Daily Reports on Summer Works Festival
Day 2: Imaginary Anthropologies
Toronto – Canada
Titre Mag’s Star: 4 (Out 0f 5)
The play starts with a single man mumbling in the right corner of the stage. Fragmented intonations gradually swing to somewhat harmonic tune; almost as if someone was playing an Erhu (2 Stringed traditional Chinese instrument). The audience is not sure if they are about to witness a version of Music from the Body (Pink Floyd – 1970) or another Stomp performance.
As viewers linger to discover a connection between these strange sounds and the performers body movements; a giant central projection introduces 4 more characters to the stage to complement the solo vocal performer.
In a projected mockumentary, experts elaborate on the invention of isolated vocal traditions amongst imaginary cultures in order to emphasize the versatility and strangeness of the human voice, while the performer examines them one after the other. As a result of the introduced examinations; simple noises revealed from the performers mouth, such as: bird’s sounds, primitive throat singing, and underwater acoustics. Each one associated with the vast spectrum of a human feeling; from fear to joy.
On a separate note. While the experts continually talk, and even challenge each others theories; in a peculiar way, those harmonic natural noises coming from the performer’s mouths become more inviting. Now the audience has to choose what to see and what to hear, as there is an unseen battle occurring between 2 major elements of the performance. Similarly, to what attracts so many people to attend Blue Man Group shows. Natural voices bring simplicity, whilst the projected arguments are presenting controversial phenomena. There is a battle between harmony and disruption.
In the middle of this contest, the performer invites the spectators to join him and express themselves freely with a simple sound. Then he harmonizes the produced sounds and begins to conduct a harmonic musical discussion to fully engage the audience. Hums spice up the chant; people start to reveal themselves in the simplest primitive manner as the stage and its viewers merge, and whole room becomes one.
By now, the director stretches out his hands into the dark unconscious chasm of each spectator, and activates the basest of human instincts. Thus, he awakens the giants.
By the end of the act, the spectator’s perception of language and culture has been disputed. The spectators feel embraced by joy and satisfaction, and the performance remains a memorable and fruitful one.
Factory Theatre Studio
125 Bathurst Street
Winner of the Best International Production at the 2015 Amsterdam Fringe Festival, Imaginary Anthropologies is a solo vocal performance that interacts with a video mockumentary. The experts on screen comment on invented vocal traditions demonstrated by the singer-performer. Various odd or isolated vocal expressions from around the world are woven together and revisited through imaginary folklore and experimental voice techniques, showcasing the virtuosity, versatility, and strangeness of the human voice. The result is an aural landscape that questions concepts of normality by reminding audiences how people across the world use the voice differently to convey their cultural identities and artistic sensibilities. A humorous and disturbing exploration of post-colonialism, post-exoticism, cultural extinction, globalization, normalized racism and cultural appropriation.
“In a performance that is at once serious and powerful, satirical and playfully funny, and aesthetically delightful, Gabriel Dharmoo transports us into an imagined world of exotic Others, apparently doomed to be swept aside by modernity’s relentless march of progress.”
Nick Wees – Centre for Imaginative Ethnography
Written, Composed and Performed by Gabriel Dharmoo; Video Cinematography by Ménad Kesraoui; Video Editing by Paul Neudorf; Video Sound Design by James O’Callaghan; Performed (on video) by Alexandrine Agostini, Daniel Anez, Florence Blain Mbaye, Luc-Martial Dagenais and Catherine Lefrançois.
“A terrific demonstration of extended vocal technique opens into a performance that touches on postcolonialism, the persistence of the discovery scenario, and fetishization of otherness. I laughed, but wasn’t always sure why. And I like that.” – Guillermo Verdecchia