A Literary Experience: Pacific on Stage

Photo Credit: 
J. Kneubuhl
THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: ASCC student Tuli Tauanuu rehearses a lively interpretation of "I, The Worker", by Samoan Poet Eti Sa'aga. (Photo 2) The musically gifted Pouesi siblings Leo, Isu and Rexy, rehearsing an original song.

(MAPUSAGA--MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2016)--The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Language and Literature Department hosted “A Literary Experience: Pacific on Stage” Thursday, Apr. 14 at the college’s Lecture Hall.

ASCC students gave performances based on historic and recent literature written by Pacific authors in multiple formats.

"Our theme is Pacific authors,” said Language and Literature Department chairperson Mrs. Melelina Fiaui, “and many of the pieces detail the struggles, triumphs, and experiences of living in the Pacific, and being of Pacific island descent.”

Categories of literature rehearsed by the ASCC students include poetry performances, original poems, monologues, famous speeches, lyrics and music, dual acting, slam poetry.

Students also presented a screenplay adapted from Samoan Author Lani Wendt Young’s short story “Don’t Tell.” Wendt Young is known by her readers as the Demented Domestic Goddess, mother of the Fabulous Five and wife of the "Hot Man" Darren Young.

In the famous speech category, a student performed Queen Lili’uokalani’s speech made in Washington D.C. regarding the U.S. Annexation of Hawai'i.

In the poetry category a student interpreted ‘Me the Labourer’ by Eti Saaga. The rest of the performances were original student work that reflects Pacific themes.

A scene from the upcoming ASCC Fine Arts Department play, “Once On This Island” was also performed.

“Pacific on Stage” marked the third occasion where the Language and Literature Department presented a literary night.

In the months leading up to the event, the department made available a list and brief description of categories students could perform in, with the only requirement being that their select pieces be written by Pacific authors and/or present a Pacific theme.

Auditions were open to all ASCC students, with Language and Literature faculty serving as judges. Once the department had chosen the top performers for each category, each individual student or group was assigned a faculty mentor to work with them as their “literary coach.”

While the event is not associated with any particular ASCC class, Mrs. Fiaui explained that the event aligns with the goals and objectives of the Language and Literature Department, whose mission statement specifies that students will examine cultures, issues and themes in multiple genres and demonstrate critical thinking through literary analysis.

“In order to perform a published piece,” she said, “students need to look at the author’s background, as well as the tone, word choice, character, setting, and figurative language of the work, and then ultimately decide what it means to them."

For the students who offered original pieces, they needed to be able to write and perform them in such a way as to make clear the tone, feeling, and message.

Because of these challenges, the literary night provided an opportunity for students to experience literature in a different light. Instead of reading something on a page, they performed it, which allowed them to apply their unique interpretation.

For more information on “Pacific on Stage,” contact the ASCC Language and Literature Department at 699-9155, extension 320.