Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rehearsing for Radio - February 6th 2007

So, after a break over Christmas the Wanigili Theatre Group is back and as busy as ever. This week sees us rehearsing for the radio plays which we plan to broadcast in March. The scripts are being written, and rewritten – storylines developing and occasionally changing as the group perfects the scenes and makes them more realistic.

The only recording we have done so far is into a tape recorder, but this gives us a good idea of how we sound, and provides the chance to play with sounds and sound effects (the sound effect list grows daily). We are currently investigating our recording options as we want to produce the best quality radio plays as possible, and (hopefully) some equipment is on the way.

For the moment we are focusing on developing the characters and scenes that we have so written so far. Lots more to do, but it’s all very exciting, worthwhile and fun work!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Carols by Candlelight – 15th December 2006

It’s coming up to that time of year again, and it’s time to celebrate! Education Milne Bay did just that last week by holding its first Carols by Candlelight event, presented by, and featuring the Wanigili Theatre Group.

The Wanigili Theatre Group benefited from the experience of not only performing in this event, but also helped to organise and present the whole night. Group members made their own costumes and props, set the stage, helped to source other acts, announced those acts, and ran the bbq and raffle. It is an essential aspect of their learning experience (and of drama and theatre as a whole), to have an idea of the whole event – from beginning to end.

Thankfully the weather held out and we were able to hold the event outdoors as planned. The Wanigili Theatre group performed the nativity scene, but with a PNG flavour. Mary was wearing a meri blouse and the three wise men were from Gili Gili, Weimar and Kiriwina and in traditional dress. The gifts presented to the baby Jesus were traditional also – a lime pot, shell necklace and yams. They used the outdoor space effectively, and had a manger set up in a canoe hut. The nativity scene was not only a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but also celebrated and gave credit to traditional PNG culture.

The scene was beautifully done and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed it. We had some help from the local group Kwato Isimulata Choir Ministry in adding atmosphere, and also singing as the chorus of angels at the appearance of the Angel Gabriel. At the conclusion of the piece the group led the crowd in singing the hymn ‘Joy to the World’.

A big thank you to the other performers on the night – the audience was treated to carols, traditional PNG music, contemporary and pacific dance, and also a surprise visit from Santa Claus!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

World AIDS Day – 1st December 2006

HIV/AIDS is an important and urgent issue in Papua New Guinea, with many individuals and groups working towards educating the public. World AIDS Day, celebrated the world over, presented a great opportunity to raise awareness about the illness and associated side effects (physical, emotional and social).

The Wanigili Theatre group was invited to participate in the day. In Alotau, there was a march through town in the morning, followed by events held at Sanderson Bay for the rest of the day and night. The march involved groups of all ages, and it was wonderful to see school children becoming educated and involved in the HIV/AIDS cause.

Once at the stage we heard songs from the school groups, speeches from doctors and ministers, as well as an emotional testimony from a young woman who has been diagnosed HIV positive. She touched many with her story, and her strength and courage were inspirational. The Wanigili Theatre group prepared an educational piece on the HIV/AIDS virus, trying to break down the stigma associated with the virus, as well as warn people about risky behaviors. It seems that many people have heard of the virus, but know very little factual information.

Overall the performance was well received, as was a performance from theatre veterans Mr and Mrs Toru. It’s great to see that drama is being utilized as a simple and effective (and non-intimidating) educational tool about important issues. The Wanigili Theatre group would like to continue with these types of performances in the future (both about HIV/AIDS and other important issues), and take them to all parts of the community, including schools, and villages.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

School Camps and Performances Galore

Education Milne Bay has been in camp season. This means that schools from all over PNG come and spend some time in Milne Bay, learning about the environment, being taught new skills, and generally having a good time. One important activity is the School Camp Night, where the school camp ‘teams’ each have to prepare a piece to perform in front of their peers. What better time than this to have the Wanigili Theatre Group perform as well?

Over the 4 solid weeks of school camps there were five different school camps, and the group performed at all of them. For the first performance they decided to give some improvisation and theatre sports games a try (a brave decision for the groups’ second public performance). Anyone familiar with impro may know Emotional Replay (a game where an improvised scene is replayed in different emotions), Death in a Minute (where the scene goes for exactly a minute and someone needs to ‘die’ within that time) and the Small Voice Game (where the actors interact with a small, unseen character voiced by someone off stage). The group performed these games and others in front of an audience made up of Grade 6 and 7’s. And they performed again with some Grade 8 students, actually getting volunteers from the audience to help them in some of the scenes.

