Week 5: Collaborate, coordinate

Week 5 – This week I collaborate with fellow artists to create a performance piece and coordinate the finale event taking place at the end of our residency.

Week 5: Mon 13 – 19 Mar 2017

We are now at the end of week 5 and the final week of this fabulous residency looms.  These last two weeks are crucial to prepare for our finale event: Moving Beyond.  We are supported by our mentors Neil and Bob, and our life coach Bettina who arrives this week.  It is a very busy time.


Day 27 (of 39) Mon 13 Mar
Joshua, Lewis, Ross, Zoe and myself work together to collaborate on a performance piece that will complement our solo presentations at the planned finale event at Sunbeach on Friday 24 March and at Open Brain in Colombo on Saturday before leaving for England on Sunday morning.

Bettina Linstrum from Arts Agenda - with Mary Genis - arrives at Suramedura in Sri Lanka.Today Bettina arrives and we take to the beach for a wade through lagoons filled with the warmest sea water. These delightful pools appear after the tide has come in much further than usual and is the setting for my first coaching session in Sri Lanka.

Day 28 Tue 14 Mar
Like five intrepid resident artists we continue the intense event planning meetings picking through the finer details so we can organise an eclectic and dramatic arts experience for the invited guests.

Later we take a break and go out for dinner at Sugar in Galle.  After a third course of delicious  brownies and ice cream we go back to Hikka full, tired but happy.


Day 29 Wed 15 Mar
Suramedura artist Mary Genis uses cane and fabric bought in Sri Lanka to create hooped skirts for her performance.I continue working on my theme of deconstructing carnival, but what is that?
I can only explain what it means to me which is cutting back on all the things I love about Caribbean style carnival; the mas with feathers, glitter and beads; the shiny chromed steel pans; the calypso, soca and sound systems, and the flags and banners.

For the deconstruction, I go back to the roots of carnival by creating the dudup – grandfather to the steel pan; the mas influenced by Brazilian Candomblé and the masquerade balls of the French plantation owners in Trinidad; and the dance inspired by ancient rituals.  I am using only local materials to create a performance for Sura Medura that is enchanted by Sri Lanka.

Deconstructing carnival - an oil drum is recycled into a dudup the grandfather of the steel panI test the process of making the dudup by hammering an off centre groove across what will become the playing surface to create two different notes. It is heated on the fire, quickly cooled down and after a few more taps, I am surprised with the results; a reasonable sound from such a battered old oil drum.

This will become part of my two part performance; the deconstructed costume (mas), music (calypso) and dance.  Part two is the ritual of recycling the oil drum to make and play a dudup.


Day 30 Thu 16 Mar
Yet more planning,  we walk though each performance, practice the banquet elements,  test the PA equipment and make lists of what we need to buy or hire.  Sunbeach manager Chaminda helps us with technical stuff and our more unusual requests.

A second coaching session with Bettina provides valuable support for my performance which Lewis and I practice afterwards, in costume.   A very useful exercise that enables us to tidy up the dance and timings, and I make necessary adjustments to the costumes.

I collaborate with Lewis to create a deconstructing carnival dance

Day 31 Fri 17 March
Today we meet with Neil and Bob to explain how the event will work, exactly what we are doing and the experience the audience will have.  Their feedback and experience of previous resident cohorts will help us to hone the creative details.

There is a great deal to do – work on and rehearse our solo performances, create a collaboration finale, organise the programme, set up social networking event, and coordinate the technicalities.

This is unlike the first part of the residency when we had time to relax and explore, now we must work at every spare moment to ensure the finale of the residency is a success.

Hikkaduwa Beach Sri Lanka - from Sunbeach Hotel. At last my love has come along

Day 32 Sat 18 Mar
The day starts with a delicious fruit selection of mango, papaya, watermelon and passion fruit – a strange unpalatable looking fruit with large black seeds. Once you get past it’s ugliness the taste is quite divine.

Breakfast fruit platter at Sunbeach Hotel Hikkaduwa
Breakfast fruit platter

Bob hosts the lunchtime talk about co-curating the city.  He gives us a fascinating insight into his work as an advisor for international cultural projects, and how systematic changes can be made in cities like Barcelona, Brussels, Galway and Glasgow using large scale projects.

Sri Lanka – press and publicity

The Moving Beyond event posters and flyers are printed and press releases have gone out to radio, television and newspapers.

Suramedura present Moving Beyond flyer 24 March 2017 at Sunbeach Hotel Hikkaduwa

We get good coverage in the Sri Lanka press with the headline ‘Hikkaduwa to experience a cultural explosion‘ in the Colombo Gazette and the Daily Mirror 

Hikkaduwa to experience a cultural explosion with moving beyond Hikkaduwa to experience a cultural explosion with moving beyond

One more week to go!  This may be my last (or possibly penultimate) post from Sri Lanka as a busy week is ahead.  Although I am inspired to continue writing a blog in the future.

In the meantime I may post my Week 6 blog from the UK with news of the Moving Beyond events and my last days as a Sura Medura International Artist in Residence in Sri Lanka.

ඉස්තුති istuti- thank you (for reading).



  1. It is all so marvellous. Following your journey is inspiring and your solo and joint performances are going to be fascinating and wonderful

  2. Thanks for your encouraging words Celia.

  3. Hi Mary

    Great to hear about everything you are up to….

    Wishing you well for the final performance!

    all the best


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