Mischievous chicken heading to Taranaki

A chicken and an aging Samoan woman have been capturing hearts wherever they go. Taranaki Community News caught up with Goretti Chadwick to find out all about Still Life With Chickens ahead of its season at the region’s newest festival – Winter Fest.

Hey Goretti! Your show Still Life with Chickens sees you on stage with a chicken. What’s it like to have a bird as a co-star?
To be honest, it’s just nice to have something/someone other than me on stage, otherwise it’d be a completely solo show and that’s something I’m not personally interested in, or brave enough to do.

I love working with an ensemble, in saying that, there is one in the play, you just don’t see all of them.

When Mama, an ageing Samoan woman, discovers a mischievous chicken invading her veggie plot, her first instinct is to reach for the spade – and the pot.

What is Still Life with Chickens about, and do you find any similarities between Mama’s story, and your own? 
It’s essentially a story about lonlieness and a friendship made in the most unexpected way.

The writer’s mother, the director’s mother and my own are all Samoan, around the same age, but are very different women. Mama is a combo of all three of our mothers.

Still Life With Chickens, by D.F. Mamea and directed by Fasitua Amosa stars Goretti Chadwick, and Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson as the puppeteer.
Credit: Michael Smith

We hear that in your spare time you like to make things, like soap. How did you get into this, and what do you love about it?
I took up researching and creating products for myself and friends seven years ago after realising I was allergic to many store bought products.

Soaping was the last thing I thought I’d venture into because body wash in fancy bottles was cooler to use… but I can say that I’m so grateful for it especially as it’s just another extension of my love of art.

I use organic and natural ingredients sourced from all around the Pacific and even though I’ve been making soap for a few years, I love that no bar will ever turn out the same way and that it’s better for the environment.

The Auckland Theatre Company production is in Taranaki for four shows next month.

As well as being a soap maker and a stage actor, you’re also a screen actor, a writer and a director. How do you manage to fit so much in, and how does this versatility help you?
I love that my career is varied, acting and directing is supported by collaboration, whereas writing and soaping is something I love doing on my own. I don’t think I’d ever be content just doing one of these things.

This year has been the first time I’ve had to juggle acting for theatre and TV, writing animation, voice over work, and writing a TV series and my film (which has now taken seven years to write and still isn’t finished) and then soaping… and it’s been amazing and long may this last.

Still Life with Chickens is an intimate, heart-warming, and funny play about friendship, loss, love, and life. Suitable for audiences aged 10 to 110.
Credit: Michael Smith

With such a varied career you must have a lot of great memories. Any highlights?
I love that one of my darling brothers in the industry, who is no longer with us, got to voice one of my animations this year.

There are many great memories and highlights, but working with a genius such as Pua Magasiva is the only one I can think of. I miss him and I love that the first shows I directed starred him.

He was so supportive of me and I love and miss him dearly. The highlights to come will also have him in mind.

If you could have a dinner party with any three people from history, who would you pick, and what would you talk about?
Other than many family members, I would love to have a dinner party with Samoan Queen Salamasina, Joseph Campbell and James Baldwin. I wouldn’t talk. I would just press record and listen.

  • Still Life With Chickens is on stage in Taranaki as a part of Winter Fest and runs from August 21 to August 25. For more information and for tickets, visit the Winter Fest website.