SCATTERGUN: After the Death of Rūaumoko

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

28/07/2022 - 30/07/2022

Suter Theatre, Nelson

26/10/2022 - 27/10/2022

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

18/04/2024 - 04/05/2024

Nelson Arts Festival 2022

Production Details


Written and performed by Ana Scotney

2024 Creative Team:
Creator, writer, performer: Ana Chaya Scotney
Director: Sophie Roberts

2022: Directed by Stella Reid and Eleanor Bishop

2024 Presented by:
Silo Theatre with support from Q Theatre

2022: Produced by Marnie Karmelita | Presented by Kōtiro Publishing Giant


2024

ScatterGun weaves together poetry, movement and sound, with the voices of whānau from Tūhoe, in a celebration of the profound connection between the human body and te whenua ūkaipō (homeland).

Q Theatre Loft
18 April – 4 May 2024
Tuesday & Wednesday, 7pm
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 8pm
Sunday, 5pm
$30 – $65 (plus service fees)
Book Now

Content warnings:
Contains references to mental illness, death, grief, depictions of cannabis use, and some coarse language. Also contains haze and loud noises.

“I found that all I am accountable to, in truth, is the tiny dot of black at the centre of the iris.
The pupil, some mini pitch black night sky, and beyond – The Great Formless.
It was buzzy, man.” — ScatterGun

Over the course of one long, winding night, Agnes takes us on a journey; from the memorial for her little brother, Rūaumoko, through the twisted streets of the city, that mirror the sinews and synapses of her internal world. Together, we dive deep into the inky void, emerging into the flaring neon of a new day.

ScatterGun: After the Death of Rūaumoko examines the relationship between displacement, grief and the healing power of home, in a refreshingly honest, joyful exploration of the urban consciousness.

Multidisciplinary artist Ana Chaya Scotney (Ngai Tūhoe) delivers a masterclass in solo performance, accompanied by her trademark loop pedal. Ana weaves together poetry, movement and sound, with the voices of whānau from Tūhoe, in a celebration of the profound connection between the human body and te whenua ūkaipō (homeland).

2022

Joyfully and honestly exploring themes of diaspora, marvelling at the forces of tectonic power and the natural world, what binds us, as tangata, beneath the divisive architecture of the modern time?

Class, race, gender, power and identity politics, Indigenous longing
Tīhei Mauri Ora!

“All I am accountable to in truth, is the dot of black at the centre of the iris, some mini pitch black night sky, and beyond, the great formless.”

“I was looking at the seams of alcohol writhing through his negroni glass like pregnant long fin tuna.”

Basement Theatre, Auckland
28 July – 30 July 2022
Suter Theatre, Nelson
18 April – 4 May 2022


2022

Created and performed by: Ana Chaya Scotney
Initially researched with: Eleanor Bishop
In Kōrero with the whanau: Iwa, Atamira, Toia, Uncle Fi, Audrey, Gee, Nika, Tame, Freddy, Erin Music/ Score: Haz and Charlotte Forrester
Performance Directed by: Stella Reid 
Dramaturgy: Eleanor Bishop, Puti Lancaster


Performance Poetry , Solo , Theatre ,


1 hr 15 min

The audience shout accolades, rising and roaring “Bravo, bravo”.

Review by Sandi Hall 21st Apr 2024

 “Who are we now?” asks Ana Chaya Scotney’s intermittent Scattergun narrator, her voice at once challenging and curious.  That voice grips a packed audience in Auckland’s Q Loft at the April 19th premiere of Ms Scotney’s creation Scattergun: after the death of Rūaumoko.  Her narrator’s rapid-fire delivery echoes the sound of a scattergun, a type of 19thC gun, used here in Aotearoa, which fired many kinds of projectiles, all lethal.

LOL, LOL, LOL reacted the audience to Ms Scotney’s opening and witty narrative. It punctures old-air thinking. It asks questions such as whether “you’ve got your Treaty money yet” and the value “of your Saturn return.”

On Filament Eleven 11’s brilliantly-minimalist set, neon lighting gives shape to non-existent forms – there is no earthquake, but the writhing of Ms Scotney’s body is supported by anxiously flicking and streaking neon light, rising swiftly from earth to sky, and we are there, the earth humping and falling beneath us. Unsettling.

Wrought out of the immense feelings around the death, 5 years ago, of her 25-year-old brother, this one-woman show has seventeen characters. These characters are alluded to, are enigmatic, but include people influential in our contemporary lives. They are all ‘uncles’, says Ms Scotney, in the creation of Scattergun: after the death of Rūamoko.  

Also important to its genesis was her youthful experience of whaikōrero, the unpretentious theatrics of a marae, where of an evening, people stand and act and speak the truths of their hearts. 

My Companion was particularly pleased to hear Zurich mentioned, being the titan of Switzerland’s banking locations. That neatly encapsulates the role of money in both colonialist and today’s financially oppressive practices.

