Drugs, gangs and theatre

Scribe acts alongside his brother and father in The White Guitar.

Scribe acts alongside his brother and father in The White Guitar.

A SCRIBE’S SCRIPT: Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) acts alongside his brother Matthias Luafutu and father John Luafutu in the The White Guitar, a theatrical retelling of their family story. Picture supplied
A SCRIBE'S SCRIPT: Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) acts alongside his brother Matthias Luafutu and father John Luafutu in the The White Guitar, a theatrical retelling of their family story. Pitcure supplied.
SMOKING: Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) in the The White Guitar, a theatrical retelling of their family story. Last night's performance in Gisborne had more than the audience bargained for. Picture supplied
A SCRIBE’S SCRIPT: Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) in The White Guitar. A near-sell out crowd at the War Memorial Theatre last night was enthralled. Picture supplied

How many dudes you know got the skills to turn a life of drugs, gangs and violence into success in theatre and film?

Probably not that many, but Malo Luafutu (aka Kiwi rapper Scribe) believes if there’s hope for him and his brother Matthias, there’s hope for all.

“I left school at 15, I was in gangs and a homeless junkie by the age of 17. Not many people know that about me,” says the five-times-platinum-selling artist.

“My brother was in jail 12 years ago. Now he’s in films and television series — he has just been in a movie with Scarlett Johansson.”

It was this progression out of hardship that inspired the theatre show Scribe and Matthias star in alongside their father, John Luafutu.

Premiering at the Christchurch Arts Festival in 2015, The White Guitar tells the story of the Luafutu family’s migration from Samoa to New Zealand.

A story many families would want to keep under wraps

It’s a turbulent journey fraught with violence, addiction, racism and crime — a story many families might like to keep under wraps.

But the Luafutus are not only telling their story, they’re fronting it.

“It’s difficult (acting in the play) because it’s all real, and for me it feels like it happened just yesterday,” says Scribe.

“Revisiting these dark places is something I don’t like doing and it’s very hard.”

One of the hardest aspects for Scribe has been reliving episodes of family violence and feelings of guilt.

“There’s this particular scene when my brother and I are about 6 and 10. My bro takes the blame for something I did and he gets a really bad beating for it.”

“For many years I didn’t forgive myself for that.”

Scribe was initially hesitant to take part in the play for these reasons, and the fact that he’s not a trained actor.

“I’m not an actor, and the story we are putting out there is very confronting. It’s pretty scary to share it with strangers,” he says.

The play, which was adapted from a book written by John Luafutu, was originally intended to be a one man play featuring Matthias, a Toi Whakaari (New Zealand drama school) graduate.

“The whole reason I did it was to support my brother and help him move forward in his career,” says Scribe.

The rapper’s hopes appear to have been successful.

Play has done more than just provide career steps

Recently both John and Matthias were selected to star alongside Scarlett Johansson in an upcoming American film, after the film’s director spotted the pair on the play’s evocative promotional poster.

The play has done more than provide career steps.

“It’s been hugely rewarding — it’s definitely brought us closer together.

“Theatre in general is therapeutic and healing. It’s not like a movie where you do 100 takes. We only get one chance — there’s been a lot of redemption (for us) working through this play.”

One of these redemptive journeys has been learning to understand his father.

“We got a lot of beatings when we were kids,” he says.

“As Samoans we just saw it as normal but because we were brought up as Kiwis, it was hard to know that was what he thought of as ‘love’.”

“Now we know that my dad just didn’t have the skills to be able to talk to us about things.”

The artist hopes the play will help others find redemption and hope.

“In Auckland we have had a lot of old gangsters come and watch and they’ve been crying,” he says.

“When you see the life my brother and I came from . . . and what we’ve done, you’ll see what you can do has nothing to do with where you came from.”

The play will also provide context to lyrics for well-versed Scribe fans.

“When you come to my play and see where I came from, you understand a lot better where I was coming from with songs like Dreaming,” he says.

“You see how close to demise I came before I made it and how thin that line is.”

Before theatre, music was Scribe’s platform for redemption.

“Music was always my redemption. I loved music more than I loved drugs,” he says.

With John also being a musician, music features throughout the play.

However, for Scribe, stepping into the theatre has sent him in a new career direction.

While he is still a touring musician, booked to rap alongside P-Money at Northern Bass this New Year, he is eager to explore the film and television industry.

“I just want to write movies and direct them — I really believe Pacific people have an important story to tell,” he says.

“Taika Waititi is doing some great stuff; he’s really opening doors for people like me.”

Some may be surprised by Scribe’s plans, but the rapper says writing scripts is not a new interest.

