mendi+keith obadike:: four electric ghosts: an opera-masquerade (mmanwu)
“Four Electric Ghosts definitely set a new plateau for multimedia work by this generation of AfroFuturist performer-conceptualists . . . What more could we ask for from a night at the theater than Dance Music Sex Romance Mysticism and a newfangled notion of global village literature?” -- Greg Tate, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber
“[H]auntingly beautiful” -- Conscious Vibration
“My jaw was on the floor.” – Vijay Iyer, Artforum
Inspired by Amos Tutuola's 1954 novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Toru Iwatani's influential 1980s video game Pac Man, Four Electric Ghosts follows the afterlives of four ghosts who separately encounter the same mortal in their journey through the Land of the Dead. The story is told through dance, narration, and original music.
The story begins in the Land of the Living. A wise farmer splits a kola nut into four parts and gives them to her four daughters. She also gives them protective chalk. The daughters plant their protective chalk and each reaps a special gift that they are to use for the good of their community: a powerful axe, a magical quill pen, a miraculous loom, and enchanted bells that can charm any audience. When the sisters later arrive as ghosts in the Land of the Dead, they still carry their gifts. But they decide to venture out and explore the Land of the Dead on their own.
We travel with each sister to a different ghost town, and in each town we learn that the laws, customs, and materials are different from the next. The ghosts find praise, acceptance, love, and fame in the afterlife, but when they forget the true purpose of their gifts, they lose everything they have gained. Each journey is punctuated with songs in the related traditions of funk, rock, and R&B. The story ends with an invitation to join the performers in a final dance.
Buy the forthcoming book from 1913 Press and the forthcoming album from Hellomachine.com . Four Electric Ghosts was developed at Toni Morrison's Atelier at Princeton and commissioned by the Kitchen in New York.
Concept / Story / Music: Mendi + Keith Obadike
Originally commissioned by The Kithcen
Choreography & Stage Direction
Video Projection Operator
Web Streaming Video Crew