Iks and the machine is an experimentation in shadow theatre poetry.
IKS IN ATHENS
operatic shadow poetics
Vigil for Desperate Migrations
This winter we toured Iks and the Machine in Athens, Patras and Ioanina Greece. Along with our puppeteer friends Kostadis Mizaras, Stathis Markopoulos of Ayusaya Theatre we adapted our show, added narration in Greek, and old Greek choral songs sung by the Very Cousins Choir, a group of Athens based singers. We played insquatted theatres, anarchist cultural and social centres, a hotel for refugees, a Roma school, and several Circus Arts venues. We did not manage to play for the inhabitants of the Skaramaga refugee camp in Patras as we were deterred by wild rain and hailstorms. With undying hope we studied our Learn Greek booklets, slipped around on the snow slicked marble streets, marveled at the olive and orange groves, at the cats of Athens, at the vibrant, vivacious culture of puppetry in Athens, and at the way it seems to flood spaces and insist on having a home in public.
Iks and the Machine is an experiment in shadow theatre, which has both the puppeteers and the orchestra preoccupied with studying shadow poetry and sound-making trickery.
With the generous support of an Ontario Arts Council theatre development grant we were able to sit in a glorious and stinky warehouse in Toronto in the summer of 2016 and lay the groundwork. We made puppets from broken umbrellas, tea strainers, scrap metal, and laboriously cut paper.
We fashioned an orchestra out of water bowls, vegetable chopper, hurdy gurdy, and mouth harp. We sang. We couldn't pin a narrative but Iks wandered through gargantuan machinery, enchanted forest and climbed into the moon. Refugee boats swam through airplane attack wings and the Beast burned singing trees.
That summer we played the show as a form of public vigil to the two dramas of forced migration that were playing out in the public eye: the flight of the Syrian people who were forced from their homes by war, and the flight of the economic migrants escaping the Wild Fire that tore through Fort McMurray, Alberta. Iks and the Machine was an effort to clear a little space in the collective imagination so we could behold the story of scared people fleeing, away from the murky fear-mongering rhetoric that circled them in the public sphere. Our puppet show stood abstractly and atmospherically on crooked legs, we played the show in Ontario and Quebec.