Playwright Dianna Fuemana believes Nora Aati is the next best thing in theatre. The writer of the one-woman play Mapaki, which means ``broken'' in Niuean, says she knew Nora, of Manurewa, was the only young Pacific Island actress under 25 who could do the role justice. One might think that's rather high praise for someone who has recently graduated from Unitec's performing arts school. Mapaki, first performed by Ms Fuemana, is an evocative story of changing cultural realities. The poignant and complex drama is about Fisi, a young Niuean woman who is surviving a web of fantasy and violence. Ms Fuemana, a cousin of Pauly How Bizarre Fuemana, says she's been keeping her eye out for a young, up and coming actress, and Nora is ``right on the money''. Nora, 20, who's chuffed with being cast in Mapaki, says her vivid imagination from childhood made her embrace drama. ``I used to pretend to be a detective, hiding in my parents' garden.'' The young actress is the first to admit she lacks experience. ``My mother, who works for Child, Youth and Family, has helped me understand the psyche of women inflicted with violence.'' The whole experience of working on the one-woman production has ``stretched me physically, mentally and emotionally. ``In some instances it has made me go to emotional places that I would not have visited, given the choice.'' Nora feels particularly fortunate to have parents who support her decision to become an actress. ``I won't be surprised if my family turn up every night. ``After all, it's not uncommon for my dad to stand up and cry at the end of my performances.'' Mapaki, Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Feb 15-25, 8pm (except 6pm on Sundays).
Tickets Ticketek, ph 307 5000 or see www.ticketek.co.nz - by Sharu Delilkan