Cast : Terence Lewis and David Zambrano


Anil D'Souza

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''Oh Thou, who man of baser earth didst make, and who with Eden didst devise the snake; For all the sin wherewith the face of man is blackened, man's forgiveness give--and take!'' Khayyam's immortal quatrain comes to mind as THE KAMSHET PROJECT attempts to unfurl the evolutionary energy which lies dormant within most of us.

'I am the dark side', Aksh somberly introduces himself, as the rest of his eight companions do the same. There is a splash of volatile energy, gloom, melancholy, and still not without humor in the introductions. The enterprise suggests that the artistes will explore different elements of their primeval instincts and human depravity in an attempt to shake off the harnesses of civilization. The attempt to shed these superficial garments and become witnesses to the larger play of life is what Terrence Lewis, director of THE KAMSHET PROJECT, sought to present to the viewer.

THE KAMSHET PROJECT, a contemporary dance-theatre performance, initiates interactive contact with the audience. The performance begins with the audience being invited to identify with at least one artiste through whom they can participate in the performance. Is it an invitation worth taking? The artistes appear mindful of this invitation even as they work hard to surrender their bodies and minds to the audience. There is an emphasis on opening the mind through spoken word and following that up with energetic body movements that attempt to capture the pathos in the words that each artiste has expressed.

The project fuses psychodrama with spoken word and contemporary dance, using deep African trance rhythms and heavy percussion to tell the story. The movements are aggressive with a heavy focus on bestial effects in the movements of the artists. The presentation is dark, yet indulgent. The effort is a tad too noticeable in an attempt to present suppressed trauma of the growing-up years such as abuse in childhood by a family member or bullying in school. These can be gruesome experiences, but these stories have been told before, with more formidable impressions and impact. The psychotherapeutic devices, though crucial in resolving deep-set trauma, create a voyeuristic experience for the viewer which may not necessarily connect at the experiential level and thus they appear artful. Getting in touch with the beast within is always a fraught and more complex task.

The dance movements are engaging and demonstrate the physical dexterity and coordination of the artistes as they display their potential with great intensity. Performances largely demonstrate a well synchronized effort in standard movements but are typically borrowed from ballet and modern dance styles without emotion and empathy.

Terrence and his crew have worked hard nevertheless to create a devised piece that combines theatre and dance. The movements are a mix of the classical and the modern styles within the easy reach of more familiar domains to draw from. The transformation of emotional states into animal constructs is well represented. The artistes have been able to convey the transformation of their darker natures into bestial representations with restrained grace. There is a thrilling emotional charge in their movements which creates some colorful vignettes for the audience to appreciate.

The direction is straightforward and the narrative unfolds with flair and charisma. References in the story-telling to catchy phrases from recent cinema no doubt help reach out to the audience more easily but dilute the bolder engagements that the production set out to experiment with.

*Anil D'Souza enjoys commenting on drama and its versatility in mirroring our lives.

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