Experimental NCT Shadow Project

Without the flame, the candle has no purpose. It’s merely a lump of cold wax.

Without spirit, a story cannot live. By giving a piece of ourselves, the story finds its purpose.

These words represent a Balinese concept called Taksu.

As the world goes virtual, NCT is doing something new and for this project, we’re letting the concept of Taksu guide us. If you’re a musician, have an interest in puppeteering, or just have a rhythm within you that needs to find its way out, get involved with the NCT Shadow Project.

Bali, an island nation in Indonesia, is a land rich in artistic tradition. Every village has its own unique form of performance; its own way to tell the story. To be born in Bali is to be born into a line of artists, ready to tell the stories passed down by their ancestors. Indeed, every child trains in their village’s own unique form of performance as soon as they can stand on two feet. The forms vary widely from one place to the next, ranging from a masked theatre seemingly taken from the commedia tradition of the Italian Renaissance, to an elaborate dance where a young woman is placed into a trance by Hindu priests.

While living and studying in Bali, I closely studied a form of puppetry called Wayang Kulit. It is one of the most sacred forms of performance and to study it meant many hours in Hindu temples just trying to understand its context. In fact, it is so sacred that the ornately made puppets are never even shown to an audience. The audience never sees more than the puppet’s shadow. As the stories they tell develop, words become increasingly less important and the language of music is instead utilized, as an orchestra called the Gamelan drums out layered rhythms. However, in spite of the simplicity of the form, the language barrier, and the unfamiliarity one might have with the stories, you could attend one of these performances and walk away with a clear understanding of what you watched.

For the NCT Shadow Project, we plan to utilize the philosophies Balinese performance. We’ll train in Wayang Kulit and then explore how to borrow from the form to tell our own stories. We’ll do so with little spoken word. Instead we will build our own Gamelan style orchestra, full of rhythmic people ready to bang on whatever interesting sounding object they can find. I’m partnering with Paul Muncy, a former drum corps commander and talented musician in his own right. With our Gamelan and puppeteers, we will develop a new form of storytelling.

I encourage you to take part. We plan to rehearse once a week and give performances whenever we are able. We also plan to keep everyone involved safe, sticking to CDC recommendations.

Auditions are October 17th at 3pm in the field north of the Norfolk Public Library (backup location is inside the library).

Join us as we explore how to speak through rhythm.

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