PERFORMANCE ART: Engeki quest
Review by SONIA SAJJABI
When we think about theatre, we may think of a stage, actors, and a script (most times). However, traditionally staged performances are often detached from the communities in which they are staged. This gap between artist and community inspired Chikara Fujiwara, a Japanese theatre critic, to create a form of theatre that immerses you within the community. In Engeki Quest, geography becomes your stage.
After travelling through 11 cities and doing 22 works, Fujiwara and Minori Sumiyoshima journeyed to South Africa to create this version of theatre in Makhanda. They walked through the town, learning about its rich history, interacting with the locals and mapping its roads. With this knowledge, they curated three short adventures that take you into parts of the town you might otherwise never notice.
It’s like a treasure hunt. No Google maps or GPS. Destination unknown. Just a book with instructions as a guide. You will follow different paths through the town, overlooked streets and thoroughfares. Walking these routes and reading the cultural notes provided in Engeki Quest will shine a new light on the town and the people who live in it. New places are discovered, familiar places are seen with fresh eyes, and all the history you absorb is your prize.
The experience goes beyond sight-seeing and becomes art: Makhanda is your stage, you are the actor, and the book is your script. Like a performer giving life to a character, you reimagine yourself within your environs.
Makhanda becomes closer as the bridge between you, and its people is narrowed while your world expands. At least that’s what I felt, and I only did the trial walk before the festival. You have a chance to do the real thing.
You can get a copy of the Engeki Quest book at the Rhodes Theatre Box Office for R120. Catch them on Instagram at #engekiquest or @orangcosong. Meet the creators on 1st June at 17:00 at the Monument Restaurant and share your quest experience.