Academic journal article TheatreForum

Seafoam Sleepwalk Experience

Academic journal article TheatreForum

Seafoam Sleepwalk Experience

Article excerpt

La Jolla Shores is bustling with typical activities this Saturday afternoon. People are surfing, sun bathing, picnicking, building sand castles, digging holes, and playing in the waves. There are no chairs set up, only a space delineated for the audience to sit in the sand. Some people arrive with beach chairs and blankets in tow, but many just plop down and take off their shoes. It is hot and light chatter about the baking sun peppers conversations. The environment is affecting the audience already and preparing us for Basil Twist's Seafoam Sleepwalk.

The performance begins with Yumiko Tanaka, Twist's collaborator, clad in a kimono and hello-kitty inspired sun glasses. She walks to a small platform and begins to play traditional Japanese instruments in non-traditional ways. The audience giggles. Her music, interspersed with the mash-up song soundtrack playing over the loudspeakers, quirkily highlights the West's obsession with appropriating Japanese culture. This provides a unique friction to the story of Aphrodite's birth about to unfold before us. A "sword fight" with longboard paddles breaks out on the shore between Cronus and Uranus as other performers prepare to raise Aphrodite from the sea's foam. While the mythic tale of Aphrodite provides the loose framework for this performance, the central attraction is Twist's magical giant puppet emerging from the water.

A team of New York and San Diego based puppeteers haul pieces of the puppet from the shore and assemble it in waist-deep surf. As they raise the giant head of Aphrodite who looks from side to side blinking at us, we are mesmerized by the animation of life occurring before us. This is the beauty of Twist's work. He intentionally provokes the questions, "What does it mean to bring something to life?" and even "What does it mean to be alive?" By making the inanimate animate, he wows us into childlike wonderment by bringing this mythic goddess of love out of the sea. In fact, playing in the waves just next to the performance were several children. When the puppet arose out of the water, they stopped and stared in awe. They took a few steps toward the giant beautiful head with mouths agape. Their amazement permeated the audience and reminded us of what it is like to dream as a child dreams. …

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