‘Another Tempest’ takes the stage

By Tahnee Hopman

Professor Asoka de Zoysa never ceases to be intrigued by the complex emotional baggage carried around by the colonized. “It is all too evident in our mindset and some of our actions,” he says, “and the task of bringing these ideas into narrative- while daunting- is also fascinating and enlightening.” Asoka de Zoysa and master choreographer Nilan Maligaspe are both of the view that no tale illustrates the negative face of colonialism than that of The Tempest; and it is this tale that their combined efforts in choreography and dramaturgy that will enthrall audiences once again in ‘Another Tempest’ which will take place on May 28 at 7 pm at the Warehouse Project, Maradana.

Shakespeare was certainly not the first to relate the tale of Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and Ferdinand; but it was his drama in iambic pentameter which served to establish the story of The Tempest as one of history’s most memorable and most narrated.

The story has inspired at least 46 operas; orchestral works, literary works by the likes of Percy Bysche Shelley and W. H Auden; and more recently, Aimè Cesaire’s Une tempête which the dancers of Arpeggio- Nilan Maligaspe’s 20 year old dance academy bring to stage in the form of an lively dance drama.

Translated by Asoka de Zoysa and Asanka Ishan Dayapala, the script is titled “Kodewwaka Viplavaya”. For the purpose of the performance however, key scenes which deal with the master-slave, father-son conflicts and post-colonial subtext of the play, have been selected for staging; and the performance will consist of a series of 14 tableaux.

The francophone Caribbean writer Cesaire’s “Une tempête”, while providing new insights to well known characters and their relationships, also deals with the complex dynamics of the relationship between the colonist and the colonized; and the psychological impact of colonization.

The objective being to use dance to good effect in narrating a story, choreographer and producer Nilan Maligaspe, and translator Asoka de Zoysa are all too aware of the challenges involved; but these challenges serve as motivation.

The music that has been selected will be multilayered, juxtaposing passages of western classical music (Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Avro Pärt, and Olivier Messaien) with live music using percussion instruments of non-western origin to create contrasts likened to those between the colonists and the colonized.

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