5 Min Read

Resistance and Resilience: Takatāpui

Immerse yourself in an “electrifying storm of story and sound” with Takatāpui created by antidisciplinary artist Daley Rangi.

In the dual role of writer and performer Rangi shares their own experience living at the intersection to explore a range of issues connected to identity and bodily integrity. We spoke with Daley to get insight into the inner workings of the piece, debuting at The Blue Room Theatre on Feb 4.

For those who have never seen a Daley Rangi show, what can they expect? Or not expect?

At the risk of scaring audiences away (hello soon-to-be-audience!) expect nothing, or at least temper your expectations. Usually, the description of the work is pretty much…what the work is. Side by side my projects wax and wane in what they’re responding to, and what forms they crave, but there’s a soft thread you can pull on. Resistance, and resilience. Maybe. Perhaps that thread, as art, feels worn already to many. To me, that’s all art is. Storytelling runs thick in my blood, trickling sands of time scattered by my kin.

Where and how did your journey start with this piece?

It feels like I’ve only just started. Truly. I wrote it in early-2020 and the world has shifted, titled, a shadow slightly lifted since then. It’s certainly not irrelevant, probably more relevant than ever, and therefore feels immense to bring to life – even if it’s ultimately quite a minimalist piece of storytelling. My journey with the story began when the events of the work first haunted me, and these ghosts will never leave. But they become more distant, old friends, somehow. That takes therapy, and rest, and kindness. The latter should not just be for yourself, but others too. Trauma and memory are intriguing allies, and nemeses. Certain words, and sounds, and images are branded onto your brain forever – other things fall by the wayside, and you reach for them, grasping at air. Sometimes you try to fill in the blanks, to varying levels of comfort. Sometimes you just want to ignore it, or let the waves wash over you. For me, the specific trauma of the work feels safe to share, in how I’ve sculpted it – no longer a dirty word, or a dirty secret. But there’s certainly nothing clean about it.

Daley Rangi photography by Andrea Lim

Can you explain the meaning of the word Takatāpui and why you chose it as the title of this work?

Takatāpui is a show about the day to day (or, perhaps, night to night) meanderings in a queer, Māori body, and a specific kaleidoscope of events related to that. My experience currently is a fluid understanding of gender and sexuality, and an overwhelming disconnection from culture – both slowly being sutured, stitch by unwieldy stitch. The term, Takatāpui, the title of the show, is little more than a descriptor of myself, essentially the te reo Māori translation of queer, but also specifically Māori. But more than that, it’s a way to reclaim my bodily integrity through ancestral means, and viewed through a holistic, Māori lens. The work isn’t even really about the word at the end of the day, but rather, the intricately flawed human behind it. In English, my identity could be described in a myriad of ways, none of which are truly comforting – I insistently question who is writing the definitions of them. Non-binary still works though, we chill.

In the piece you’ll be “perched on a toilet and armed with a microphone”, what can you reveal about this unique staging decision?

We’ll see how many people read this far, but there’s not actually a toilet in the show…technically. I also use more than ‘just’ a microphone, but we won’t get into the semantics of how my voice processor and looping pedal fit into that.

What conversations do you hope to spark with Takatāpui and who needs to hear these messages?

Anyone who has the energy to listen, frankly, but I’m more interested in the energy for action. Bodily integrity is the key to better collective futures for the marginalised communities with which I intersect. This may feel irrelevant to your question, but I’ve melted a bit over the past seven hundred days – dissolving into a desire to exchange the tiring labour and optimism that comes with ‘conversation’, for deeper listening, connection, and, yes, action. I’m six feet deep of thick, sticky cynicism, I admit that, and my art often reflects that – a bloody trail of footprints. But wounds have begun to close. I’m very proud of what I’ve written. But it’s complex. Trauma is complex. Healing is complex. Takatāpui is complex. That what’s I hope to spark. This is actually a work of love, and truth. But love hurts. Truth hurts. Maybe one day we’ll all sit together and watch the sun rise on a better world, and maybe a word or two I once wrote is warm dust on that morning breeze.

Takatāpui runs from Feb 4 to 12 at The Blue Room Theate