On Thursday night, I was invited to the PNG Arts Extravaganza launch. It was a night of music, laughter, art, and performance. The performances included music by a local group of young people, a native comedy sketch that had me falling off my seat in laughter, and dance performances by the Siassi Islanders. It was a fabulous night!
The music was a nice blend of modern with more than a touch of jazz, and traditional tribal sounds. Doesn't sound like a good mix? You'd be surprised, I think. I was.
The art work that was for sale included a wide range of styles and subjects. The focus was primarily on local themes, however, since PNG offers so much diversity in such a small place. I almost purchased a couple of pieces myself, but decided to hold off for a bit and see what other opportunities come up in the next few weeks as September will be filled with cultural events.
The one-man comedy sketch was just hilarious. He started off with actions that clearly indicated he was a man alone on a fishing trip. Dressed in traditional garb, he also made it a point to let the audience know that the mosquitoes were having a time with him. And as is typical of a person alone, anything that itched got scratched...no matter the location on the body! As the story progressed, we soon figured out that the man had a bit of a stomach ache coming on. The passing of gas and the accompanying facial expressions were so very funny. But the climax of the story came when he finally had to "do his business" without letting go of his fishing line. When he grabbed a handful of leaves and began wiping his backside, he hooked a really big one. Not wanting to let go, and needing both hands free for the job, he reacted by accidentally shifting the handful of leaves to his mouth. The result was absolutely hilarious. The actor was quite the showman!
I also got to get up close and personal with three Asaro mudmen. These guys are famous in my part of the world and an encounter like this is rare indeed. I was thrilled for the opportunity!
Finally, it was time for the Siassi Islanders to perform. The good friend who invited me to the event is from Siassi and arranged for the islanders to come to Moresby. Most (if not all) have never been on an airplane nor visited the capital. Coming here is a long and difficult journey, but to do it in a large group with all of their elaborate costumes in tow is nothing short of extraordinary! On Thursday night, I got to see the dances and costumes that have been passed down for many generations from the Siassi peoples, something that most PNG nationals have never gotten to experience. It was so very rich! After the show, my friend introduced me to the dance troupe and I was surprised when they applauded. The whole interaction was just incredibly humbling and wildly exotic. And I just received an invitation to join them again tomorrow for more fun!