SEEN IN BROOKLYN: ALLADEEN – One of the final events in this year’s Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music was Alladeen, an eye-catching collaboration by Marianne Weems and her New York City-based company, The Builders Association, and motiroti, a London (UK) based group. Following a successful tour in the UK, Paris and the US, Alladeen settled into BAM’s Harvey Theatre where it was acclaimed by the critics and thoroughly enjoyed by the audiences. Loosely based on the legend of Aladdin, the story is primary set in Bangalore, India, where natives are taught to suppress their Indian accents to “pass” as Americans and get jobs in call centers where the operators supply sales and technical support to unsuspecting American consumers. The idea is that we are finally living in a global village where culture has been homogenized by technology. Directed by Weems, Alladeen was designed by Keith Khan and Ali Zaidi, of motiroti, with lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, sound design by Dan Dobson, and video design by Christopher Kondek and Peter Norrman.
An extremely successful collaboration, the end result is a seamless, technically flawless piece that combines electronic music, experimental video techniques, and a set that combines structural elements and large video screens. The video images loom over the set as in the letter-box format on a television set, and often there are many images happening at once, including clips from India’s popular Bollywood film industry, adding to the rich visual texture of the piece. The implications of Alladeen point out the way that technology has become an invisible force shaping the world in which we live. A web site and music video for Asian television augment the live performance, giving Alladeen its own global presence.