RAPANUI the song of stone

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

16/03/2017 - 18/03/2017

BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

18/02/2017 - 21/02/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Dunedin Fringe 2017

Production Details

Created on Easter Island, this show comes from stone. Stone has a tale to tell, a tale that reaches to the stars and has a place on Earth. Discover a cosmic story carved out through myth, imaginings, song and physicality.

Rapanui- the song of stone is a one-person show. It has been created on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) with a dawn visit to Rapanui (Shag Rock, Christchurch) by intrepid theatre creator, Lisa Allan. These two sites have connections to the Waitaha people of New Zealand and parts of their little-known story are woven into this show.

Lisa has been creating original theatre since 2002 with companies such as The Loopen Experiment (Christchurch), Blackbird Theatre (Christchurch) and Body in Space (Nelson). She is also a healer and remembers lives beyond this one.

This story brings to light a piece of New Zealand history and connects us to our star ancestors. ‘Trust in the great unfolding,’ the stone said. With these words in their hearts, the Lyrans abandoned their planet. Rapanui, the great sternpost, is guiding us home.

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Mt Victoria, Wellington 6011
18-21 Feb 2017
BOOKINGS: fringe.co.nz
TICKETS: $18/$14/$12

FORTUNE Theatre, 233 Stuart St
16-18 March 2017
Thurs 16th, 8pm
Fri 17th, Sat 18th, 6pm


Theatre , Spoken word , Comedy ,

50 mins

Interesting experiment not for sceptics

Review by Kimberley Buchan 18th Mar 2017

When you walk into the studio theatre of the Fortune, Lisa Allen is waiting in the middle of the stage. Each audience member approaches her individually and is given a small tactile stone. A question is whispered in your ear, either: Who are you? Where do you come from? Why are you here?. Allen establishes a connection with every single member of the audience before she has begun her story.

It begins as a meditation on stone (at times overshadowed by the strains of ‘It’s Raining Men’ thumping through the ceiling from the show above us. The audience up there seem to be having a screamingly good time.)

The style and rhythm of Rapanui The Song of Stone at first appears to be going in the direction of tales of ancient wisdom passed on by the fire at the heart of the village for centuries, with the stones on stage being a grounding metaphor for strength against adversity and so on. The storyline quickly becomes disjointed with a random Reiki lesson thrown in and then the symbolic rocks become space ships rescuing the survivors of a destroyed planet. It is disconcerting to say the least.

Allen does eventually gather in most of the strands of the storyline into the narrative of her past lives evolving from another planet to Atlantis to America to Easter Island and finally standing in front of us in the Fringe Festival of Dunedin. This is not a show for sceptics. 

There are two striking features of this one woman performance. One is how Allen makes her use of breath a focus of her act. The other is her sincerity. It glows through her features, her evident enjoyment of sharing her the stories of life (lives?) with us. It is endearing enough for the audience to forgive her when she comes out of role to cover fumbles. 

Rapanui The Song of Stone is an interesting experiment in storytelling that had a heartfelt effect on some members of the audience. Come and see if it will do the same for you. 


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Impressive strength and courage

Review by Erina Daniels 20th Feb 2017

I enjoy that the audience are invested in the ritual-welcome of Rapanui – The Song of Stone.  Upon my entry into the small top studio of Bats, Ms Lisa Allan – performer/writer/co-director, seated on the floor and with a welcoming smile – fans her hands encouragingly.  By the agitation of this movement, I think Ms Allan is hurrying me up to come in, until the audience already seated make indications that I should move to formally greet her.

It is a strange hello – as she remain seated, and I – receiving no guidance to do otherwise, remained standing.  I accept the proffered hand and looming forehead, thinking we are to exchange breath in a hongi – which I feel Ms Allan quickly readjust herself to, as I became aware it is just forehead to forehead contact she has been offering.  

Later in her story, she makes reference to this kind of forehead contact – explaining it as a meeting of minds.  Before I walk through the audience to take up my seat, Ms Allan clinks through her basket of stones before settling upon a small green pebble to offer to me.  I am pleased to accept the company of this stone throughout the duration of the performance, and I have it with me still.  Stone is one of the reasons I was attracted to the title of this Fringe work, as I am always keen to learn more of how humans are connected to the natural elements of the earth – our primary life-support system. 

I learn that we are descendants of stone; that stone has vibrational frequencies accorded to each, and this knowledge was put to use off-planet in the civilisation of Lyra (a scene shows a baby set between two stones – their naturally occurring frequencies reacting with one another resulting in an audible hum that soothes the child through sleep). 

I learn of the author’s specific message through stone – that stone has a song and the song ultimately says, “Who are you?”, “where do you come from?” and “come home”.  There are doubtless plenty more references which stick with others and are not as memorable for me.  If you’re reading this review and would like to share your understandings of the song-messages of stone, I think it’d be a great reflection of what is sticking with audiences for the makers, and also the beginnings of a great discussion of the themes and values of this piece.

We follow the story of the performer and witness her characterisations and embodiments of successive layers of her lives.  We see the invasion of her home planet via a Star Wars-esque bombardment, the stones becoming the flying firing ships and the performer gleefully doing lasery-peow peow sounds as the world gets destroyed. Knowing this is Ms Allan’s story, I wonder if it is painful to re-enact these sequences and hear the audiences’ laughter.  

This is a solo show with multiple characters. The most successful scene featuring two characters is between Lisa (portraying her Native American reincarnation) and her dying Grandfather.  I enjoy the cradling of the largest oval stone as the head of her elder; and the redirection between characters as a transference of a Pounamu pendant takes place. 

When Ms Allan shares in her story that she is learning Te Reo, I wince at the pronunciation, so far wide of the dialectal vowels involved.  When she reveals it is the word ‘Turangawaewae’ she is attracted to, I begin to understand she is attached to the conceptual meaning of a word, as opposed to the specific sound (and vibrational) qualities of its vocalisation.  This detail easily worries me away from my engagement with the piece, as I ponder what it means for Ms Allan to share her character personifications of past lives – all of them from differing cultures: Lyran, Native American, Rapanui … Does language not matter to those who reincarnate? 

Ms Allan delivers her characters with deliberate physical and vocal choices, clearly marking the differences between them.  When she takes on the role of a character, each statement becomes meaningful, and each action, earnest.  At times, it is hard to watch – especially in a long-held moment of grief. 

Her most engaging persona is herself.  When she relaxes with us, and tells the story through her own delightful charm and infectious laugh, we are all spellbound. 

This is the show’s first season with an audience.  I am impressed by the strength and courage of Ms Allan to present her story and I like that this show only ever points us towards a positive message – of connectedness.  After bravely showing us so much of herself, I enjoy the challenge from her: “Who are you and where do you come from?”

Ko Ngati Wai toku iwi; Ko Erina Daniels ahau.  Kia ora.


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