They also tried their hand at creating small, educational pieces to present at the camps. Inspired by International Children’s Day the group collectively created pieces on school fees and girls’ education, bullying, peer pressure and violence towards children. All of these pieces were received well and with enthusiasm. At each performance there was a clear point delivered, the students learnt something and were inspired to perform their own pieces, and everyone had fun! These pieces will be documented and kept for future use, perhaps in schools or village education programs.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006
Cora's feedback from Canoe Festival and Invisible Theatre

The Canoe Festival over the weekend was a very busy and exciting event. There were the paddlers, the traditional dancers and all sorts of people within and outside Milne Bay Province. As for the Invisible Theater group, they were out on a mission to do a play without an audience knowing about it.

The group had a brief meeting to finalise what to do and then everyone was dropped off at the market area to begin the Invisible piece. The actors were left to walk around like everyone else but it was not as easy as we thought it would turn out. The actors were to walk around the stall areas, keeping an eye out for each other when the actual play was to start.

I also took part in the Invisible Theatre group with the other actors. I thought it was all going to be easy to act out this piece but it was quite hard to find group members to get it all started in the big crowd we had on Saturday. Well, we at least got ourselves together and then there was this difficulty of getting friends out of our way and not making it obvious that we were doing something. I for one bumped into many of my friends like the other actors and we had to just tell them we were hurrying and needed to leave them. We did manage to get together at last for the piece to begin. The first phase of the play was near a market stall with mothers selling food stuff and handcrafts. As a student, I was asked by one of the actors about how I traveled from school and came home. This brought up the issue of discussing on the cheapest transport available. It left the mothers and other nearby onlookers giving their opinions about how M.V Milne Bay has been providing good service for the people. So, we had a really good response from the public without them knowing that we were actually acting out a piece and them contributing by giving their views. The next scene took place when one of the actor’s purse went missing and we started looking around for it. This caught the crowd’s attention as they were curious to know what was going on with people crowding around that particular area. This was a good feedback we got from the people as they really gave their negative thoughts about the ship. They went on saying things like the ship brought in too many people with new ideas and attitudes which is making the place unsafe. Some people also helped to search for the purse showing concern for the lost item. So, the crowd gave both good and bad views about the ship. Some of the good points were about the ship’s cheap traveling rate compared to airlines and handcrafts and artifacts from other parts of the country. The bad views were mainly on the change of the peaceful community. A lot was said about the increasing number of people the ship is admitting into the province.

From my own point of view, I think this new passenger ship is really helping people who cannot afford to pay airfares to travel. Hearing from friends who have traveled on the ship, they’ve said that the service provided on board was really good and convenient and also the fare was reasonable for both children and adults. After participating in the Invisible Theater, I learnt that it was a very effective way of getting people’s views and making awareness to them about issues they need to know about.

I hope to learn a lot and get myself geared up with the computer skills before returning for school next year. I am glad that the staff at EMB have offered to teach me some stuff on the computer, especially their blog website. I know I’m going to learn a lot and get myself more familiar with these before I leave as not many homes in PNG have access to the latest technology. It is a good opportunity for me to gain more knowledge and experience from EMB. I believe that after these 2 months of work experience, I will have learnt a lot of things and it will be of good benefit to me. Apart from taking part with the drama group, I am writing up entries for their blog website as well. With the assistance and guidance of Maxine Nadile, the operations manager, I’ve written the first entry of the blog. With a lot of it still at work, the drama group practices are also on with the actors coming in the afternoons to go through their pieces.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Friday 3rd November, 2006 - Invisible Theatre plans for the Canoe Festival

Hi, I’m Cora Moabi, I’m 20 yrs old and I come from Misima Island in Milne Bay Province. I’m a student who is on work experience at Education Milne Bay (EMB), Alotau. I’m currently taking Communication Arts at the Divine Word University in Madang. I’m in my first year of studies and I’m currently on holidays in Milne Bay for three months. Being at EMB has been a new and challenging experience for me. There were some things that were new to me when I first started such as the weekly drama workshops and others which I was familiar with such as the group discussions of newspaper articles. All in all, it’s been good for me to take up and I’m beginning to enjoy it more.

Well, working with EMB for the past few days has been exciting but also there were a few things that made me feel nervous like acting but after all, everyone else in the group was taking part so it made me feel better. The experience gave me a challenge of what it would feel like to be out in the work force later on.

Jane McKenzie, a volunteer from Australia is currently helping out with the company’s drama group who are in the process of producing 6, 30 minute radio drama plays over the next five months. These plays will be broadcasted on Radio Milne Bay. In preparation for the drama recording, EMB has taken on interested people within Alotau.

Since I started, I have been participating with the members during their practice days. Apart from all the fun we have during the practices, I see there is always a message behind all the plays and the drama activities that we do. I thought the open discussions we always have after the drama practices were good. We sit down together as a group and air our views on current issues that affect PNG and also other parts of the world. These issues include HIV/ AIDS, Domestic Violence, and Good Governance which are the three main topics being addressed in the radio plays.

