Opening the Kakilang Festival, a celebration of East and Southeast Asian heritage, was the HOME X show.
The Kakilang team employed an incredibly innovative use of technology to portray the theme of "home", considering the nature of belonging, destruction, and existence itself. Artists in London and Hong Kong performed in real-time, donning VR technology to enter a fantastical virtual world, reminiscent of life-simulation games such as Animal Crossing. This world was shown to the audience via 270-degree projections, creating a highly immersive first-person view that takes you into the game itself, though perhaps is not suitable for those who suffer with motion sickness.
In the virtual world we meet Mia, a root creature played by actor/gamer Mia Foo.Other root creatures were played by those experiencing the show from home, adding a further dimension of immersion and reality.Si Rawlinson, in the UK, and Suen Nam, in Hong Kong, play as digital avatars who enter Mia's world after escaping their dying planet.
Associate Artistic Director Daniel York Loh said, "Kakilang: means our people. Our place. Our aching for home," which we see through these characters. Mia's joyful existence in a magical non-capitalistic world is reminiscent of the Nintendo games which prioritise small and sustainable living; and through the humans who try and force the new world to reflect their old home, destroying its character in the process. The creative visuals provided a wonderful lens through which we could both enjoy the show, and understand the deeper messages underpinning it. It spoke of the doomed fate of humankind if we refuse to coexist with our home, and of how the desire for a home can be both comforting and elusive.
During the show, electronic music, soprano singing, and live break-dance brought the event to life, celebrating East and Southeast Asian culture and arts whilst maintaining a compelling story.
The show ended with a series of testimonies from those across the world, discussing their understanding of "home." We heard from migrants who felt displaced and excluded in their new homes, and from a man in the Philippines who saw home as a society wherein existence is peaceful and not defined by work. Others spoke on the concept of home and ownership, drawing attention to how all humans exist on the same world, and yet arbitrary borders have been drawn and used to divide and claim ownership over land that does not truly belong to anybody. All in all, this section of the show was wonderfully insightful, showing honest and raw opinions and emotions from those with a range of backgrounds. Home was defined as many things, from a place, to a culture, to where your family is.
I would recommend seeing this show to anyone who holds an interest in storytelling, creative art-forms, the celebration of heritage, and thoughtful messaging. The Kakilang festival is on for 8 weeks, and alongside this HOME X show, has a number of events such as art exhibitions, queer cabaret nights, and contemporary dance performances here. You can find more information here.