“New Kid on the Block – KÀ” (Part 2 of 3)
By: Wayne Leung – Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
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PART II: The Story of KÀ:
– Dramatis Personae: The Tribes and Peoples of KÀ –
The characters of KÀ inhabit a world of many tribes and factions. These tribes are largely segregated from each other and some tribes are in conflict with others. The story of KÀ brings together the different peoples of this world to meet their collective destiny.
The Empire: A noble, proud and peaceful society, which represents the pinnacle of civilization in the world of KÀ. The Empire is the height of art, culture, and education. They have developed a graceful and majestic form of martial arts, which its combatants practice.
The Twins – A boy (Cheri Tabushi Haight) and a girl (Jennifer Kimberly Haight), they represent the hope for the future of the Empire. Heirs to the throne, they are raised to be educated and noble but also skilled in combat. The story of KÀ is the story of the twins as they fulfill their respective destinies.
The Emperor (Valentin Ganev) – He is the monarch of the Empire and father of the Twins. Dressed in luminous robes, the Emperor has a regal air.
The Empress (Ekatarina Bogdanova) – She rules by the side of her husband, the Emperor, and is the mother of the Twins. Her elaborate dress references the Peking Opera, and the weeping tree design embroidered on her sleeves suggests a slight melancholy to her character.
The Nursemaid (Teuda Bara) – The Twins’ guardian, she is charged with watching over and caring for the Twins in their young age. Somewhat of a surrogate mother, her relationship with the Twins is one of mutual loyalty and love.
The Court Jester (Kleber Conrado Berto) – The Fool of the court, he shares a special bond with the Twins. He dances and entertains but is also an agile acrobat and possesses strength and courage beyond his role as a jester.
The Valets (Anatoli Akerman, William Ferreira Amaral, Cbastien Tardif) – Servants of the Imperial Court, the Valets are a mischievous and bumbling trio who constantly get into trouble. They play off each others’ stupidities like the Three Stooges.
The Imperial Guards – Practitioners of the graceful and noble form of martial arts developed by the Empire, the Imperial Guards ceremoniously protect the Emperor and his Court. The guards are dressed in Asian-inspired robes with the Empire’s tree insignia across the open chest for the men, and long flowing robes hanging from the upper-body for the women.
The Archers: A malevolent underground society. Comprised of factions of archers and spearmen living deep beneath the surface of the Earth in caves, the bottoms of their faces are obscured with muzzles, and they have emblazoned intricate tattoos all over their bodies. The Archers mine a rare element that can be processed into powerful explosives for weapons. They have mastered the art of aerial combat and fly from scaffold to scaffold in their underground mines. Their society is built on war, destruction and dominion by force. They will stop at nothing to conquer the world of KÀ and enslave its inhabitants.
The Evil Counselor (JÃ¶rg Lemke) – Leader of the Archer Tribe, architect of its deadly arsenal of destruction and strategist behind the Archers’ plans for domination. He is the brains of the Archer Tribe.
The Counselor’s Son (Miro Lacasse) – A brilliant designer of weapons and war machines and practitioner of the Tribe’s Aerial combat techniques, the malignant, jealous and petty son of the Counselor is being reared to succeed his father at the helm of the Archer Tribe.
The Chief Archer (Viken Kayabalian) – The stone-cold and imposing General of the Archers’ forces, he directs the archers and spearmen during their strategic attacks. He commands the respect and loyalty of his troops. If the Counselor is the brains of the Archers, the Chief Archer is the brawn. The only glimpse of his heart is shown in his love for his daughter.
The Chief Archer’s Daughter (Noriko Takahashi) – A femme-fatale, the irresistibly beautiful, tough-as-nails daughter of the Head Archer is desired by all of the men of the Archer tribe. She continually spurns their affection but knows how to use her sexuality to get what she wants from them The many spider-like references in her costume suggest she is a black widow, although underneath her brazen exterior she secretly yearns for a virtuous life and the love of one who is pure of heart.