Rūaumoko, in Māori mythology, is a child of Papatuanuku and Ranginui. Rūaumoko strives to be born, struggling mightily in Papatuanuku’s womb while becoming the god of earthquakes and volcanoes in the process. Both of these, as Ms Scotney’s narrative says, “shift the mantleof Earth, create new shapes, while destroying others.

But that “little god baby” as Ms Scotney describes him, has not yet found his way out of Papatuanuku’s womb. On our shaky isles, we can still feel him trying to find that exit.

Creation stories have been told for as long as humans have had mouths. For example, China’s creation myth about its beginnings, interesting because China is the world’s oldest civilisation, has two equal forces each constantly striving for dominance.

The later Sumerian civilisation (up to 2500BC) believed the universe came into being when Nammu, the primal waters (birth waters?), gave birth to Ki, the earth, and An, the sky, who mated to produce a son, Enlil.  Versions of this story are found in all civilizations, speaking of a major struggle leading to the birth of a male child, as in Christianity.

Until feminism opened my eyes, this reviewer used to wonder why it was always a male child who was born. I knew, even at 10 years old, that male children do not have a womb, so cannot nurture Life or give birth.  But “Who is telling the story?” asks feminism. “Why might that view be important to that person?”

We clearly see why Scattergun’s creator tells the story she does. The “little god baby” Rūaumoko aptly represents Māori Nation today, flailing to get out of the womb, to fully exist on its own terms, with its own values in the ascendant. It is undeniable that myth and legends give gravitas to any civilization. Plays, poems, stories, novels – all are helping that little god baby push through the birth canal to be here and bask in the light of day.

Passing down stories of “how it happened” shows humans as “thinking” beings.  Being able to think, we believe, gives human life an importance that spurs future effort and creates pride.

In my view, it is invaluable that this very-contemporary “how it happened” story is brought alive by a woman, and one who is the epitome of a Pasifika woman – fecund hair, strong body, lively eyes, a mouth which does not speak platitudes.

Barely lifting her voice above a cultured murmur, Ms Scotney’s rapid-fire delivery challenges her audience in fruitful ways. She speaks of something many have felt, of being in a “spiritual crevasse” while also being the target of “cosmic violence”. 

We know chaos is alive in today’s world, and this play, which deserves a place in the international gallery of BIP’s (brilliant, important plays) energises tonight’s audience.  When the Narrator disappears, we the audience shout our accolades, rising to our feet and roaring “Bravo, bravo”.

Nine more performances left.

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A Shakespeare for all New Zealand

Review by Ruth Allison 26th Oct 2022

Ana Chaya Scotney’s Scattergun: After the Death of Rūaumoko is a Shakespeare for all New Zealand. Her wise, witty, warmhearted Agnes aka Scattergun has a lot to say about the world but she is also grounded in her place as an indigenous New Zealander. With her wild mane of dark curling hair and her athletic figure Scotney is a forceful presence on the stage.

For over 70 minutes the audience is treated to wide ranging, loosely chronological narrative of Agnes’s life so far. Like a scattergun which fires off a large number of small metal bullets, Agnes dives headfirst into everything and anything.

Mourning the death of her brother Rūaumoko at a five year memorial, Scattergun engages in some serious questioning. She has returned from a memorial for her father too. Her mother is drinking heavily with a group of property dealers.  Her older brother is engaged in an intense intellectual dialogue with his girlfriend on the merits of nature versus nurture. An old school friend ‘Old Mate’ chats her up.

Her response to these encounters is rapid: quickfire monologues and like Shakespeare’s fools the result is madcap, clever and insightful. From her birth, through her upbringing, her schooling, her unsuccessful foray into a job in Melbourne and her ignominious return home, Agnes entertains us with her honest and insightful commentaries.

English and Te Reo are comfortable bed mates throughout this glorious journey. We are with her all the way. Her Māori and Pākehā heritage is woven into a strong sense of wairua and whenua ‘the kete of my life’. The New Zealand landscape and the natural world play a big part too. The kererū and piwakawaka come alive through seductive hand gestures and the fascination with volcanic action is highlighted by clever lighting and sound.

The show begins with the ominous arrival of an earthquake, cleverly mimed by Scotney, foreshadowing the untimely death of her brother who is named in honour of the god of earthquakes and volcanoes. It ends with Scattergun/Scotney offering the audience a kōhatu, a stone, and counsel to make use of her reflections.

She has given us a gift: one thoroughly deserving of the standing ovation it received in return.

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Awe-inspiring, hilarious, unpredictable: a work of spiritual richness and immense artistic integrity

Review by Andrew Gunn 29th Jul 2022

Ana Scotney (Ngāti Tāwhaki) has always been a shape-shifter, effortlessly switching between different mediums.  Whether you’ve seen her act in a feature film like The Breaker Upperers or Cousins, her exquisite acapella 2020 debut album as Kōtiro, or in one of her absurd lo-fi pieces released on vimeo (Dance of Lonely Birds), her talent is intimidatingly clear.  As is the fact that she isn’t stopping any time soon.

