This is the year of 2017, the year when the first robot received her citizenship with Saudi Arabia and the wealthy may clone their dead pets to have them live once again. In Sanctuary, you can live forever digitally. Not just human-beings, but even pet cats and androids may have a whole new identity of their own making online.
Written by Haresh Sharma and Suguru Yamamoto, Sanctuary may be just a glimpse of the near future to come. Heavily monitored when you log on to Sanctuary – a combination of what we now know as Facebook, YouTube and role-playing games, your data is sold to third party sites in real-time. Despite targeted ads popping up minute to minute to divulge your inner most thoughts, users on Sanctuary deem this as freedom and validation. However, their real bodies or real selves are not to be disclosed. What happens online, stays online.
Sounds too familiar to be true?
This 65 minute play directed by Yamamoto together with Alvin Tan takes things up a notch with a constant bombardment of the senses. Multimedia consistently flashing on a huge screen, real-time translations for non-Japanese speakers and plenty of metallic futuristic costumes on the actors are always wrestling for the audiences’ attention. In such an intimate black box setting, this may be overwhelming and the sense of alienation as well as discomfort grows all the way until the end.
Together with this bold creative direction, the actors Audrey Luo, Ellison Tan Yuyang, Fumi Kumakawa, Mikie Tanaka, Kan Fukuhara, Sachiro Nomoto and Yazid Jalil, also seemed detached even though the fourth wall is broken often and eye contact is established. However, that may just be a part of the performance – a commentary on how the current generation of influencers appear to reach their followers but that’s all a facade?
Also, the constant presence of sound artist Bani Haykal is intriguing. Never moving, his being weaves in and out of scenes though no one acknowledges him. With his music subtly manipulating and accompanying the scenes, his quiet presence is curious and frightening at the same time. A reminder of how unknown influences are present yet may slip pass our active consciousness.
Him singing was also an important moment to grasp, as that’s the only real connection I felt though it was brief.
I enjoyed the fleetingness of its storytelling because it is the essence of technology – too many distractions to keep up with and plenty of loose ends left behind. However, I did feel that perhaps the ending made the play a tad too preachy and would have preferred if the message was left more to each audience to decipher for themselves.
However, plenty of its elements are open to many interpretations and I suppose, just like social media, you never really know the intention of another user besides your own. The doubts and the multiple perspectives one can experience this show, are the things that really left an impression on me.
Will Sanctuary be a testament of real life mimicking art, or is this simply art mimicking a real life you are still not conscious of yet?
Originally written for Popspoken.