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'NZ, Samoa maritime past resurfaces in potent new play'

Talune – based on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Tragedy in Samoa

The world premiere of Talune, commemorating the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Samoa, will debut at the Penthouse of the NZ High Commission in London on Monday, 12 November 2018.

The SS Talune was the name of the New Zealand cargo and passenger ship that docked in Apia in November 1918 carrying passengers infected with the deadly influenza virus. The sick were allowed to disembark which resulted in the deaths of 8,500 people, or 22% of the population of Samoa - the highest death rate of any nation during the pandemic. The concept is the brain child of Sani Muliaumaseali’i (English National Opera, Royal Opera House); creative director of London’s first Samoan arts group - the GAFA Arts Collective (GAC).

''A tribute to this little remembered tragedy was something I felt compelled to explore''

“A tribute to this little remembered tragedy was something I felt compelled to explore,” said Muliaumaseali’i who also wrote and directed the play. Set in the lead up to the armistice in Samoa, Talune is seen through the eyes of a young Samoan girl who survives the tragedy. Muliaumaseali’i said it was not an easy topic to write about. “The world was reeling from the horrors of the First World War, when it was suddenly faced with another battle against an invisible and seemingly invincible enemy.” The disease was quick and merciless and victims would simply drop dead in the streets. Whole communities were wiped out within days. Many of the victims ended up in mass graves, robbed of individuality and the dignity of a proper burial. There is much poignancy in Talune which is being premiered at the New Zealand High Commission on the same day Samoa held its armistice celebrations 100 years ago. Talune is based on history, anecdotes and imaginings and boasts an international cast. You can book tickets to the world premiere of this powerful work here.



Talune written and directed by Sani Muliaumaseali’i

November 12, 2018 19:30 - 21:30 with 20min interval Venue: Penthouse, New Zealand High Commission 80 Haymarket, St. James's, London SW1Y 4TE Tickets: £30 & £20 (Concession)

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