XENON: an exploded opera
A collaborative project with Monica Ross, Juice Ensemble, Conall Gleeson, E.laine, Amy Cunningham and Ben Crawley
Whitstable Umbrella Community Centre Main Hall
16:30-17.20, and repeated at 19:00-19.50 Sunday 27 June
16:00-17:00 Sunday 4 July
As a consequence of international economic calamities, a geographically expanding European Union, and continuing oppressive political regimes across the globe, there is an increasing mobility of populations. Moving away from home, people become strangers in their own country or abroad searching for financial stability or safety. XENON, a collaborative project by artist Mikhail Karikis, orchestrates a series of unexpected encounters on stage and in the streets of Whitstable, between strangers engaged in unlikely acts. Soldiers, an acrobat, a reciter of the Declaration of Human Rights, three sopranos and Death’s Ferryman stumble into each other evoking questions on belonging, memory, independence, territory and impossibility.
The performance on Sunday 27 June at the Umbrella Community Centre in Whitstable, takes the form of a concert in an increasingly militarised and territorialised auditorium. Performing artists include Monica Ross, Juice Ensemble, Conall Gleeson, E.laine, Amy Cunningham and Ben Crawley. A promenade performance with the character of Death’s Ferryman will continue on the streets of Whitstable on Sunday 4 July.
Taking its name from the ancient Greek word for stranger/foreigner, XENON expands Mikhail Karikis’s research in notions of the stranger and vocal address, and is part of a major commission from six festivals in the South East forming the East Kent Festival Cluster. Incorporating performance, music and visual art, XENON is conceived as a response to John Cage and Pierre Boulez, seminal figures of 20th-Century music and philosophy of art, who regarded opera an anathema, with the latter suggesting that “the most elegant solution to the problem of opera is to blow up all opera houses.” Explaining that opera is a “super-genre embracing all other art forms”, Karikis devises XENON as an ‘exploded’ opera, featuring interdisciplinary performative and sound events, which take place across East Kent festivals. XENON continues with Karikis’s collaboration with the ex-miners’ vocalists of Snowdown Colliery Choir in Deal Festival.
XENON is a major commission by the East Kent Festival Cluster. The first performance of the 'exploded opera' is taking place at the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury on Saturday 15 May, and other chapters of the opera will take place across East Kent festivals, culminating at a finale performance at the Canterbury Festival in October 2010. More information on the festivals and performance dates to follow.
XENON has been commissioned by the East Kent Festival Cluster, with support from SEEDA, Kent County Council and Arts Council England.