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Martyr Red (2013)

Co-created by Camilleri and Vivas, Martyr Red is Icarus Project’s new performance since 2007. Work-in-progress presentations were held at the University of Kent (Canterbury) in May 2013. The piece was then performed at the University of Huddersfield in October and in Malta in November 2013. Martyr Red signals the initial phase of a new performance process by Icarus Project.

Thematically, the initial stimulus for the work was ‘martyrs’, with particular inspiration from Christian iconography. The theme evolved into a narrative-liturgy of temptation, self-doubt, sacrifice, martyrdom, and sublimation – a play of passion that treads the fine line between intense suffering and sexual desire.

Structurally, Martyr Red is constructed as an interconnected series of études (‘scenes’), each exploring a different performance format, ranging from text-based to dance-based, to ‘physical theatre’, pageant, performance art, and multimedia. The sequencing of the études follows a dramaturgical development that emerged from the work itself.

The research element of Martyr Red, as explored in each étude, involves a study of ‘habitational action’ in performance. The term emerged from Icarus Project’s ongoing research since 2001 on the area between training and performance as a self-contained and integral phenomenon. The Project develops its research by means of two branches: (1) performance structures and (2) technical/experimental structures, both of which explore the interplay between training and performance via improvisation processes. ‘Habitational action’ emerged from the second branch, marking a distinction from both ‘outer action’ and ‘inner action’ (see Frank Camilleri, ‘Between Laboratory and Institution: Practice as Research in No Man’s Land’, TDR, 2013; ‘Habitational Action: Between Inner and Outer Action’, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 2013; and ‘Yours Neutrally, Habitational Action’: Performance between Theatre and Dance, New Theatre Quarterly, 29:3 (2013).

Martyr Red includes texts from T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral and ‘Love Song of St Sebastian’, as well as from Charles Mee’s ‘My House was Collapsing Toward One Side’ and John Banville’s The Newton Letter.

Music is from Angel Villoldo’s ‘El Choclo’, Julius Fučík’s ‘Entry of the Gladiators’, and Fashion Songs Minimal Dance.

Costumes are by the performers, and by Liz White based on Jacob Kimmie’s Martyr Collection (2011) and Jennifer Hecker’s Martyr Dolls.

The Malta performances in November 2013 were followed by (n)Yet, a video work by film-maker Dustin Cauchi, inspired by the themes of Martyr Red.