A weekend long immersive theatre event – 12-14 august 2016 – Fort de Lantin (Belgium)
Orenda is an event full of adventure, mystery and intrigue. It is set in a fictional, alternate history version of 1869. A world of expeditions and colonial wars. Of industry, poverty and social injustice. But also of great discoveries and people striving for a better society. And a world of Orenda, a new fuel, the capabilities of which seem endless.
On the way to Melbourne, an emergency signal reaches the S.S. Great Britain and the airship d’Onvermoeide: the Krakatau volcano has exploded, with disastrous consequences. A tsunami of more than thirty meters high has engulfed Java and Sumatra and the ash cloud of the volcano has colored the sky black. Sea and air traffic is diverted to nearby ports. The S.S. Great Britain and d’Onvermoeide leave for the harbor of Perth, Australia and are taken in at Fremantle Prison, now a re-education colony (“Institution zur Umerziehung von Abschaum”) under the inspirational leadership of Agathe Knüppelkuh, the daughter of a nobleman from Darmstadt.
Life in Fremantle Prison is heavy: the barren Australian soil does not want to grow, the supply of goods from Europe arrives slowly; and only through hard work and cooperation have the prisoners survived. There was hope for a moment when doctor Frederick Klaus joined the colony, followed shortly thereafter by the brilliant inventor Edgar Doig, who provided the prison with some modernities (especially mechanical men, called ‘automatons’), but both are affected by fate. Klaus died of acute appendicitis in the winter of 1870 and Doig did not die long before the arrival of the expedition members, caught in one of his own machines. The other prisoners and Doig’s wife question the accident; the mechanic was a careful man who knew his machines through and through. And where did the drawings of all his inventions go?
With the help of the detainees and letters of Moondyne Joe – an infamous thief – the expedition members follow the trail from Alexandrine Tinne to Cornelius’ Dream, a small estate located near Fremantle Prison. Here they descend into Mulka’s Cave, according to the stories of the local indigenous people the domain of the Rainbow Snake, a mythical figure that connects everything, the ‘everywhen’. Moondyne Joe warns the expedition members that the cave cannot be lightly entered: it is a sacred place where people come and share stories from the beginning of time. Whoever wants to penetrate the heart of the cave (as Alexandrine apparently intended), must honor the local customs and walk the story rooms, at one with his tribe, with himself and the ancestors.
The expedition members do not have much time to think about their discovery in the cave: lieutenant general De Brauw has been busy recruiting new recruits for the KNIL (the Royal Dutch East Indies Army). He has convinced the majority of the expedition members to head with him to Batavia, Java, to represent the country’s interests there. And so the S.S. Great Britain continues its journey.
Goijaart van Dijk
“Orenda was a revelation. Through the immersion, through the stories and by submersing myself in my role, I finally understood where immersive theatre takes place: in the heart. I am now completely addicted to Orenda and its stories”
“I have not seen an event that is so intense for the spiritual and physical struggles of those present. The fact that people discover and re-discover themselves, expose their vulnerabilities (literally or figuratively) and dare to surrender themselves so completely remains an amazing experience. There is a wonderful balance between trust, fun and wonder; and I have sincerely never had as many beautiful moments on an event as during this Orenda.
Call me a sentimental tuthola, but when we were sitting on the roof in the evening, together in small groups, something broke in me. I felt so intimately connected with everything and everyone that I suddenly understood why some cultures and beliefs attach so much value to the ‘unity in the cosmos’.”
David de Klijn
“Orenda really stands out for me with regards to the atmosphere. Everything we encounter in the setting cooperates so nicely …. The fort, with the authentic rooms, layouts of cells and rooms and the decoration of those spaces. On top of that are all the special effects, with the faltering lights, lightning bolts and the sounds of the storm, followed by the noise of local creatures in the background.”
Lenny de Rooij
“I really like how much we can experience at Orenda. Take the egg, for example. At most other events we would have had to hold a ‘make believe’ flame to it. But at Orenda the thing is really going to work. Magnificent.”
“How cool was that! The details, the sound effects, the storm, the food!! From the goo on Friday night to the the picnic at sunset on Saturday. This was an absolutely amazing event and absolutely screams for more !!”
“I want to shout my experiences from the rooftops, but I’m afraid few people will understand the feeling of a sunset dinner on the roof of a fortress or the sound of your own footsteps in a pool of water, in a completely empty bunker corridor.
I want to use this opportunity to once again thank everyone who has contributed in any way to the moment in the cave Saturday night. This weekend and especially that moment, is one of the most difficult, beautiful and most confronting role play moments ever.”
“First and foremost I want to thank the writers and creators of this event! Wow, what a great job and how much a love and care has gone into this. You have truly been able to come up with something special again.”
“And then there was the cave – what a wonderful scene – I felt like an adventurer from an Edgar Rice Burroughs book. Also, the dancers; you ares os brave. I never dared what you did. You are heroes!”
“I stare at the blank screen and have trouble writing down my experiences of theweekend. Not because there is little to tell, but precisely because there is too much; my head is still full of twirling images, fragments of conversation and flashes of memories. It was overwhelming.”
“I look back on a great weekend. It is too much to mention; the food, the atmosphere, the story lines, and my fellow participants, all were fantastic and I really feel at home on Orenda.