“I feel like I’ve always been writing — I wrote three plays when I was 14,” he says.

“I used to write plays and my brother was a rapper, then somewhere along the way we swapped.”

  • The White Guitar shows at the Gisborne War Memorial Theatre; October 4 & 5 (8pm). Ticket available online at ticketdirect.co.nz or from Stephen Jones Photography.

The White Guitar - New Zealand Tour 2016 from Tour-Makers on Vimeo.

How many dudes you know got the skills to turn a life of drugs, gangs and violence into success in theatre and film?

Probably not that many, but Malo Luafutu (aka Kiwi rapper Scribe) believes if there’s hope for him and his brother Matthias, there’s hope for all.

“I left school at 15, I was in gangs and a homeless junkie by the age of 17. Not many people know that about me,” says the five-times-platinum-selling artist.

“My brother was in jail 12 years ago. Now he’s in films and television series — he has just been in a movie with Scarlett Johansson.”

It was this progression out of hardship that inspired the theatre show Scribe and Matthias star in alongside their father, John Luafutu.

Premiering at the Christchurch Arts Festival in 2015, The White Guitar tells the story of the Luafutu family’s migration from Samoa to New Zealand.

A story many families would want to keep under wraps

It’s a turbulent journey fraught with violence, addiction, racism and crime — a story many families might like to keep under wraps.

But the Luafutus are not only telling their story, they’re fronting it.

“It’s difficult (acting in the play) because it’s all real, and for me it feels like it happened just yesterday,” says Scribe.

“Revisiting these dark places is something I don’t like doing and it’s very hard.”

One of the hardest aspects for Scribe has been reliving episodes of family violence and feelings of guilt.

“There’s this particular scene when my brother and I are about 6 and 10. My bro takes the blame for something I did and he gets a really bad beating for it.”

“For many years I didn’t forgive myself for that.”

Scribe was initially hesitant to take part in the play for these reasons, and the fact that he’s not a trained actor.

“I’m not an actor, and the story we are putting out there is very confronting. It’s pretty scary to share it with strangers,” he says.

The play, which was adapted from a book written by John Luafutu, was originally intended to be a one man play featuring Matthias, a Toi Whakaari (New Zealand drama school) graduate.

“The whole reason I did it was to support my brother and help him move forward in his career,” says Scribe.

The rapper’s hopes appear to have been successful.

Play has done more than just provide career steps

Recently both John and Matthias were selected to star alongside Scarlett Johansson in an upcoming American film, after the film’s director spotted the pair on the play’s evocative promotional poster.

The play has done more than provide career steps.

“It’s been hugely rewarding — it’s definitely brought us closer together.

“Theatre in general is therapeutic and healing. It’s not like a movie where you do 100 takes. We only get one chance — there’s been a lot of redemption (for us) working through this play.”

One of these redemptive journeys has been learning to understand his father.

“We got a lot of beatings when we were kids,” he says.

“As Samoans we just saw it as normal but because we were brought up as Kiwis, it was hard to know that was what he thought of as ‘love’.”

“Now we know that my dad just didn’t have the skills to be able to talk to us about things.”

The artist hopes the play will help others find redemption and hope.

“In Auckland we have had a lot of old gangsters come and watch and they’ve been crying,” he says.

“When you see the life my brother and I came from . . . and what we’ve done, you’ll see what you can do has nothing to do with where you came from.”

The play will also provide context to lyrics for well-versed Scribe fans.

“When you come to my play and see where I came from, you understand a lot better where I was coming from with songs like Dreaming,” he says.

“You see how close to demise I came before I made it and how thin that line is.”

Before theatre, music was Scribe’s platform for redemption.

“Music was always my redemption. I loved music more than I loved drugs,” he says.

With John also being a musician, music features throughout the play.

However, for Scribe, stepping into the theatre has sent him in a new career direction.

While he is still a touring musician, booked to rap alongside P-Money at Northern Bass this New Year, he is eager to explore the film and television industry.

“I just want to write movies and direct them — I really believe Pacific people have an important story to tell,” he says.

“Taika Waititi is doing some great stuff; he’s really opening doors for people like me.”

Some may be surprised by Scribe’s plans, but the rapper says writing scripts is not a new interest.

“I feel like I’ve always been writing — I wrote three plays when I was 14,” he says.

“I used to write plays and my brother was a rapper, then somewhere along the way we swapped.”

  • The White Guitar shows at the Gisborne War Memorial Theatre; October 4 & 5 (8pm). Ticket available online at ticketdirect.co.nz or from Stephen Jones Photography.

The White Guitar - New Zealand Tour 2016 from Tour-Makers on Vimeo.

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