The Mountain Tribe: A tribe of white fur-clad mountain-dwellers who descend from the heights to fish and scavenge for food. They are agile climbers and mountaineers. Their deceptively primitive appearance gives no hint of the fact that they are actually brilliant engineers and inventors.
The Forest Tribe: An ancient, mysterious and mystical airborne people who inhabit the treetops of the forest. A majestic tribe gifted with the ability of flight, and masters of aerial combat, they are a peaceful society but will fight to free those enslaved and oppressed by the Archers.
Firefly Boy (Igor Zaripov) – The young, handsome leader of the Forest Tribe; he swings from the treetops like Tarzan. His heart of gold compels him to fight to uphold the good in the world.
The Animals: The animals in the world of KÀ are sentient, possessing human-like characteristics and are a benevolent presence. Some of the animals we meet in KÀ include a pair of crabs, a starfish, a turtle, a giant grass-hopper, a snake and a caterpillar.
– Synopsis –
The ushers who greet the audience are part of the pre-show animation; they are courtiers in the Imperial court, and are “in character”, chatting and interacting with the guests while they seat them. The cavernous showroom suggests that we are in an underground cave or mine. Large fireballs periodically leap from the abyss at the front of the theatre. Atmospheric sound effects, dissonant chords of music and guttural whispers can be heard throughout the theatre (played through the personal sound system embedded in each theatre seat).
Slowly, the Archers creep out onto the catwalks. They have a fearsome demeanor as they jump from catwalk to catwalk flying from level to level and set about their work in the mine. The theatre is aflutter with activity with Archers flying about when the Evil Counselor emerges and slinks across the ledge of the pit where he is joined by his son. They are about to discuss the rare element which the workers are mining when some hapless audience member flashes a camera in their faces. The Counselor’s Son pulls the inconsiderate guest from the audience onto the ledge of the abyss, confiscates his camera and tosses it into the void where it erupts in a fiery flash. The same fate befalls the guest’s cell phone when it starts to ring and, when he is about to light a cigarette, the guest himself is thrown into the void!
With a tap from the Evil Counselor’s percussive sticks, the Archers on the catwalks erupt into a series of battle cries, the lights dim and the show begins.
Scene 1: The Journey Home/The Pageant/Siege of the Archers
Angelic vocalizations fill the air as rays of light emanate from the abyss. We hear the distinct sound of children laughing and playing. Suddenly we catch our first glimpse of the magnificent Sand-Cliff Deck, which rises from the deep as a ship. Imperial Guards flank either side of the ship and row. The Twins are happily play-fighting on the deck. The ship’s deck raises above the audience’s eye level and several key characters are revealed within as the massive deck revolves; the Valets, the Chief Archer’s Daughter and the Twins’ Nursemaid who is busily finishing the ceremonial robes that the Twins will don for the reception that awaits their homecoming.
The ship docks. The Emperor, Empress, Court Jester and other members of the Imperial Court appear at the back of the stage on the Tatami deck which slides forward to meet the ship. The Court celebrates the return of the Twins by staging a magnificent pageant. The Imperial Guards engage in a graceful and synchronized martial arts demonstration as the Sand-Cliff deck revolves, showing the group from different angles. The spectacular effect mimics a panning camera move in a film. The Imperial Guard’s Lady Officer takes centre stage to perform a solo martial-arts routine where she dances with the Court Jester and juggles flower sticks.
It is time for the Twins to resume their studies. A Valet brings a large pile of books but instead of reading them he juggles them to the amusement of the court. Finally, the Twins serenade the court by playing a sweet, evocative melody on their flutes.
As the orchestra strikes an ominous chord Archers invade the aisles of the theatre and the catwalks. They draw their bows and poise to strike. An arrow hits the stage; the Archers’ siege of the Empire begins; Pandemonium engulfs the Imperial court. The Emperor is fatally wounded. The Twins scream in terror as they witness the assassination of their mother, the Empress.
