University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
PublisherUH Recordings Ltd
Media of outputDVD
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Abstract

Sangsara contemplates the notion of an ‘intermediate’ state between existences as outlined in the Bardo Thödol, a text that has much intrigued Western scholars (particularly CG Jung) for its universal symbolic value beyond its literal meaning. The work interweaves text from the Thödol with text from several ancient classics of Eastern sacred and esoteric literature, including Upanishads, Laws of Manu, Buddhist Ethics, and other works from the Tantric lore, drawing the rich symbolism of all such sources into an original synthesis that adds further layers of complexity and interpretative possibilities to the crossing of the ‘intermediate state’.
Sangsara is a hybrid artwork combining music and theatre in a very distinctive way, creating a strongly audio-visual whole in which all performers are equally engaged in both instrumental playing and theatrical action. As such, the work points to a new direction for authors who are seeking an alternative to the traditional codified forms of opera and musical.
Formally, the work is conceived as chunks of theatrical action structured according to an associative and cumulative, rather than narrative, logic. It is not a theatre of dialogues, nor a musical theatre of songs and arias. It features, instead, discrete lines of rarefied text enunciated in a stylised manner, integrated with musical gestures and meaningful theatrical action.
In the (rather scarce) repertoire of ‘new’ music-theatre work, Sangsara stands as a singular work for both its subject matter and for its formal qualities and compositional solutions. The effects of important aesthetic developments in the fields of music and theatre can be observed at work in this piece, taken on and fulfilled in an individual way, offering significant insights into an insufficiently theorised field, opening the way to a better understanding of the form, and pointing to a vast underexplored region of unlimited possibilities.

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