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Blackout: Theatre, Rugby and Samoan Masculine Identities

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posted on 2021-11-16, 03:54 authored by Sepelini Mua'auSepelini Mua'au

This thesis examines key ideas concerning masculinity and Samoan identity, focusing on the external and internal pressures placed on Pacific Island athletes in New Zealand and abroad to inform the development of an original script, Blackout. In 2014, as part of an Honours script-writing course, I wrote a first draft for my first full-length play. Inspired by the work of Samoan playwright Oscar Kightley, Blackout is a play that intersects the story of four young Pacific Island boys in their last year of College with the journey of a talented young Pacific Islander in his mid-20s trying to make his way in the Professional Rugby world. This thesis is part of a practice-based research project, comprising a 60% theory-based thesis (25,000 words) and 40% practical component, developing the script through three workshop productions. The two working questions the thesis and production process centre on are, firstly how the experiences of young second generation Samoan males can be explored through a contemporary theatre text, enabling the research to develop the story and characters of the play. The second,how the development of this script can enhance an understanding of what it is to be an emerging playwright, grounding the piece in personal experiences and contributing discoveries for young Pacific Playwrights. The practical elements of the project will be evaluated through the submission of two scripts,the first draft and the final working script, the reflection of this process in the thesis including facets of a workbook and in the presentation of the final performance itself, a copy of which will be made available to all markers.  What drives the project is a desire to see how the experiences of young, male, Samoans might be represented theatrically and how this might be an effective way of connecting with community. This process has opened up two further questions, being:  What is the role of the writer in the rehearsal room?  What are the dramaturgical challenges of developing a script in-progress?


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Hyland, Nicola; O'Donnell, David