Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island
Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island is a book about producing theatre on Rapa Nui by New Zealander Dr Moira Fortin Cornejo.
Rapa Nui Theatre cover and A‘amu Tuai, Tapati Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island, by New Zealander and language and culture specialist Dr Moira Fortin Cornejo, is the first book ever written about producing theatre on Rapa Nui. Moira developed the book by interacting with Rapanui theatre practitioners and community members in ways that allow them to actively take part in her research. The book gives an actor's perspective on rehearsals, costumes and design, and how the theatre uses stage space and other performing arts (such as singing and body painting) in its productions. It describes Rapanui rites, ceremonies and festivities that preceded contemporary theatre, and the socio-political reasons for staging specific stories.
In Rapa Nui, the term used to describe theatre is "a‘amu tuai", which means dramatising old stories. A‘amu tuai is normally performed - outdoors and with live music - for special occasions. Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island explains how the turbulent colonial period prompted Rapa Nui to establish its first theatre troupe in 1975. This troupe has gone on to perform Rapanui oral narratives in the indigenous language, using different areas of the island as the stage.
While most Rapanui speak Spanish, their indigenous language and culture is Oceanic. Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island encourages us to consider the importance of performing arts in the views and knowledge we form about another country's culture. The book’s consideration of indigenous forms of oral and visual communication in performing arts makes it of interest to other indigenous people. Different colonial histories and languages have prevented Rapanui and Māori engaging with each other and sharing their experiences of colonialisation. However, through this book, Moira hopes that Rapanui and Māori will start to have conversations about performing arts, activities and festivals, and how they can provide a safe environment to explore the challenges that these communities face.
In Rapa Nui Theatre: Staging Indigenous Identities in Easter Island, Moira describes her own experience living on this remote Pacific island; she gives personal insights into its fascinating performance traditions. Moira has been influenced by Rapanui culture since her grandmother moved there in the 1970s. Moira spent 12 years on Rapa Nui, teaching drama at Aldea Educativa (a local school) and learning Rapa Nui's language, history and oral narratives by performing in dance group.
Published 02 November 2023
"Learning about a country's performing arts opens up a huge door to understanding its culture."
Published in 2023
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