Despite her tender years, she leads them on great journeys and epic battles with other tribes. Her name is Sine Kepu.
She lived over a thousand years ago but her clan still survives today on the island of Misima, as does her legend.
In the play, Sine Kepu is portrayed by Hananiah Dickson, a 17-year old PNG national whose tiny frame belies the dynamic, powerful presence she brings to the stage.
Ms Dickson enjoys playing the lead role in the play, a tale of the Meisoga people in Milne Bay written by 16-year old student Andrew Kuliniasi.
“Meisoga explores the life and culture at that time and age and what people had to do to survive,” says Ms Dickson of the play that examines cannibalism, intra-familial marriage, inter-tribal bloodshed and centuries old customs and traditions.
Despite her diminutive size, Hananiah’s not intimidated by having to show the ferocity and courage the real Sine Kepu wielded in ensuring her clan’s survival.
“Sine Kepu is shy and withdrawn to begin with. Once her sister dies she has to find the strength in herself to carry on her sister’s role of being the clan’s matriarch and making huge decisions for her people.
“But from a shy, timid girl she becomes a powerful matriarch. I enjoy playing the role because personally I can relate to her,” says Hananiah.
Hananiah says Sine Kepu provides a lesson for modern Papua New Guinea, especially regarding the role gender plays in the community.
“PNG needs more women like Sine Kepu,” says Hananiah defiantly.
The play, also directed by Andrew Kuliniasi, features traditional music and dance, a hair-raising encounter with a sorcerer, and spear fights between warring tribes. It will run at 7.30pm March 23, 24 and 25, and at 1pm on March 26 at the Moresby Arts Theatre in Magaini Crescent. Tickets are available at the Waterfront Supermarket, Boroko Foodworld and Moresby Arts Theatre.
Picture: Hanahniah Dickson plays the lead role of Sine Kepu in Meisoga.