Fellemon Ndongo, Petrus Thomas and Shali Malua
The Journey of Connection was a multi-disciplined visual, musical and performance piece created by Jacques Mushaandja, Nambowa Malua and Dimitri Karon. We spoke to theatre-makers Fellemon Ndongo and Petrus Thomas, and musician Shali Malua about their part in the work, which involved an interactive performance in a busy corridor.
ARTWOLFE: How did you prepare yourselves for performing in an unpredictable setting?
Fellemon, Petrus and Shali: To start with, we had an intense rehearsal. We rehearsed in such a way that we would be ready for both nights, physically and mentally. We knew our positions; we knew exactly how the whole piece went down.
ARTWOLFE: So you could say that there was a great deal of precision involved in the produc- tion, even though you had to improvise?
Fellemon, Petrus and Shali: Theatre-making is a process of devising, whereby actors and directors put ideas together on a certain concept. So there is a concept that is our base and as we go along we keep building and building, until we get the final product. There was also some improvising as we went along. You asked if it is about precision, we would say not at all. You are dealing with participation and you never know the direction of the audience.
Every time it was different, it is never precise. You rehearse a set of words, but you don’t always know what is going to happen. It’s a thing of planning for the worst – or not the worst – but planning for anything that could happen.
ARTWOLFE: Is there anything else you want to add?
Fellemon, Petrus and Shali: Yes, about the participation of the crowd. We discussed how to get the crowd involved. People are different; you have to be careful and conscious about how to involve people. We asked people kindly to join in, to participate and just have fun. We let them know they were invited.
Numbers are difficult; we had to estimate the number of people who would be there and adapt the performance to the number of people who were there at any time. On Tuesday we repeated the performance several times and sometimes there were only two people watch- ing. This evening there were many more people and a whole different energy.
The whole play was kind of abstract but people were attentive and trying to understand what was going on. Theatre Magic!