At the moment, Jane and the drama group members have organised an Invisible Theater piece which is going to be performed during the Canoe Festival this weekend. The Invisible Theater is a type of play that will be performed but not as in a normal drama scene where the audience is aware of the performance. This is a type where the drama will be performed without the crowd knowing about it. But as the play progresses, it will bring to the crowd’s attention issues that are affecting PNG.

This piece is looking at bringing to the public’s attention the major issues affecting PNG today. One of the issues to be brought out in this Invisible Theater drama is the service of the current operating passenger ship, M.V Milne Bay. The actors will be among the crowd as the show continues. They will try to raise their voices when bringing up these issues. Once the crowd notices that something’s going on, this is when the actors will talk about the issues to put thoughts into people’s mind. They will talk about the negative and positive sides of this passenger ship coming into Milne Bay Province. In one of the scenes, an actor’s purse will go missing. This will be the time when the issue of pick pocketing will be talked about as actors will raise their voices to alert the public. This will be done in a way that gets the people thinking and also voicing their opinions about the problems and good things this ship is bringing in.
Wanigil Theatre Group Profiles

Linda Kamit – Hi there everyone. My name is Linda Kamit and I am currently employed with Education Milne Bay Ltd as a Training and Administration assistant. I am 27 years old and married with 3 children, and I come from both the Milne Bay Province and Central Province in Papua New Guinea. I am one of the nine MDI core group members being introduced to you all.
I for one have never had a previous experience in drama and theatre performances so when the flyers went up for auditions, I thought to just try out for the fun of it. Well, I attended the auditions that were being conducted by my two co-workers Maxine Nadile and Jane McKenzie, tried out and guess what? I was one of the finalists that got through with flying colors. Isn’t that great!!!! I didn’t know I had potential in acting and have no regrets about joining the drama group. I have learnt so many new things from our drama co-ordinator (Jane McKenzie). She is a marvel and a fantastic person to work with. It is not only work, work, work, but great fun to be with the group. I am so proud and happy to be part of this.

Terence Collin – Terence is 31 years of age and lives at Giligili, West Gurney, in Alotau. He is married with 4 children; and enjoys sharing jokes and stories. He is also very active and plays sports such as soccer, volleyball and rugby league. Terence enjoys meeting new people, which he has been able to do through the MDI Radio Drama project.
He became involved in the project in order to learn from others, and to gain and improve his drama skills. It also provides a way for him to gain a broader idea of better standards of life, and how to teach others about these.

Andrew Tari – Hello, my name is Andrew Tari and I am 31 years of age. I come from Sepik and at the moment I am staying with my parents at Giligili, West Gurney, in Alotau. I got married to a girl from Kiriwina and we have one child.
I’m very interested in Education Milne Bay’s MDI (Media Development Initiative) Radio Drama project because it’s great, it’s fantastic. This project also brought my thoughts to the idea that this will benefit my future for the years to come. The workshops give me a goal to aim for and work towards. The 6 x 30 minutes radio drama play will be completed in March 2007; addressing key community related issues, such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and good governance.
The radio play will be aired on Radio Milne Bay and other national radio stations for the purpose of informing our communities, especially in the rural areas of Milne Bay and possibly around the rest of the country.
That’s all. Thank you, Andrew

Leanne Wilson – Leanne is 29 years of age, and grew up on Fergusson Island, in the Milne Bay Province. She is Catholic, and married with 4 children, and now lives at Giligili, West Gurney, in Alotau.
Leanne enjoys creating stories and plays and became involved in the group to gain and develop more drama skills. She also enjoys the opportunity to get out of the house, and to fill her day with more than housekeeping.
This project presents an opportunity for her to share ideas with those that lack education, and provides a way to help and support those in the community that are working to overcome their problems. She also views it as a way to gain more knowledge and maintain a better family lifestyle.

Rose Ila - Hi, I’m Rose Ila. My date of birth is 09/05/79. I’m very proud to be a member of The Bay Today (MDI Radio Drama project), because I like acting. I started acting in drama plays when I was in school, and the biggest drama play I performed in was the Passion Play, which is the Cruxification of our Lord.
There are two things that motivated me to take part in this radio drama programme. Firstly I always believe that I had the talent, so I’d like to prove myself and also to improve and build my talent (if there is one).
Secondly I’d like to pass on information about HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and good governance to the people of Milne Bay, and PNG as a whole.

Robin Noel – Robin is 31 years old, and is married with one child. He is from Kiriwina, where he attended school to Grade 10. He has had varied life experiences working in security, as a librarian, and also being on the organising committee of the Milne Bay Canoe Festival. Robin also enjoys reading, short story writing, teaching religious education with the United Church, being a Boy Scouts leader and vegetable gardening.
The MDI Radio Drama project is a way for Robin to gain confidence among other members of the group, the public, and with anyone from any walk of life. He enjoys the interesting, fun and loving atmosphere created within the group, and is looking forward to future experiences and performances with them.

