Samuel Gaskin unites First Nations Australian and New Zealand song and dance in his latest moving production which serves as a celebration of his heritage.
Trigger warning: The following article delves into themes of racial and sexual abuse.
RECKŌNING Te Waiata Paihere Wairua - The Sounds of Woven Souls ended its second run at the Melbourne Fringe Festival on Sunday, October 17.
The show was recorded at Hamer Hall in 2020 in preparation for streaming. The Fringe Festival was held online for its second consecutive year.
Created by singer and actor Samuel Gaskin, RECKŌNING Te Waiata Paihere Wairua is a personal story of growing up Indigenous in a colonised society .
Born in New Zealand with African, Māori, Welsh and English heritage, Samuel moved with his family to Australia as a child.
Through intense moments of the show, the audience is given a horrific glimpse into the pain Samuel felt throughout his life. While attending school in Australia, Samuel was abused for looking different, and suffered years of sexual abuse from his step father.
As this pain took its toll, Samuel wants to escape it all, but tells us “if only I knew then what I knew now.”
In a moving scene, one of Samuel’s ancestors appears on stage to deliver a letter telling him about the year 2020. Alongside the craziness of the pandemic, the letter reveals Samuel is now happy and has found love.
Throughout the production, there is a mix of Maori and Aboriginal artists sharing their culture through song and dance, culminating in the song RECKŌNING.
The song and show features Candice Lorrae of Jawoyn and Thursday Islander heritage and Nyoongar Ballardong Whadjuk woman Kristel Kickett, who perform together as The Merindas, as well as Māori performers Piri Neho, Paula Barbee, and Mahana Maihi-Taniora.
RECKŌNING originated from an idea Samuel had when he wondered what would happen if he brought Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Māori performers together in the studio. It’s the highlight of the entire show as it brings each of the performers together for its finale.
A lot has been put into this show and it’s frustrating that we still can’t see it in person as the Melbourne performance scene is just leaving restrictions.But even at home, the stories remain emotionally touching.
While its run at Melbourne Fringe is over, Samuel Gaskin has said they hope to perform in front of a live audience in the future. So don’t worry, you haven’t missed your chance to see it just yet.