Scene 2: Parting of the Twins/The Storm
The surviving members of the Court desperately flee as the palace burns to the ground. The Court hopes to escape by means of a small sailboat, but in the confusion that ensues the Twins are separated. The Girl sets sail on the boat with the Nursemaid, the Valets and several Imperial Guards. The Boy and the Jester flee by land with the Archers in pursuit.
We follow the Girl and watch as her boat sails into a fierce storm. We hear the choir singing ominously. The small boat rocks violently as the Girl, the Nursemaid, the Valets and other occupants hold on for dear life. The waves aggressively toss the boat about as if it were a toy. Several Imperial Guards are dramatically tossed overboard. The ferocious winds rip off the boat’s sail. Finally, the boat capsizes. The Twin Girl desperately climbs to the top of the mast as the boat sinks into the deep.
Scene 3: Underwater
As a soft piano and cello duet plays we hear a splash and see the Nursemaid drowning in the water. A trail of projected bubbles follows her body as it sinks into the deep. With another splash we see the Girl determinedly swimming downward. She rescues her Nursemaid and pulls her back up toward the surface.
Scene 4: The Archers’ Den
The scene changes and we are now inside the den of the Archers. A battalion of spearmen in ranks perform a synchronized dance to demonstrate their deadly prowess. We meet the Chief Archer and begin to sense the uneasy power balance that he shares with the Evil Counselor. We are also introduced to the Chief Archer’s daughter who is the object of every Archer’s desire, including the Counselor’s Son. She spurns the attention of the men and relishes the role of “daddy’s little girl”. Meanwhile, the Counselor’s Son demonstrates a model of the Death Machine that he has designed to refine the rare mineral that the Archers mine into a powerful explosive compound that can be used to kill and destroy all that stand in the Archers’ path to conquest of the world.
Scene 5: The Beach
The Sand-Cliff Deck rises from the void and its entire upper surface is now covered in sand (actually ground cork). We see the Girl and Nursemaid lying unconscious on the beach. Suddenly two large puppet crabs (flexible performers in full-body puppet costumes actually crab-walking to animate the crabs) emerge from the sand and wake the Girl and her Nursemaid. The Imperial Court’s three valets swim up to the storm-tossed beach. The group reunites and proceeds to explore the beach discovering and interacting with an array of whimsical creatures; a starfish, a sea-turtle and a spiny caterpillar. The exiles eventually leave the beach and continue on their journey.
Scene 6: Lantern (Shadow Puppets)
Once the group leaves the stage, the Sand-Cliff Deck tilts toward the audience and all of the sand from the beach is dumped into the void. When the deck reaches full-vertical we see the Boy and Jester emerge from the wings and venture across the front ledge of the void. They have been fleeing the Archers and are in need of rest. The Boy’s hand was injured in the melee of the palace siege and the Jester sets down the lantern he is carrying to examine the Boy’s injured hand. The shadows created by the characters’ hands are projected by the lantern onto the vertical deck behind them. The Jester notices this and proceeds to comfort the Boy by coaching him into creating an elaborate series of shadow puppets on the wall; a dog, a dove and a cat. This sequence pays tribute to the first ever form of technology-based storytelling and the fact that the actors perform a simple shadow-puppet show in a multi-million dollar theatre is somewhat ironic. Though simple, the sequence is one of the most touching in the show and serves to illustrate the strong bond and relationship the Boy shares with the Jester.
However, the moment of respite is short-lived as Archers soon appear and the pursuit begins anew. The Boy and Jester flee.
