Orpheus & Lwanda Transmedia Workshop by Narratologies

As part of the one-month residency in Nairobi, Kenya, the Narratologies team organized and executed a workshop for the students of Kenyatta University’s School of Creative Arts, Film, and Media Studies in collaboration with Ph.D. researcher and lecturer Clinton Kihima Kanyangi. The goal of the workshop was to familiarize participants with interactive technologies, highlighting the smooth application and integration of interactive media in physical experiences and performative events. The aim was to experiment with video-making techniques and the representation of narratives in virtual environments.

The storytelling focused on the combination of two myths: the heroic story of Lwanda Magere, a superhuman warrior with skin of stone and the strength of ten men, from Kenyan folk tales, and the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, a musician and poet on a quest to rescue his beloved wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld. These stories were used to create mini animation videos that accompanied the music and dance performance titled “Orpheus, Lwanda, and the Khthónios Journey.” The performance took place on February 15, 2023, on the premises of Kenyatta University as part of the opening act of the CAPHE Symposium.

As Narratologies’ expertise focuses on the digitization of narratives through various digital means, creating hybrid experiences that augment the physical environment, the workshop participants explored the representation of stories and animated characters in virtual environments and learned various video-making techniques. They were encouraged to experiment with these techniques and develop their skills in creating animations that were related to each plot scene and inspired by the local culture. To collect the necessary images for the animations, participants employed various methods. They utilized digital platforms and online resources to search for relevant African imagery, such as traditional artwork, symbols, landscapes, or historical references. They also conducted field research, capturing their own photographs or videos of African settings and elements that aligned with the chosen themes.

Additionally, researchers from Narratologies, Aliki Iovita and Natasha Papathoma, joined forces with the NKUA Department of Computer Science to pioneer the integration of XR (extended reality) technologies, enhancing the hybridity of the performance show. Christos Lougiakis, a Ph.D. researcher from NKUA, contributed to the project by developing an interactive VR scene. This immersive experience allowed the performer to explore the virtual world of Orpheus and Eurydice while providing spectators with a first-person view of the entire virtual environment. The seamless integration of extended reality (XR) technologies into the realm of performative arts marks a true breakthrough in the field.

The collaborative efforts of all Narratologies & NKUA researchers together with the Kenyatta University’s School of Creative Arts, Film, and Media Studies students have pushed the boundaries of hybrid space exploration in the realm of performative arts, opening up exciting possibilities for future artistic endeavors that blend the boundaries of our physical and virtual worlds.