PREVIEW: Kava Girls

Play brings Transgender Pacific closer to home.

Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou

Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou

There are some places in the world, where being transgender wouldn’t raise a plucked eye brow. In Kava Girls a play with songs written, and directed by Sani Muliaumaseali’i you’ll find such a place.

Kava Girls is at The Marlborough Pub & Theatre, 4 Prince’s St, Brighton BN2 1RD, on August 3 & 4 during Brighton Pride.

Presented by the Gafa Arts Collective (GAC) the UK’s first Samoan Arts Collective, Kava Girls tells the story of fa’afafine or transgender Samoan, Sinalei and her contemporaries who are struggling as understudies in the London West End.

Kava is a drink used in ceremonies in the pacific and is integral to the Samoan way of life. The ‘Fa’afafine’ is also integral to the Samoan way of life.

Generally accepted everywhere ‘the fa’afafine is almost rendered invisible by her visibility‐despite her sometimes outrageous wardrobe choices’ says Muliaumaseali’i who plays ingenue Sinalei. “I didn’t intend to play the role, but when the auditions yielded little, the producer side me decided to get practical”.  Muliaumseali’i has been moving audiences as Sinalei for the Kava Girls UK Pride tour which began, in May 2016.

Original cast member Ninotchka Tingleff is “thrilled to be back” as veteran Debra, she says “I haven’t met many transgender people though it simply shouldn’t be an issue at all, just another aspect of whom someone is”. 

Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou

Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou

Themes such as art as commodity and the machinations of the showbiz factory are explored in Kava Girls. Tingleff says that in many TV talent shows “(Artists) usually end up being packaged into a bland copy of a myriad of existing performers”.

Far from bland is Canadian performer Melissa Veszi who plays the feisty Salma, “She’s vivacious, a believer and very ambitious qualities I see in myself” says the multi‐talented, Sussex based Veszi, “I think the concept of the Kava Girls is brilliant. The show also tackles very important (social tolerance) issues which to me as an artist, is always a bonus”.

The production was ‘pick of the fringe’ in Edinburgh and will be accompanied by live and recorded music. Filled with pathos, humour & brittle glamour the Kava Girls will have you accepting the extraordinary, facing dilemmas and some how still believing that there’s a piece of the pie for us all.

“Wherever happiness lies, it’s your duty to yourself to go find it” says Muliaumaseali’i “but remember, with Kava Girls there is no such thing as a free drink.”

London, UK. 11.05.2016. Gafa Arts Collective presents Kava Girls at the Bedford, Balham part of Wandsworth Fringe Festival. Photo shows: Sani Muliaumaseali'i, Ninothcka Tingleff, Melissa Veszi. Photo - © Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou


Event: Kava Girls by Sani Muliaumaseali’i presented by the GAFA Arts Collective

Where: The Marlborough Pub & Theatre, 4 Prince’s St, Brighton BN2 1RD.

When: August 3 and 4

Time: 7.30pm

Cost: Tickets £15/£12 (concession)

To book online, click here: 

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