Scattergun: After the Death of Rūaumoko was originally developed in 2020, as part of the Basement’s Ideas in Residence initiative, by Scotney with the support of Eleanor Bishop.  The two had the intention of creating a poem of epic scale, reflecting on conflicting relationships with place and belonging.  Since then the work has been fine-tuned and directed back in the home turf of Wellington by Stella Reid.  The show has been performed once so far, as a development season, at the New Zealand Fringe in Wellington at BATS Theatre.  This is the show’s second season and is directed by Eleanor Bishop.

Scotney slowly enters the stage and, with a glint in her eye, she takes a moment to check her audience.  Her energy is serene; full of care for those in front of her.

Then her arms rise to the ceiling, and she lunges forward.  Still exposed under the house lights, she glides around the space on her haunches and enacts the “cosmic violence” that defines the mythic realm of the play.  It is one part ritual movement, yet vocalized sound effects – “BOOSH!” – gives the sense of a child at play.

She then crouches over a sequencer and begins to create a dense live polyphony of rumbling noise.  She repeats the movements with ritualised intensity over this soundscape, this time with a dreamlike red lighting. With fingers clawing a flexed belly, and a pukana, she embodies a pouwhenuaand gasses up her mokopuna, talking up her on-fleek nails and heels.  Her mokopuna is the protagonist, Scattergun.

Within the first ten minutes, Scotney, Bishop and Reid have created a clear theatrical language for the play: heightened and sincere, yet never afraid to poke fun at itself.

On one level, the play occurs across the space of a single night; starting at a gathering in the Viaduct to commemorate the passing of Scattergun’s younger brother, Rūaumoko, who passed away five years previously.  Yet the veil between reality and a timeless mythic realm – or the realm of Scattergun’s colossal imagination – is always paper thin.  Rūaumoko is also named after the atua of natural disasters and seasonal change; mourning his absence gives an extra layer to the metaphorical structure of the piece.

The play hovers in the threshold between these two worlds.  Upon this boundary, and as the characters at the memorial get drunker and drunker, we get to a point where we aren’t quite sure if we are listening to the verbatim dialogue of the characters or an expressionistic deeper reality that dives into their deepest anxieties, teasing out no-holds-barred arguments about land ownership, class and race.

Scattergun feels a total disconnect from the family present, and the values most of them hold.  A glib question regarding Scattergun’s property aspirations prompts her to completely deconstruct his question, pointing out its inherent absurdity since New Zealand’s property market is based on stolen land.  The stakes rise higher, and higher, and then Scattergun staggers back into the night.  Lost, yet holding a deep sense of inquiry close to her.

“All I am accountable to in truth, is the dot of black at the centre of the iris, some mini pitch-black night sky, and beyond, the great formless.  (It was buzzy, man!  I had vertigo!)”

Her sadness seems deeper than the grief for her brother; she asks herself if it is an inherited sadness from a predecessor.

Over the course of the night, we meet a whole plethora of characters: estranged family members, a former love interest, and an enigmatic kid who offers her a joint after asking if she believes in the Illuminati.  Scotney switches between them seamlessly, the most minute change in posture and voice can denote a change in character, even in the most fast-paced conversations.  A kereru enters the space, simply suggested by the motion of Ana’s hands, and the imitation of the sound of its beating wings.

The play’s deepest moments of connection and emotional intimacy are with those that are absent from the increasingly sad reality in front of her: her whanau back in the rohe, grounded in their Maoritanga.  We see memories of a heavily pregnant aunt describing the feeling of drawing strength from the land, her hand first touching the ground, then touching her belly.  The bravado of an uncle talking about his days in the Mongrel Mob in the eighties softens as he begins to describe the traditional trading routes taken by their hapu along a certain river.

Then, in a blink, we are jolted back into the urban self-consciousness of the Viaduct, where such firm confidence in one’s cultural identity and relationship with the land seem far more difficult to achieve.  A vision of herself in her ancestral homeland comes at the most unexpected moment, and then is punctured by a comic, yet fierce argument.

Yet she is in the process of finding an inner strength from within her grief; the emotional arc of the play is towards hope and healing.

After the memorial, we see Scattergun deep in an internet wormhole, in which she does a deep dive into the geology of the country.  She wonders how landscape shapes the people upon it, how power is encoded in rock.  How one draws different kinds of strength from the nature of the earth beneath one’s feet; one people draws it from basalt, another from porous limestone.  The tectonic movements beneath us are the domain of Rūaumoko; they promise renewal.

The design of the play is minimal.  There is no set, all design is purely light and sound (designed respectively by Isadora Lao and Scotney).  This works to the advantage of the play, as anything that detracted attention from Scotney’s voice and body in performance would detract from the language of the piece.

In past interviews, Scotney has spoken of the importance of telling stories with aroha.  This could not be more clear; she holds such a generous presence onstage as a storyteller.  Scattergun is an extraordinary achievement; awe-inspiring, hilarious and unpredictable.  Scotney is so fluent in this unique theatrical language, that you cannot help but be completely transported.

Scattergun: After the Death of Rūaumoko is a work of spiritual richness and immense artistic integrity.  I wish Scotney, Reid and Bishop all the best with its further life – it needs to be seen.

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