By BUHLE NTUSI
Theatre and arts enthusiasts eagerly await the National Arts Festival to come back in full swing. Rewarding us for holding on through lockdown is the Japanese artist collective, Orangcosong.
They are bringing a piece of Japan to Makhanda for the Festival with their performative adventure book, Engeki Quest. According to its website, this quest is a flaneur-style walking project to explore a city. The participants wander the city alone, relying on written instructions.
Hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun, performers Minori Sumiyoshiyama and Chikara Fujiwara have always been enthralled with creating performance art pieces that transcend the limiting boundaries of genres and positions.
Before Orangcosong, Fujiwara worked as a theatre critic, and Sumiyoshiyama practised butoh – a Japanese expressionist dance form. After having fulfilling careers in their respective fields, they grew weary of the alienating relationship dynamic between performers and their audiences. They looked for ways to communicate directly with their audiences while experimenting with the multiplicity of genres that exist in performance and “bring a new perspective to the participants and try to drill holes in ‘invisible walls’ which divide people”.
In 2014 they formed their collective, Orangcosong, to channel their curiosities and passions into projects like Hitsudankai (from now/here, silence), where groups of people are invited to collaborate in complete silence; Hello, See You, a pandemic diary; and the Engeki Quest.
The Engeki Quest has had a few installations in Asia and Europe, and now Africa will be the next backdrop to this project – a choice that Sumiyoshiyama and Fujiwara are elated about. “Community is really important,” they told Grocott’s Mail. “We have to find community and try to connect with them.” The pair noticed that Africa has received little representation in Asia, especially Japan, and wanted the opportunity to immerse themselves in Makhanda and help others do so with their adventure book.
This quirky adventure is building up to be something unique for National Arts Festival attendees who, like Orangcosong, have a desire to journey into this charming town and marvel at its hidden gems.
For more information on Orangcosong and Engeki Quest, visit: