Loose Canons: Moana Ete

Theatre

17.02.2017

Loose Canons: Moana Ete

Loose Canons is a series where we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Multi-talented Wellington artist Moana Ete is of Ngai Tahu, Ngāti Wheke, Rāpaki and Savai’i, Samoa, Falealupo, Lalomalava. Nurturing a creative background that spans theatre, film and music, Moana draws from this rich foundation to curate the Pūtahi Festival 2017 – a performance platform created to enable more opportunities for Māori and Pasifika writers, directors, musicians, dancers, designers, actors and companies to develop and nurture new work in central Wellington. The festival, produced by Tawata Productions in association with Victoria University Wellington and now in its fourth year, runs from February 22 - 25 at Studio 77 and features new work from musicians/theatre makers Mara TK & Tola Newberry, playwright/performer Ali Foa'i, and theatre company Everybody Cool Lives Here. Moana lets us in on some of her creative inspirations here.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

I meet people now who make me think ‘Gee, that person knows a heck of a lot’. My Step Dad Bruce, for example, knows a lot of things. Facts, the years that significant events took place, strangers’ first and last names, sports teams’ stats, random lyrics… Just lots of interesting facts that he picks up and stores. All the minute details that someone like me lets fly over their head seem to funnel themselves into Bruce’s ears and arrange themselves neatly in his brain. People like me, who don’t remember shit, need people like my step dad, so it’s no wonder that people all over the world just like me need people like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

He’s an astrophysicist and has held numerous positions at institutions including the University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Hayden Planetarium. But more importantly, he’s a Science Communicator who knows a heck of a lot and never loses sight of the humanity of science when doing this work. The factors that unify us as earthlings, animals, plants, organisms, rock, minerals. The very things that frighten us, disgust us, delight us and attract us to one thing over the other, all made from the same thing. Neil teaches this and the more I believe this, the more fulfilling and beautiful life is for me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson taught me just how important the work of the scientist is. Just as firmly as I think performance and art are important for humanity, so too is science and our understanding of the universe we live in. The pursuit of what is just and true is the same in art as it is in science and that is just the most exciting shit ever.

Wellington

Since joining the Fly My Pretties cast for their latest album, ‘String Theory’, I’ve gained two reputations: one as ‘the lightweight who can’t handle her alcohol’, and the other as ‘the Wellington chick’.

I grew up in Island Bay. My memories of childhood are mostly riding bikes with my Dad along The Parade. I remember trips to Frank Kitts Park and fireworks on the waterfront. I love this city. I love its quirks, its history, its landscapes, its ‘not ghetto ghettos’, its fancy areas, its beaches and, yes, I even love its weather. I often sing about the wind and cold in my songs. It’s such a big part of who I am.

Wellington weather is the ultimate ‘build a bridge and get over it’ life message though - right? Its weather teaches me.

Anything can happen at any time.

Skin-to-skin contact is the best heater.

Always, always, appreciate the good days.

When I’m away, I can’t wait to come back. I am so incredibly proud to have been born here and to live here. I see myself having children here and living here till I’m grey and old. I love this city.

Being alone

Last year, on the last day of our lease on a one bedroom apartment in Thorndon, my relationship with my then-boyfriend ended. The next day I moved into a big room in Mt Victoria, intended for the both of us, by myself. I went from living with a person who I loved and loved me to being completely alone. That evening in my new room I set up my dining table, put together my pellet bed and wardrobe, organised all of my things, chucked up some bunting, uploaded a cute pic of my room to Instagram (I am very good with interiors because I spend way too much time on Pinterest), climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling. At that moment I thought, ‘Oh Mo. It’s so nice to spend time with you again.’

At 26, coming out of a long term relationship, being alone was the greatest gift I could have given myself. In fact, it was in that crucial period of loneliness that I remembered all the times in my childhood where being alone brought me the deepest feelings of peace and clarity. The fondest memories I have of being a child are of when I would find a corner in the house or garden to play in and just talk to myself for hours, just straight up have a good old yarn with no one in particular about nothing particularly interesting. The more time I spend with other people’s kids now, the more comfortable I feel about talking about it because, as it turns out, it’s not at all weird or special but actually super important for child development.

I wonder if it should ever stop. I feel like, with proper practice and understanding, loneliness is a superpower that has the power to heal and empower. It’s super easy too! But it has to be real loneliness. Netflix, listening to music, masturbation, reading - those don’t quite count as ‘alone time’ for me. Immersing myself in someone’s world in film or television or sound or longing for affection in the throes of physical self-pleasing is not what I’m talking about. Real loneliness is about breathing, silence, stillness. I like to think of it as creating intricate tunnels from my head to my heart to courier amusing stories, secret messages, wish lists and love notes.

The Spice Girls

Emma Bunton / Baby Spice is my favourite because she is very kind and smiles a lot and she’s always so nice to everyone and very sweet. You can tell that all the other Spice Girls love her so much and treat her like their baby sister and that’s how I think all women should treat each other.

Mel C / Sporty Spice is my favourite because she always looks comfortable in sneakers and likes to do high-kicks in the air to show that she is not only a beautiful lady but she can kick people in the faces.

Mel B / Scary Spice is my favourite because she is the loudest of them all and when it comes to her part in the song she nails it. Everyone thinks that Mel C is the only one who can sing but actually I think Mel B is the best singer because her voice is so nice and very smooth.

Victoria is my favourite and she nailed it in ‘Spice World: The Movie’. She is the best actor in the movie. If you cannot bring yourself to see the movie just watch it for Victoria. She does all the emotions real well.

Geri / Ginger Spice is my favourite because she always brings everything back to Girl Power. Geri told me that I was capable for anything simply for the fact that I was a girl. I believed her and now I do whatever the hell I want because Girl Power.

The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay

It comes as a surprise to some people that I take my self-help very seriously. I love Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert and Iyanla Vanzant and Tony Robbins. I have had a life coach. We’re now friends, even, and she is still a voice in my life that I lean on and come back to when I want to get serious and in the zone.

This book was all of that for me: all of these speakers and my life coach in one short, easy-to-read book. The Defining Decade is a reminder that no, actually, your 30s are not the new 20s, and hell no, we are not too young to be making big decisions in our lives. This book was the first one to say to me (and I paraphrase), ‘If you’re in a good relationship and you both want kids eventually consider it now rather than later’; ‘If you want the life, the job and the purpose that makes you happy to get up every morning, find it and pursue it now’; ‘Now is the time to think about this shit.’ This is the decade: do it all now and make the 30, 40s and onwards about travel and adventures and truly finding yourself on a whole new level.

The only part I disagree with is what Dr Jay has to say about the ages 20-25. I think 20-25 this is crucial piss-around time, time to make mistakes and fall over and get back up. I think this is very important. But certainly for 25-30 this book is everything.

I’m 27 turning 28. I’ve got two more years to line things up. It’s two years and two months of bold living and ‘strong offers’ for my life. This book gave me that spring in my step. The fire in my belly.

I'm watching my own space.


The Pūtahi Festival runs from February 22 – 25 at Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Terrace

You can find tickets here

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