Originally performed in 2019 at the Albany Deptford, Flight Paths gains inspiration from the term ‘Goze‘, a term referring to visually impaired Japanese women who worked as musicians during the medieval era, the Edo Period (17th to 19th century Japan) most notably witnessing the formation of organisations promoting the art form. Drawing parallels to 21st century London, visually impaired performers Amelia Cavallo (US), Sarah Houbolt (Australia), Takashi Kikuchi (Japan) and Victoria Oruwari (Nigeria) cross paths, presenting their own experiences of migration to the UK.
An online resource reimagined for our digital age, Aya Nakamura narrates the experience as Dave Packer‘s animations and Manga artist Inko Ai Takita‘s illustrations form the show’s traditional Japanese animated aesthetic. A co-production by Extant Theatre, the UK’s leading theatre company advocating the work of visually impaired performers and New Earth Theatre, who celebrate over 25 years of advocating the work of East Asian artists, Flight Paths integrates live performance with Amelia Cavallo and Sarah Houbolt’s entertaining aerial routines, choreographed by Upswing‘s Vicki Amedume with testimonies from violinist Takashi Kikuchi and and Soprano Victoria Oruwari.
Melding the rich cultural heritage of Japanese art with manga, performance and reference to the Goze with the present day, Flight Paths demonstrates its ambition as an art piece, the resource’s complexity and richness, something to be commended. The piece is warm and light hearted, yet gives voice to the four performers who all deliver their own truths of migration and the challenges they’ve faced. An inclusive space for viewers to access at any time, there’s the option to apply subtitles if needed. Crafting the experience around the viewer, the show’s interactivity allows for you to choose the order in which you’re able to view and listen to the narrative presented, a lovely feature placing autonomy with the viewer to access segments at their own pace – theatre reimagined.
The interactive experience acts as a digital museum also, an archive tying the past with the present, information on the Goze presented throughout the piece serving as a reminder of the skillset, training and conditions faced during the medieval period. A clever, entertaining watch.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Flight Paths is currently available to access and view here…
For our interview with New Earth Artistic Director Kumiko Mendl and Extant Artistic Director Maria Oshodi, visit here…