Arrivals in Hikkaduwa

Writing after our first week in Hikkaduwa, gathering thoughts and slightly losing track of time, 5.5 hours ahead of UK time, on the Sura Medura artists residency with a fascinating and inspiring group of artists from Scotland and England: Tanuja Amarasuriya and writer/composer Timothy X Atack from SleepdogsRob MulhollandEmma Brierley, Claire Raftery and Damian Wright from PeriplumSubathra Subramaniam

Leaving Scottish winter for Sri Lankan climate, immediately on arrival the colours, temperature, humidity and scent of the air in Columbo announced that we had arrived, and our creative residency adventure began, a journey to the small coastal village of Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s south west coast

To begin, a series of short presentations on our work, many insights into the diversity of our shared experience here, the range of practice across theatre making, sound, dramaturgy, visual art, puppet making, dance  and design provides for a very fertile, experienced and open minded community to work along side and collaborate with as the weeks go by. For me, hearing Claire’s presentation of her work with Periplum Theatre reminded me of performances of provocative and innovative physical theatre that I watched and was inspired by many years ago at St Stephens Church in Edinburgh Fringe. Finding common reference points may well inform some avenues of my work here, a chance to revisit and re-evaluate my practice in some interesting new ways.

Meeting the culture here in Sri Lanka feels integral to the experience, from visiting the poignant and heartbreaking Tsunami Museum on our first day to the openness and generosity from so many local people to watching local baby turtles rescued by a small charity and released into the sea and their odds of survival and incredible ability to return to these beaches in many years to nest,  brings to mind the fragility of life and human and nature’s resilience on a daily basis, and a question to all of us in how we live and work as artists in the world.

I have spent the several days working in a wonderful small studio belonging to a friend of Neil and Maria, a creative haven filled with the sounds of nature, curious green lizards, agile squirrels, chatter of tropical birds and insects, cows and egrets and the bustle Sri Lankan daily family life,  and am currently collaborating with Subathra, a Bharata Natyam dancer and learning about Tamil culture, and dance, which is developing into a daily practice sharing elements of our respective dance practices.

Where these ideas go as we spend all more time working together, evolving into more detailed investigations, through conversations at mealtimes, in walking and exploring Hikkaduwa and further afield, practical explorations towards our presentations later in the residency will present themselves as time goes by.