Scene 7: The Mountainside/Attack of the Archers/Ice-slide
The Sand-Cliff Deck tilts to an angle; a projection suggests that it is now an icy slope. The Girl and her entourage arrive at the foot of the mountain and cautiously proceed to climb the dangerously slippery slope. Suddenly, the group is ambushed by Archers who fire arrows onto the icy cliff and proceed to pursue our heroes. The Ice slope begins to rotate while the Archers continue to embed arrows into its face. The characters use the arrows as holding points for acrobatic manoeuvres as they slip and slide about the face of the rapidly rotating deck. During the course of the thrilling sequence the Nursemaid slides off the edge of the deck into the abyss, the three valets are captured by the Archers and the Girl is rescued by a couple of fur-clad Mountain men. The pursuing Archers all eventually slide off the wildly spinning deck and drop into the void. At the end of the scene the deck tilts to full vertical becoming a “cliff,” and the final Archer drops to his death in the void.
Scene 8: The Blizzard/Treetop Chase
Snow falls gently from the sky as we see the Nursemaid unconscious on the Tatami deck which slides in underneath the vertical cliff. She is discovered by two Mountain men who help lift her (and their cargo of freshly-caught fish) up the cliff in a large sling. The Nursemaid is reunited with the Girl. The two Mountain men scale the vertical wall.
At the front of the void, a large palisade of wooden posts, suggesting treetops, rises and we see the Chief Archer’s Daughter playing in the snow. Several Archers join her, brazenly leaping from post to post. As always, the Archers flirt with the Chief’s daughter, continuously vying for her affection, and as always she spurns their attention. When the Archers sense the approach of the Boy and the Jester, they crouch behind the posts and hide. The Archers ambush the Boy and Jester and a battle ensues. The Boy and Jester valiantly battle the
Archers but are outnumbered. The Jester falls into the void, and the boy is captured. The Chief Archer’s Daughter watches as the Boy is carried away.
Scene 9: Mountaintop Refuge/Archers Attack
Still vertical, the cliff descends half-way into the void and we see the encampment of the Mountain men perched on top of the cliff. The camp consists of a teepee and small fire. The Nursemaid and Girl emerge from the teepee and interact with the Mountain men in a brief moment of levity.
However, the group’s rest is short-lived; the Archers once again fill the aisles of the theatre and fire on the group. The Girl and her Nursemaid are frightened but the Mountain men have a clever plan for escape.
Scene 10: Flight of the Bird
The Mountain men usher the Nursemaid and Girl into the teepee and, surprisingly, the sides of the tent fly up and the teepee turns into a large Leonardo Davinci-esque flying machine. With a Mountain man on either side flapping the wings the Bird takes flight and the group sails directly over the heads of the audience, venturing as far as half way to the back of the auditorium. The Girl dangles precariously underneath the bird and performs a series of aerial cradle skills. The Bird sails into the wings of the theatre and away from the attacking Archers.
Scene 11: Captivity/Lovers/Dance of the Magic Flute
Back inside the lair of the Archers, the Counselor’s son oversees construction of the massive Death Machine that will process the mined ore into deadly weapons. Lifts rise at the front of the void to reveal the captives from the Empire, now slaves housed in round hamster wheel-like cages. The Boy is brought into the lair and thrown into one of these cages. The Chief Archer’s Daughter comes to see the Boy. She reveals the flutes given to her by her father as a souvenir of the raid on the Empire. They are the Twins’ flutes. The Archer’s
Daughter gives the Boy a flute and he plays a sweet, evocative melody for her. She is enchanted by the Boy’s song and leans toward him. The Boy sneaks a kiss. The Archer’s daughter is smitten, she has fallen in love with the Boy but is conflicted. Their love is forbidden and she has a duty to uphold to the Archers. After a moment of hesitation she opens the cage and allows the Boy to escape. He leaves her with a kiss and gives her his flute as a token of his love for her.
Love fills the Archer’s Daughter’s heart for the first time and she performs a beautiful dance with the flute (an intricate baton manipulation routine).
The Counselor’s son has secretly witnessed the entire scene. He collapses to his knees in anguish; his heartbreak galvanizes his resolve to destroy the Twins and the last remaining hope for the Empire.
