ROB Mokaraka has a message for people struggling with mental health.
“You’re not alone, and you’re allowed as much help as you need.”
Mokaraka is performing a show during the Southland Arts Festival which outlines his journey from depression and attempted suicide, to healing and helping others.
Shot Bro: Confessions of a Depressed Bullet, will be performed at Repertory House this week.
“It’s my personal story about my mental breakdown in 2009 in Auckland.”
Mokaraka said in the seven years since, he started to write about his experience as a way of examining what happened.
“I was just trying to figure out what happened to me, why was I like this.”
However, when he began workshopping the project, he realised he was not alone.
“The more I was trying to tell my story, the more other people related. Everybody is going through something.”
Since then, he has been performing the solo show throughout the country.
“We crafted it so it could be safe for myself to tell and for communities to listen to.”
Mokaraka described Shot Bro as 75-minute roller-coaster. He uses different tools to tell his story theatrically – stand up comedy, puppetry, and movement without words.
“I want to show people, not just talk about it, and I want them to feel what it’s like.
“They go ‘oh, now I understand a bit more about my uncle, my auntie, my husband’.”
He said he also used a lot of humour in the show.
Following the show, Mokaraka hosts an open forum, giving the audience an opportunity to talk.
“People have tools that I perhaps haven’t heard of or have never tried, and so the community are learning from each other.”
He said the forum was framed in a way to make people feel safe.
“We’ve constructed this piece of theatre, or my story, in a way that I get to check in with the audience/community all the way through.
“Then at the end there’s the forum. That is the real healing part by the way. The show just opens it up.”
The show is suitable for ages 10 and over, however Mokaraka said he had people bring along children as young as 7.
“”It’s just normalising the conversation. Kids get it. Kids are emotionally intelligent. They get it before the adults.
“They just think with their hearts, and the show engages in the heart.”
Mokaraka said he would also perform at the Invercargill Prison, thanks to festival director Angela Newell.
He said he had performed a few prison shows in the past, along with shows for the military, organisations and workplaces.
“My story is funny, dark, real and educational, that’s why communities are inviting me all over the country.”
Mokaraka said creating and performing the show had been an amazing journey.
“”It’s a double-edged sword – as I’m sharing, I’m learning as well.
“We are not alone,and we are allowed as much help as we need, as often as we need.”
Shot Bro, Repertory House, Wednesday, May 8, and Thursday, May 9, 6pm.
Book through TicketDirect. Double Bill Deal available for those who go to Shot Bro and The South Afreakins on the same night.