Play encourages Pasifika families to discuss mental wellness

By Regan Paranihi

The play Odd Daphne is making its way back to the theatre stage this year following its success in 2019.

It draws on the life of writer and director Joshua Iosefo, who addresses the realities of being Pasifika today.

The play aims to raise awareness about the mental wellbeing of Pasifika families. 

"The encouragement is that more Pasifika families really start to talk about mental wellness in their homes," Iosefo says.

The story is close to home for Iosefa and one that he wants to share with his community.

"That time in my life with my family and myself was pretty dark and was quite challenging," he says. 

"So I thought one way to shed light on this situation, and to help other families going through similar things, is to write a play and to show everyone the journey we go through, so that we can hopefully help those going through similar experiences."

This creative zone is a platform that gives Iosefo a voice.

"Plays and theatre and any type of art is really a way to connect to people on a completely different level," he says.

"As Pasifika people we're storytellers and so the way we connect to our own is through stories."

The underlying message of mental wellness in Pasifika families is key in this play.

"Just hoping to encourage further conversation because there is a lot of work to be done," Iosefo says.

Taking the play to various Pasifika communities is definitely something he would love to do.

"I would love that, I would so love that. If anything, I think that would be an amazing opportunity."

The second season of Odd Daphne runs from 12-15 February at the Māngere Arts Centre.