Scene 12: The Forest
Hanging vine-like structures and columns fly into place from the wings. They evoke the lush foliage of a dense forest canopy. The Firefly Boy swings in the air and performs an aerial straps routine. Meanwhile Forest men are swaying and jumping from large swinging Chinese poles and creatures descend on the large columns, among them a giant winding snake. Singer Beth Quist is perched on a hanging vine and sings an exotic melody while playing a small hand drum.
The Twin Girl appears to have fallen from the Mountain men’s Bird and we see her falling through the forest canopy. She is rescued by the Firefly Boy.
Scene 13: The Slave Cage
We return to the Archers’ Den where the Death Machine has been completed and the enslaved former citizens of the Empire (including the captured Nursemaid and Valets) toil away in the mines.
The jealous and vengeful Counselor’s son, designer of the Death Machine, now senses he has enough support and admiration amongst the Archers’ forces to stage a coup. Having had his heart broken by the Chief Archers’ Daughter he captures the Chief Archer and assumes command of the Archers’ forces.
The Counselor’s Son’s fiendish Death Machine (Wheel of Death) is powered by slaves running in hamster-wheel cages on both ends of a long rotating pendulum arm. We recognize the two slaves in the Wheel of Death as former members of the Imperial Court. While operating the machine, the slaves escape out of the cage and brazenly taunt their captives by performing elaborate and dangerous stunts on the moving Death Machine.
The enslaved Empire is inspired by the courage of the two slaves and while the Archers are distracted by the events, the Empire rises up and revolts against its captors. The bravery of the two slaves in the Wheel of Death begins to turn the tide in the war. In the confusion, the Chief Archer’s daughter is able to rescue her father from captivity.
Meanwhile, in the course of their separate adventures the Twins reunite and joyously celebrate their reunion. Together they will fight for the freedom of the Empire.
Scene 14: Drums of War/The Final Battle
The Girl has enlisted the help of the Firefly Boy who rallies the Forest people to the aid of the Empire. As the drums of war echo throughout the theatre the Twins, the Firefly Boy and the Forest people suit up and prepare for the final battle.
Our heroes stand on the ledge of the void. The Sand-Cliff deck, now serving as a battlefield, rises and on the opposite end we see the forces of the Archers, now under the command of the Counselor’s Son, in attack formation.
The deck tilts to near-vertical (approximately 80Â° from horizontal). We will watch the battle from an overhead view. The approximately twenty combatants are all rigged to harnesses and suspended from individual flying winches. As they jump, fly and land on the battlefield, projected patterns radiate outward from their landing spots The forces launch into their attack. A chaotic battle ensues with combatants making flying leaps through the air. When it looks like our heroes are on the verge of winning the Archers unleash flash-bombs and push their line forward. Our heroes reform their ranks and resolvedly fight through with all of their might and, despite their disadvantage, they are able to defeat the Archers’ forces by sheer determination.
As the battle ends we see the Evil Counselor rushing to the aid of his wounded son who is lying on the battlefield.
Scene 15: Epilogue/Finale
The lights fade up and the Tatami Deck slides forward. We get the sense that some time has passed and we relish in the resolution of the story. The Twins are reunited with each other, their Nursemaid and their Valets. The Empire is restored with the Twins as the rulers. The Boy has wed the Chief Archer’s Daughter. The Girl has married the Firefly Boy and is now pregnant. The Chief Archer, now dressed in a ceremonial Imperial robe, presents his bow and breaks it over his knee signifying his new dedication to peace.
A moment of tension arises as the Counselor and his son arrive at the celebration. The Son bears what looks like an explosive device. However, the device is not a weapon but rather a firework. In a glorious gesture of peace and reconciliation the Counselor’s son illuminates the skies over the Empire with a magnificent pyrotechnic display. The Counselor and his son have realized the error of their ways and are determined to act now in the name of peace. The Death Machine rises from the void, except it has been converted to a beautiful spinning windmill of fire. The Court Jester emerges from behind the machine.
The peoples of the world of KÀ have been united, peace pervades the land and the civilization can live in peace and harmony.