Storm/Tempestade – Tomar, Portugal
A few weeks ago Sorcha and I visited Portugal to conclude the final chapter to a separate project to this; STORM project, a cross-cultural exploration of site based performance.
An adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest designed to be performed in two languages at once, half the cast of one country, alongside an other half of the cast from another country, it gave us the amazing opportunity of performing in beautiful, historical sites, all outdoor, in Tomar, Portugal; Elblag, Poland and Lincoln, England.
For the closing leg of this tour we revisited Portugal and our performance this time was slightly different to the previous ones which had each been based in individual locations. This time the show’s many scenes were spread across multiple different locations across Tomar, and the audiences were ushered from one scene to the next by a porter with a balloon.
This meant that all hands were needed on deck and the Japanese partners from the original project were invited back to perform, taking up the first scene with the Portuguese, and from then on a mix of languages made up the cast for each scene.
In total there were 8 lots of audiences so it was quite a success, but that meant that we had to repeat our scenes over and over 8 times and try to maintain the same energy for each one! It was tough but in the end very rewarding, and for the grand finale in the evening, there was live music, a big full cast encore on stage, and then a water/light/music show followed by flamenco dancers and a dancing horse act. A very sensory experience.
The relevance? From an audiences point of view it must have been very confusing, watching all those different scenes, of the same characters played by different actors, in different languages, in different locations. However, they all seemed to really enjoy it, because each scene uniquely embraced the space, adapting the sequence to it individually, and it was not just about the words. It was about exploring different places, being guided along on a little tour, enjoying the body language of the performers and especially absorbing the end with its multiple disciplines entertaining the ears and the eyes of the spectators, they had certainly felt The Tempest by walking through it.
As we devise our piece it is these senses that we must play to in order to engage our audience fully and take full advantage of such a beautiful building that is Tokyo.
By Sylvia Entwistle.