Awavena @ Barbican Theatre Review

Shamanism is a term used to describe a healer’s ability to interact with a world otherwise unseen to the naked eye, a world inhabited by a whole host of spiritual energies. An aspect of humanity that has been practised for thousands of years, and continues to be in many indigenous communities, this is a practice typically carried out by men. Emmy award-winning Lynette Wallworth crafts an innovative foray into the world of Hushahu, the first woman shaman of the Yawanawá located in the Amazon with Awavena. A ground-breaking film documenting a ground breaking moment for the community and wider world.

Awavena is a cerebral encounter connecting us to the very heart of the Amazon, an otherwise discreet, closed off part of the world made visible via the ambitious means of virtual reality. A fusion of reality and dreamscape, we’re made privy to Hushahu’s surroundings, the illustrious rainforest a constant reminder of nature’s power and beauty. Hushahu narrates as we explore our temporary home, a 360 degree encounter that allows for us to envision the fine details of this landscape, a beautiful experience that will stay with me.

Awavena opens up possibility as to what art can be and do, shattering convention and pushing the limit. The billowing, free flowing energy of camp fires, the spaciousness and earthiness of the grounds, the groundness of the bridge we walk over, the tranquility of the rippling river we find ourselves under and a glittering tree magnificent in scale all culminate to produce a spectacular experience, a once in a life time encounter making the viewer that much more appreciative of nature and beyond.

Wallworth directs a profound piece of work, a great feat made possible by the vision of both the Yawanawá community involved and the crew, Greg Downing, Francisco Almendra and Nelson Porto’s meticulous and well observed cinematography draws us into the realities of the Amazon. Max Richter, William Bevan, Scott Gershin and Magno Caliman’s musical and sound design contributions sustain the production’s calming, hypnotic air. Technicolor Experience Center/Brian Frager and Mars Wong’s technical build embeds a magical quality to the experience, the world’s dreamscape made possible by their imagination and scope. A highly recommended watch!

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Awavena is currently showing until Saturday 4th December 2021 at the Barbican. To find out more about the experience, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop