Get to know the artists of Buffer Fringe 2023 up close!
Fringe Uncut blog series aims at peaking into the backstage of the 10th edition of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival, taking place from the 4th until the 8th of October, including parallel activities and workshops.
This edition hosts Volta Collective answering questions about their performance “SALT” at Buffer Fringe 2023, their inspiration and more. Read on and get yourself ready to immerse into the world of Buffer Fringe!
Q. Please introduce yourself/your group.
Volta is an interdisciplinary dance company based in Los Angeles. We create immersive work, and often collaborate with artists across mediums.
Q. Can you describe your performance? (the topic you focus on, the main message of the performance, etc)
“SALT,” is a multisensory performance that mixes scent, dance, theater, and sound to examine the construction of power and revenge. Volta collaborated with writers Sammy Loren and Ellington Wells to break open Euripide’s iconic tragedy “Medea,” retelling the play through a contemporary lens while two competing narrators, a husband and wife, betrayer and betrayed, each lay out their side of the story. Medea and Jason are charismatic and unreliable narrators persuading the audience to take their side using wit, deceit, and charm. The dancers embody this collapsing relationship through movement, and custom scents by Saskia-Wilson Brown pull viewers deeper into the narrative. An original score by harpist Melissa Achten and composer Eli Klausner set the tone. The work will ask audiences to question how we judge someone’s credibility based on their identity, gender, and social status. “SALT” asks the question, “Who gets to tell their story? Whose side do we believe and why?”
Q. What was the inspiration behind this piece?
The inspiration for “SALT” is a continued research and fascination with the Greek tragedy “Medea,” which we’ve explored in several of our other works. We were compelled by this often misunderstood woman and wanted to retell her story in a feminist way. As many infamous women in history and literature, Medea has been scapegoated and judged. Similarly, in today’s online world of pop culture and reality television, we consume and condemn a woman’s demise for sport, yet we are complicit in her unraveling. We wondered, “Who are ‘Jason’ and ‘Medea’ today?” and imagined them as two striving artists in Los Angeles’ shimmering art world. By giving the couple a chance to each tell their side of the story, “SALT” asks audiences to question their assumptions of right and wrong, truth and power, all while leaving everyone with conflicting conclusions about what was just witnessed.
Q. Can you tell us about your creative process developing the piece?
Volta worked closely with writers Loren and Wells to shape the script in conversation with “Medea.” It was important to us that the boundary between dancer, actor, and audience member dissolved and overlapped. In rehearsal, we challenged the dancers to take on theatricality and the actors to perform choreography and partnering alongside the dancers. By blurring the line between roles, we aim to create a disorienting experience, undermining everyone’s notion of reality.
The choreography of “SALT” originates from Volta’s use of gesture as story-telling and partnering based on interpersonal relationships. In rehearsal, we used movement to illustrate complex social and personal dynamics. Acrobatically throwing bodies upon one another, a reprieve of tenderness in a touch, or sensual yet brutal moments between performers physicalizes the complications in human relationships. We always work collaboratively with our talented cast, drawing from their unique personalities and experiences and letting that shape the process as well.
Q. How would you describe your performance in relation to the festival theme “Turning Point”?
Through our retelling of Medea’s story, we imagine a turning point for Medea and in turn ourselves and our audiences. By giving Medea a voice, we activate and rewrite her story. Without excusing her violence, we allow the audience to hear her side of the story and understand the circumstances that drove her to action. We hope to complicate the black and white story that has throughout time painted Medea as a “hysterical, evil woman” and give her choices humanity and compassion. Furthermore, we aim to show how we are all complicit in the destruction of this woman and ask audiences to join us in this societal “turning point.”
Q. Buffer Fringe Festival celebrates its 10th edition this year, yet considering Fringe tradition, it’squite young. It’s also defined as a festival with an aim to contribute to peacebuilding, in a divided country. What are your thoughts on this, were you aware of the situation in Cyprus before applying, and what are your expectations as a participating artist?
Although we were aware of the political situation in Cyprus, since being selected as part of the Festival, we have read and learned more about the rich and complex history and culture of Cyprus. We think Jason and Medea’s story of power, betrayal, and revenge can be viewed as a metaphor for the conflict in Cyprus. We wonder how can these two people reconcile their differences or understand each others’ stories? In doing so, what can this domestic dispute tell us about a divided country in the desire for peace? At the festival, we are curious and eager to meet Cypriot artists and participants as well as artists from all over the world.
Q. What should the audience expect?
Audiences can expect to be drawn into the performance through more than just their eyes and ears. The performers will tour viewers through the performance to smell, see, hear, and watch the events unfold. After the performance, we invite you to stay and discuss with your neighbor about what you experienced and who you ultimately believe and why?
SALT / 5th of October / Home for Cooperation / 19:30-20:15