her on-screen debut in a television series this year, says playing the same character as a 10-year-old right through to a 63-yearold has been a challenge.
“It takes heaps of thinking to find the character within yourself. It takes a bit of time, reading the story over and over again.”
She says playing her grandmother has also been an interesting way to delve into her own family history.
“When I read the play I was really shocked and surprised and curious to know more about it.”
And despite living and rehearsing fulltime together, Reid says working with her mum has been fine.
She says she would love to make acting a fulltime career.
“Hopefully I’ll do a good performance and people will recognise me.”
“It’s a great launching pad for her and her decision to be part of the performing arts,” says Dianna.
Falemalama runs from Friday until March 10.
Tag team: Dianna Fuemana and daughter Reid Elisaia are bringing their family history to the stage.