The Gods of Post Nuclear New Zealand 2007

My Own Personal Myth

Once finished with University I wanted a solo show that I could take to any city in New Zealand. During my three years in New Zealand I  developed my already significant obsession with animistic deities, which I believed to exist in every experience, every emotionally evocative formation in the natural (or urban) landscape -- with the power to guard mortal patrons of their choosing, while inflicting pain and misery on others. 

 
 

I started down the road of this particular belief system at about the age of 18, deeply influenced by the dark shrines and shinto undertones ensconced within the Tokyo neo-megalopolis. Then, at the age of 19 I was humbled by the majesty of the British Columbian mountains, cut off from society for ten or more days at a time, communing only with the natural life, landscapes, and experiences which steadily coalesced and transmogrified in my mind to become ever-present demiurges, to whom I owed favors and worship, which they received.

Before moving to New Zealand I had already developed the habit of collecting interesting natural sundry during long walks in the woods or through the city, and endowed these objects with supernatural significance. After becoming spiritually connected to such objects I would pass an ancient gnarled tree radiating with the restlessness of a hardly contained spirit, or a jutting rock face inscribed with the arcane ramblings of invisible aliens, or the footprints of a bear in the snow, or the undisturbed bones of an already decomposed elk, and leave my previously collected object here in reverence to the god that reigned over that moment in time and that pinpoint in space. These were my little sacrifices and prayers.

After coming to New Zealand this pattern of collection, endowment, and sacrifice became routine on my journeys to the various shrines of the natural world, or on my wanderings through dusk-covered empty streets and gardens. The ritual reached its apotheosis as a bonafide spiritual practice during a particularly productive summer when I climbed Mt. Cook / Aoraki, the highest peak in New Zealand, infamously renowned for its deadliness. I’d spent the summer before at the mountain’s feet developing my skills, ascending the various subsidiaries of that angular giant. I’d heard the stories of those who died attempting ascents in the National Park, I’d even found bone fragment amongst the glacial rubble on my way back from a particularly arduous four-day storm-filled adventure mounting and traversing Mt. Nazomi (Japanese for ‘hope’), the peak rising up sharp and proud, wedged up against the south side of Mt. Cook’s rotund and frosty waist. Yes, that summer I narrowly escaped bone crushing avalanches of rock, dodged cascading refrigerator-sized blocks of ice, plummeted into the pale blue glow of a gaping crevasse, leaned for 7 hours at 45 degree angles into furious snow-storms, and declared my furious devotion into empty valleys.

This was my training for Mt. Cook, these were the sacrifices I had collected in supplication to the God Aoraki. And the summer next I climbed him. And this event marked my spiritual apotheosis, the maturation of my personal animism.

So, one year later, set to find a city in New Zealand where I could practice theatre, I wrote my only solo show to date, “The Gods of Post Nuclear New Zealand”. I performed the show in my university theatre for two days and in three different bars and cafes over the course of three nights before leaving for Wellington. I wanted to try it out in all different spaces and on all different audiences. After getting to Wellington I found an underground bar with the perfect ambiance for the show and performed it for six nights. The show itself was written to be site-specific to a walled off safe-haven in Wellington that could have survived a nuclear blast, and this venue was perfect. In the right city, deep underground, capable, perhaps, or remaining intact after serious nuclear and natural onslaughts.

“The God’s had been held in place by the gravity of human prayer, but now they are free to disperse, and settle where they will in the ravaged landscape,” our narrator tells us, protecting the few meager possessions he has left to keep him company, along with his oft recited memories, deep under the earth.

This narrator recollects his story of a journey from the bottom of the South Island up to Wellington after the nuclear/environmental disaster that has destroyed the world. He meets various gods along the way, who have settled in different parts of New Zealand -- The American God of War in Christchurch; The Maori God Aoraki and The British God of Civilization on the top of Mt. Cook; The God of the Forest and some dispossessed Russian amongst the dense forests of Fjordlands National Park; The Japanese Goddess of Rebirth in Golden Bay.

The critics were captivated by the show and this gave me a good step forward to continue making theatre in Wellington. Soon thereafter I was given a spot in BATS Theatre to perform the sequel -- “The Wind Speaks to Wellington”.