Blue Shangri-La with Streetwise Opera and Red Hat Opera

In June 2019, our London group and and members of Red Hat Opera performed Blue Shangri-La at the Southbank Centre in response to the staging of Donnerstag aus Licht at the Royal Festival Hall.

This pop-up performance explored some of the themes of Stockhausen’s monumental opera, immersing participants in a creative journey inspired by colour, shape and texture.

The piece was the result of a series of devising, poetry and songwriting workshops facilitated by Streetwise Opera and Red Hat Opera.

Below are some of the poems created during the workshops, focusing on the sensation of travelling, as well as reaching the journey’s end. Participants also wrote a travel song together which was part of the performance.

The work with Red Hat Opera included creating a graphic score inspired by the different countries and cities that Michael, the protagonist of the opera Donnerstag, visits throughout his journey around the world. These are: New York City, Japan, India, Africa and finally the point of arrival – which we called ‘Blue Shangri-La’.

The group created an improvisation for each of these places, led by a ‘conductor’ from the group. The recording below includes excerpts from these improvisations.

 

TRAVEL POEMS

Collaborative poems:

So happy to go travelling around the world,
So much to see, to hear – senses overflow.
Find myself in myself, surrounded by humanity
Pink red horizons, eternal traveller, a new reality.

I’m going somewhere — a break from my everyday reality
Feeling free, leaving behind all baggage, cares and worries fade
Meeting new friends, experience new cultures, new places, the sea, nature,
New perspective life and inner peace.
At last, we will live free.

Curious and fun times ahead.
Breathe deep, anticipate.
Excited and relieved to be on our way.
Enchanting fragrances, music fills the air
There’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be than here
With you.

Solo poems:

Running on a hot summer day in a forest
Easy to run
Brilliant view around, lightened
Best place in the world
Forest, woodland, rivers, lakes
I always like to be there

I couldn’t wait for the time to start my tour
What a perfect sunny day for my best travel
Surprised and happy to see a clear sea
and a beautiful shore like that
I’ll freeze time here in this perfect place
And never lose it.

Floating over hills and snowcapped mountains
Waterfalls, children playing
The beautiful sunset
Sound of birds twittering – toy train winding up hill
Excited about the adventure that is to unfold
Feel apprehensive and elated
Found peace and joy being with new people
I wish to continue travelling
A stranger is just a friend you do not know.

Exciting anticipation
Connected to the people I love
This world is a beautiful place
The journey of life never ends

Full of elation and apprehension on this journey
A sense of relief as the journey is becoming reality
I found a joy in discovering new things and new places,
Sounds, foods, culture and an inner peace.
To continue travelling, as there’s an interest in other cultures and ways of living
Nature and environment brings a renewal of life.

The hope of boarding, the world wakes up again
Untouchable in flight, move forward but I’m still
Friends blazing once more. Wider horizons than ever before
There’s a twinkle in my eye. The world’s inside me.

——

Melancholic
Impeded
Forlorn
Solitary
Pensive
Philosophical

Stayed too long. Time has come to venture forth whatever tomorrow brings.
Leaving behind my old ‘skin’ not fearing cold weather
My fears as a fantasy; I was welcomed, I was reborn.
There will be a purpose,
Time has become so precious.

——

Feeling frantic in the space to depart (travel plans, passports)
It’s a dream to fly, to move…
There’s a place beyond to explore
People’s cultures, more and more
Carry hope, freedom pass,
Global citizens — leave my past.

BLUE SHANGRI-LA / THE END OF THE SEARCH

Humming frequency
The distant sound of an aeroplane engine
The sound of silence, perfect peace
A prism of nothingness and light with colours
as the sound hits your ears
The stillness of self in one set motions
heightening senses of hearing the balance
and your two ears hearing multiple noises
that don’t distract you in your trance
but enhances your meditation like a rhythm in your mind
Dancing away in time to your own heartbeat.

——

Turbulence.
Clouds darken, the sea swells,
winds arise and swirl in shifting
streams of seeming wrath and anger.
Shelter must be found before
these unleashed forces overwhelm.
And then a prayed-for calm descends and surrounds us.

Peace. Coming.
Disturbing speed, sound.
Relaxing. Being in Shangri-La.

The you’re looking for is right where you’re standing.
It’s been here all along, through it’s your gaze that has changed.
You’ve changes your spectacles and cleared the smudged window.
Perhaps the place changes as your perspective does.
Find your perspective, and you’ll find your place.

Serenity and peace came from a shared experience
of inner thoughts and feelings,
free-flowing and individual interpretations of the music.

Darkness
Eerie feeling of helplessness
trapped, broken Berlin
Must escape
Something terrible is about to happen
What should I do to get out of here?
My soul is no longer mine; it’s been trapped.
Why me?
Why no one else?
Why have you chosen me of all the people you can trap?
What is your purpose
Your destiny and path has come to a sad end.

Towards Paradise
Having walked across rough terrain
I felt tired and sore in places.
In the distance I could see the hills and green lush grass,
and smell the sweet fragrances of flowers.
The sweet sounds of birds could be heard,
Here was something like paradise,
with the sounds of the river rippling away.

Transessence of vivacity via smooth texture
during the fluid rhythms of life.
Lands that time forgot under a new age of enlightenment
that twists in every direction.

Floating on a string plucked to
sing soul notes
Sliding on the water sounds
Serene the body is melody, floats.

——

Electric current through my spine
A live eel or a water flow,
Simmers, shimmers and glows,
Filtering through my fingertips
Slips beneath my feet
shivers, glimmers and slows

Suspenseful, unpredictable, resonant air,
where something could happen and no one dare!
Sweating, not looking, thrashing, wailing
Calling from below — spooky unfolding the echoes
Where no one will go.

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