Matti Braun (with Henrietta Hale): The Alien

The Showroom worked with Laban, Europe’s leading contemporary dance conservatoire, on the presentation of The Alien: a new cross disciplinary work by Matti Braun that took as its inspiration the storyboard of an unrealised screenplay by the acclaimed Indian film director Satyajit Ray.

In Ray’s The Alien an extraterrestrial crash-lands its space ship into a lotus pond near a remote Bengali village; the space ship sinks beneath the lotus leaves, leaving only its tip sticking out above the water. The story then follows the reactions of the villagers and in particular a little boy, Haba, who befriends the Alien. The Alien plays a series of pranks upon the locals; the local priest interprets these as miracles and he convinces the villagers that the golden spire of the spacecraft is really a submerged temple. An unscrupulous businessman hatches a plan to drain the pond to reveal the supposed temple, but his plan fails and the Alien departs leaving confusion and consternation behind him.

Satyajit Ray was never able to realise The Alien as a film, even though he took the idea to Hollywood and came close to getting it produced with a cast that would have included Marlon Brando and Peter Sellers. Matti Braun gave The Alien a new form that Ray could probably not have imagined. Braun reinterpreted the script, first as a gallery installation, then as series of shorter performances and finally as a fully blown performance piece that includes theatrical tableaux, choreographed dance sequences, live musical score and a set designed by the artist. For the London debut, the costumes were designed in collaboration with Hoxton Boutique, one of London’s most creative and innovative venues for fashion.

The Alien is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Foundation, Arts Council England Grants for Arts, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen and Goethe-Institut London.


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