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Wild Dogs Under My Skirt - Riverside Theatres (NSW)

Written by Tusiata Avia. Produced by Victor Rodger FCC Productions.

An incredibly special performance to witness and be consumed by - a collection of stories about the lived experiences of Samoan and New Zealander women

Reviewed by Chanele Mao

National Theatre of Parramatta

Season 18 April – 20 April 2024

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt is a collection of stories about Samoan women and their lived experiences of life in Samoa and New Zealand. Written by New Zealand based writer and poet, Tusiata Avia, the work is a convergence of poetry, lyrical, song and dance theatre. Avia is half Samoan via her father and half Kiwi-European via her mother. She writes with passion and pride about her culture and heritage in Samoa, an island in the Pacific Ocean.

The stories told in Wild Dogs Under My Skirt are representative of the lifestyles, expectations and rules that Samoan women must abide by, in order to be considered a 'good' and faithful girl, as opposed to a bad and unfaithful girl. From an early age, it is ingrained in the women by their elders (who are held in high esteem), to follow the rules, and behave appropriately as a 'good girl' in all circumstances. These societal customs apply to everyone and includes on Sundays - the holy day, where Samoans are expected to go to church, pray, be in community together, and then go to sleep. Rituals are strictly observed and followed.

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (2024) - Images by Adam Kissick

Something special was born the moment a group of friendly, beautiful and smiling Samoan women entered the stage as they danced and moved to the beat of the drums performed by Leki Jackson-Bourke. The stage is set with five tall tribal throne-like chairs, one for each of the five Samoan women, and the background appeared to resemble the windowpanes of a church. Needless to say, religion and believing in Jesus Christ, is at the heart of Samoan culture. The choreography by Mario Faumui as seen by the Samoan women's dance is very alluring and evocative, it’s as if you are watching a graceful swan glide across a serene lake. The use of the smooth and relaxed sounds of the ukulele, and the sway of the women’s hips and bodies added to the mood of the idyllic islander life.

The ensemble cast: Anapela Polata’ivao, Stacey Leilua, Joanna Mika-Toloa, Petmal Lam, and Ilaisaane Green worked together cohesively. As an ensemble they moved marvellously well together with one-breath and step, indicative of a deep heart-felt connection. The audience around me, many of whom seem to be either Samoan or from the Pacific Islands, received the work with such cheerful delight you could feel their joy at the relatability of the stories and humour therein.

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt has toured all over the world. If you are interested to learn more about Samoan culture, or experience their rituals, lifestyles, diet and humour, then be sure to catch the show before they cross the Tasman!


The show runs for approximately 75 minutes with no interval.


Writer - Tusiata Avia

Director/Designer - Anapela Polata'ivao

Choreographer/Stage Manager - Mario Faumui

Drummer - Leki Jackson-Bourke

Lighting Designer - Rachel Marlow

Executive Producer - Victor Rodger, FCC Productions

Cast - Anapela Polata’ivao, Stacey Leilua, Joanna Mika-Toloa, Petmal Lam, and Ilaisaane Green



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