I thoroughly enjoy the creative work that goes into the design and implementation of events. The process is very similar to filmmaking in that various disciplines, skills and talents harmonise to create a public spectacle. I have of course contributed to, or recorded, many events over the years but here I want to share with you the most complete and diversely fulfilling project to date, working with the Centre for Pacific Studies in St Andrews, Scotland.
A Celebration of Oceania Cultures & Marine Environments
This ‘event’ was actually an epic collection of related events spanning the first six months of 2015 and culminating in the theatrical performance of ‘MOANA – The Rising of the Seas’ by the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews. The theatre was also host to a bountiful exhibition that extended to all of its three floors and part of my job was to design the spaces and smooth the interface between the artistic and the academic worlds as they embraced one another at The Byre. The building was converted into the essence of a Pacific Island; the lower ground floor being the marine environment, the ground floor the surface under threat, and the upper floor the sky and a place of spirits, the frigate bird, the space station ….
Decolonising Climate Change
‘Coming to terms with the human relations and dimensions of climate change also requires decolonising the mind, and overturning old assumptions about the world.
Climate change is evidence of a bad model of how the social relations that connect us all are currently conceived.
Globally, our life choices are intimately connected, but we have poorly developed ways of thinking about social relations and social responsibilities that exist between people who live at a distance from each other, and equally poorly developed ways of thinking about the relations and responsibilities to the non-human components and companions that we live in close proximity with.
Of course, Pacific peoples have long had their own ideas about these connections, and don’t see the problems in the same way. Perhaps the social and cosmological visions of Pacific peoples can offer some helpful provocations to Europe?’.
Dr Tony Crook, Centre for Pacific Studies, University of St Andrews
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Oceania Dance Theatre & Pasifika Voices
executive producer & original story
director & choreographer
Peter Rockford Espiritu
musical director, original score & music
original lyrics & cultural advisor
PASIFIKA VOICES AND THE ASTRONAUT
In 2015, dancers and singers from Fiji, Oceania Dance Theatre & Pasifika Voices, came to St Andrews to perform their powerful theatre piece on the theme of Climate Change: ‘Moana – The Rising of the Seas‘. The University had recently acquired the Byre Theatre and this was the first time a university department and the theatre joined forces to put on an exhibition and a show. It was my job to create the interface in the theatre between the academic and the theatrical. The entire building was changed into a representation of a Pacific Island. One section of the exhibit noted that for those who live in the centre of the Pacific Ocean, their closest neighbours are the astronauts on the International Space Station; we had a model Space Station and a big astronaut stuck to the wall. When the group arrived we decided to take the singers up St Salvator’s Tower and have them sing a ditty up top. We arrived about 15 minutes early and while waiting for the key holder to the tower the group started to chant inside the chapel … almost Gregorian, it was beautiful … and what do you know an Astronaut walked in; a real life proper astronaut astronaut, Doug Wheelock; as if he had been peeled off our wall and wandered in to the chapel. Actually, he and his robot making colleague were in Scotland to promote the sciences, but for the folk from Fiji (and us) it was a true miracle. This wee film tells that story: