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Vaka: The Birth of a Seer

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A scene from 'Vaka: The Birth of a Seer'.

photo: Naoki Takyo

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can enhance and help in the perpetuation of Oceanian cultures. These were the words of Professor Vilsoni Hereniko as he defined the underlying theme of the new and remarkable cultural performance titled ‘Vaka: The Birth of a Seer’. The new production was held in conjunction with the opening of the new Multi Purpose Theatre of the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre as well as the first-ever international conference on ICTs and Oceanian Cultures. Vaka was the brainchild of a growing number of world-class artists from the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) at The University of the South Pacific. Professor Hereniko, Director of OCACPS and a renowned scholar, playwright and filmmaker, was the executive producer and adviser on this production. Together with him, two of the region’s most talented artists were at the centre of this extravaganza. Mr Peter Espiritu, the Artistic Director and Mr Iglese Ete, Head of Performing Arts, both from OCACPS, played the roles of director/writer/choreographer and musical director respectively. According to Professor Hereniko, the synergy among all these talents is what made the show such a success. Inspired by migration myth and legend as well as the Vaka Drua (double-hull canoe) culture and its associated beliefs and practices, the Oceanian music-dance-drama lived up to its hype as it turned out to be one of the most spectacular shows ever witnessed in the region. It received an overwhelming response from those that watched one of its showings on 22nd, 24th and 25th of February 2012 at the newly opened Multi Purpose Theatre at the University’s Laucala Campus in Suva. Boasting of a cast of about 70 singers, dancers and actors, the poetic story of Vaka integrates 21st century technology with Oceanian traditions. The performance is made up of eight scenes which depict the life of the character, Manoa, a young visionary who is born blind but leads his people to respect their ancestral land and wisdom and the oceans that nourish them.   When Manoa is born, the Gods order the people to protect him and to build a Vaka Drua. This does not settle well with Ratu, the village oracle, who is envious of Manoa’s charisma and curses him to death. Throughout the story, Ratu pursues Manoa with various strategies to harm him. The show took about three months to prepare and cost about F$87000. These costs were met by USP and the Embassy of the United States (US). Professor Hereniko thanked the cast members and crew for the hard work and dedication they put into the rehearsals that culminated in three standing-room-only performances of Vaka. He also acknowledged the significant financial support by the Vice Chancellor, the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, the Oceania Centre, and the Embassy of the United States. Professor Hereniko said that there are two productions that mirror the double-hull canoe. Now that Vaka: The Birth of a Seer is over, auditions will soon begin on the next production titled ‘Vaka: The Wave of Fire’, which is expected to be staged later this year and will also represent USP at the Festival of Pacific Arts at the Solomon Islands in July, 2012.

This news item was published on 29 Feb 2012 05:20:42 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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