Sue Buckmaster, Director of Akram Khan’s Chotto Xenos, writes about why she joined forces with the company to re-imagine their full-length solo Xenos for a younger audience.

“The question was how and why? On first glance, XENOS appeared almost impossible to re-imagine for a child-friendly audience.

Children today are exposed to images of war through social media and the concept of conflict as fun through video games. They deserve to have some creative reflection time to ponder on what it means to them, the lives of those they are close to and the world they will grow up in. They are also subjected to a rather limited education about the history of war, often neglecting a very necessary re-telling of the soldiers experience, where they are from and what they believe they are fighting for. Our future peace processes rely on us inspiring a younger generation to be more tolerant and understand the triggers for conflict and ways to manage it. This begins in the playground but unfortunately doesn’t end there.”

"Our future peace processes rely on us inspiring a younger generation to be more tolerant"

“Once again we were able to draw from the rich reservoir of ideas discovered in XENOS and revisit, re-imagine and recycle them. Aspects of the original XENOS are interwoven with more child-friendly content to present a unique new production.

We did this by widening the reference to all colonial soldiers and incorporating some assemblage film footage of original soldiers which the children in our audience may never have seen. We also provided a gateway of understanding by making reference to the iconic soldiers uniform which they may be more familiar with.”

“Akram’s early research into the story of Prometheus inspired a mythical beginning of how man plays with fire. Humour became important as we explored how children will often ‘play at war’. A dog gas mask which had been cut from the XENOS production reappeared as a puppet to explore the loneliness of war. Once these gateways of engagement had been explored and incorporated we were able to take our audience closer to the darker elements of the original XENOS and draw from the exquisite solo choreography Akram had created.

I hope it will inspire positive understanding of the danger of war whilst being a beautiful engagement with the best that dance and music has to offer.”

Sue Buckmaster, Director of Chotto Xenos

Chotto Xenos comes to Riley Theatre on Friday 29 & Saturday 30 April.

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