MaKaNusia-Faces of Humanity is a collaborative project between myself and the Italian/Indonesian-based director Marco Adda to develop a new cross-cultural multimedia mask/dance performance. The first exploratory phase of the project was conducted in December 2013 in Indonesia when we established working methodology and common objectives. A first phase of development was supported by the Regional Arts Fund through Tasmania Regional Arts in March-April 2015 in Lilydale TAS. During this phase we involved local artists and arts workers and created nascent scenes of the work that we shared with the public for feedback.

MaKaNusia is about the self consuming the self. The title is inspired by the Indonesian expression "makan manusia", "eating people" interpreted as "what consumes people". MaKaNusia concerns to what it is to be to as opposed to deplete; connecting as opposed to disconnecting; opening as opposed to closing… where these oppositions have the same essence...

MaKanusia is a cross-cultural theatre research project, based on four main elements: exploration of new forms of expression and acting; performance’s pedagogy and training; production of a show; audience development and beholder education. The project includes various performing traditions, such as: Balinese mask dance-drama Topeng; Italian Commedia dell'Arte; physical theatre; contemporary dance; and, visual arts. Masks have an important presence in the project, although they are used in unconventional ways whereby they are released from their traditions of origin, explored and proposed in a reinvented physicality, free from their historical constraints and preconceptions.

The work relies on a strong visual setting and spectacle, and aims to have an emotional impact on the viewer on a subliminal level. On a more primae facie level, the work offers implicit insights on the topical issues of colonialism, immigration, identity, the environment, animal and human rights.

MaKaNusia is an entirely original creation. The script is generated during the process of research and composition, as in the Shakespearean “on stage” process. Therefore, the main source is represented by materials generated through the process between performers and director. At the same time, the work can be inspired by various sources: eg literature, politics, pharmacology, neurosciences. The textual fragments are contextualised, reshaped and embodied into the action by the performers.

Live music is an important element that covers three functions: it contributes to the emotional impact on performers and spectators alike; facilitates rhythmic changes and segues between scenes and interludes; and the musical instruments themselves are reinvented and incorporated and therefore involved in the dramatic action. The play between the lighting and the episodic rhythm are both closely directorially created. At times the rhythm of the dramaturgy is disrupted through the use of this lighting to gain mood and affective contrast and at other times has strong confluence with the mood. The lighting is nonlinear and employs contrasts and shadows, inspired by techniques from the visual arts. The stage’s spectacle is sparse and relies on the multifunctional use of objects and their synecdoche.  The work’s progression is also non-lineal. It involves an ecstatic dramaturgy that entails interludes that then jump in space and time to the next scene, which is inspired by cinematographic models of editing but also by Greek and Shakespearean drama. Theories and practices of the theatre of the twentieth century are involved in the process, from Stanislavski and Brecth, to Grotowski, Eugenio Barba, and Peter Brook.

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