Riles Walsh, The East Complex
The East Complex is a three-act dramatic work consisting of an opera within a drama. The project was initially set up as a master project of Riles Walsh (USA), studying MA Composition at the Royal Conservatory Ghent, and Stefan Aleksic (CRO/SRB/BiH), studying MA Drama at KASK School of Arts Ghent. Over the course of a year and a half, they have been working closely with Yannick Verweij and are being joined by an international and diverse group of artists, both students from various conservatoires and art schools, as well as young professionals. All involved are either at the beginning- or early career and intend to present themselves to the industry through this work.
The artistic process started off originally with the questioning of immortality; what would the concept mean in a current-day context? This evolved into a more critical exploration of socioeconomic hierarchy, on a collective- (external) and personal (internal) level. Here the notion of ‘immortality’ is transformed into a symbol for the perpetuity of systems we (in the West) have put- and keep in place to structure our everyday life. What becomes of the people heavily utilized by the system, but often overlooked by the majority?
In making this work, the team wanted both to create something new, as well as to reflect on a rich tradition of opera, what opera is and can be; as an artistic product and as a collaborative process. During the creation we involve multiple disciplines (text, music, sound, performance, visual art, and film) and attempt to establish a more horizontal way of working, where disciplines can alternate, during the performance, who takes the lead in telling the narrative. It is an aim to create not only a composition in music, but composition in different art forms working harmoniously together. This has resulted in the writing on a drama, a score that is being composed for eight singers and six instrumentalists, electronics and film to create a hybrid of live theater and cinematic experience.