John Napoleon - John has been involved in theatre for many years. He has run his own groups, including Weimar Theatre, and Milne Bay Theatre groups, and been involved in touring productions. Much of John’s more recent work has been with the Provincial AIDS Council, where he has helped in educating the community about HIV/AIDS. He has done this through drama and chairing discussions in villages and settlements. As one of the most experienced members of the group John is able to share insights with the group, as well as learning new skills to add to his repertoire.

Gerry Philip - Gerry comes from Weimar village, where he was involved with the Weimar Theatre Group in the past. Gerry relates much of his life to theatre, and enjoys expressing himself through drama, especially mime. He is enjoying the opportunity to learn new skills, and of being involved in a theatrical group again.

Jane McKenzie – Jane is an Australian volunteer working as a community arts development co-ordinator with Education Milne Bay. Her role in this group is that of co-coordinator, along with Maxine Nadile.
Jane has spent much of the last decade learning about the many aspects of theatre, and developing dramatic and technical skills through her involvement in over 45 productions. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Film and English; and a Diploma of Education in Drama and English. Not only has she performed in many productions, but has also worked as a stage manager, lighting designer/operator and director.
This project offers her the unique opportunity of being able to pass on her skills, thus empowering the group to educate the general community. By using radio as the medium the Wanigili Theatre members will be able to transfer important information to those in the furthest reaches of the province (and perhaps the country).

Maxine Nadile- Maxine is from Milne Bay Province, she is the Operations Manager at Education Milne Bay and has been with the company for almost 2 years. She has a background in tourism & hospitality and radio communications, having worked for PNG FM (Nau Fm & Yumi Fm) for 6 years in the areas of sales & marketing, copywriting, production and announcing. Maxine has a keen interest in promoting community related issues particularly those involving women & children. Possessing a creative streak, her primary role in this project is to assist and support Jane throughout the creative production process in order to achieve the set objectives.

Maxine is thrilled to be a part of this project and especially to work alongside Jane, whose skills & expertise have been invaluable. She sees this project as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. “The opportunity to be involved in a project of this nature & scale is rare. But Thanks to MDI, we are able to do this. One of the most rewarding aspects of this project for me is watching each of the team members develop their confidence and self esteem through the numerous drama skills they’ve learned from Jane.
They have learned so much in these past three months and what they’ve learned they will in turn take to their own communities to share with others.”
Wanigili Centre – Alotau, Milne Bay Province

“Ewwwaaa Wanigili!!” is what you might call out as you were paddling past a Milne Bay village where a diverse group of people were gathered, doing something that looked interesting. It describes our place, because at different times young & old, professional & grass roots, local & international can be seen together, participating in a variety of activities that contribute to positive developments within the province.

Welcome to Wanigili Centre, in Alotau, the capital of the beautiful province of Milne Bay - Papua New Guinea. Managed and operated by locally owned company Education Milne Bay Ltd, Wanigili is a unique and spacious eco-style facility providing development services to the community and nation at large.

It is here that a small group of eight very talented local men and women have been meeting for the past two months to form the “Wanigili Theatre Group”(WTG). The majority of the group are unemployed and with the exception of one or two, have had no formal training or professional experience in drama and theatre.

With the aid of funding from The Media for Development Initiative (MDI) Community Grant Scheme, the group’s mission is to develop their drama skills and then to produce 6 x 30 minute radio drama plays within 6 months. Titled “ The Bay Today”, the series will be set in Milne Bay Province but will examine the lives and issues of contemporary Melanesian communities in the 21st Century. These radio plays will be aired on the local radio station “Radio Milne Bay” by March 2007 and hopefully, the rest of the country. Key themes to be addressed are HIV/AIDS, Domestic Violence & Good Governance.

While we may not have all the answers or solutions to the above issues and many others that affect the Pacific family today, our main objective for this project is to inform, entertain, educate, empower and encourage open discussion and debate within our communities. Through the use of radio, we hope to reach as many remote rural and island communities as we can.

How do we intend to achieve all this in the short amount of time we have? With a lot of hard work and the assistance of Australian volunteer worker Jane McKenzie and her counterpart Maxine Nadile. Jane is a drama specialist from Sydney-Australia and has been with EMB for the past 7 months working as Community Arts Development Officer. She will be with EMB for a year. Maxine, who has been with the company for almost 2 years, is the Operations Manager with a background in Radio Communications.

To learn more about the Wanigili Theatre Group, who they are, where they’re from and what they’re learning, planning and doing this week as their deadline approaches.......READ ON!