Review by Taylor Kendal
Reckoning can be defined as ‘the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds’. What better way to do such a thing than to embrace who you are in the now, how your past has lead you to where you are and made you stronger; that has defined your story?
From the mind of Samuel Gaskin and Johnny Hamilton of BEAT Entertainment, and directed by Samuel Gaskin and Michala Banas, comes Reckōning: “Te Waiata Paihere Wairua – The Sounds of Woven Souls”, a one hour multi art form exploration into the intertwining indigenous cultures of New Zealand and Australia through storytelling, song and dance.
My praise for this performance exceeds the words that I can truly use to do it justice. It is raw and emotional and so powerful in many ways, I hope that this mere review can be enough.
Six diverse and remarkable artists, Samuel Gaskin, Candice Lorrae, Kristel Kickett, Piri Neho, Paula Barbee & Mahana Maihi-Taniora lay themselves bare in a deeply moving and profound experience comprised of original songs, dance numbers and sobering depictions of what it is like to find yourself on the outside, always guarded and trying to fit in.
Reckōning is a roller coaster of emotions from the very beginning, and does not shy away from themes that many would consider horrific and heartbreaking. Because if this performance is one thing it is real; these atrocities are very real for so many indigenous peoples, the struggles and the effects of abuse and intergenerational trauma in varying ways.
The performers invite you in; to hear their stories, their roots and their pasts, to witness such beauty and often at times, incredible pain in the form of originals songs and reflections of their past selves and that of their ancestors, and to feel the joy that one can feel when making peace with who you are and where you have come from.
It is clear from the very beginning that this is a labour of love. Every performer involved gives their entire heart and soul to the project; sharing what can be at times incredibly painful, private thoughts and reflections, of themselves and that of their ancestors. It is truly mesmerising to see such a beautiful display of pride for both cultures, with traditional elements entwined with stunning vocals, intricate dance and ceremony, and a kinship that clearly goes beyond the stage limits.
What has been created here is a deep reflection of how important your history is in shaping who you are. How it is both the highs and lows that give you strength and power to become resilient, no matter what gets thrown at you. It is a piece that has arrived in a great time of need, and truly is a shiny beacon that there is joy in the world. That there is beauty and joy in yourself and your story; it makes you you.
The collaboration of multimedia aspects, to the visuals depicted on screen, the costumes and the symbolism shown though the staging and the overall delivery of the piece is mesmerising, and every little detail from the seemingly simple, to the intricate is perfected as a representation of culture, and heart.
Reckōning had this reviewer smiling and crying and dancing and wanting to be part of such a joyful expression of love and power and truth. Samuel Gaskin says that he is ‘changing the world with his heart’, and with this spectacular and stunning performance, he is truly doing just that, and should be proud.
Reckōning: “Te Waiata Paihere Wairua – The Sounds of Woven Souls” is part of Melbourne Fringe Festival until Sunday October 17, and you do not want to miss out.
*Audiences should keep in mind that there is quite a lot of heavy subject matter discussed in the performance, such as self-harm or suicide, sexual assault or abuse and discussions of mental health.
*Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences are advised that this event may contain images, voices and videos of deceased Indigenous persons
Image Credit: Jackson Grant