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Friday, June 23, 2017

Caravanserai 1: A Silk Road Celebration of the Arts

East and West meet along the Silk Road in a project to be featured during this month's MOOC 2017 in Second Life.

"The desert sands lead on, but look ahead -
a palace of bright tents and green date palms
where camel backs can crumple knee bones down.
An oasis waits beneath the desert moon.".

Dr Chris Mooney Singh (Singh Albatros) of The Writers Centre, Singapore and Scott Grant (Kaylee West) of Monash University in Melbourne Australia come together to create an event celebrating the connective cultural thread that is the legendary Silk Road - Caravanserai 1.  In a desert oasis setting, they have brought together artists from around the grid for storytelling, drama, song, and machinima, to be followed by a panel discussion of the value of virtual arts in education.  The performance will take place Saturday, June 24th at 7am slt. 

This free performance is open to all Second Life Residents, and is part of this year's SL MOOC, a month long cavalcade of education which focuses on active learning, reflection, sharing, and collaboration. The aim of the courses and workshops offered is for the participants to learn through meaningful connections and social interactions, building on the strength of virtual worlds as learning tools.

Caravanserai's intent is to celebrate the sharing of different cultures by transporting guests to an earlier time when the Silk Road contributed hugely to artistic and cultural understanding and world culture.  Travelers going both directions would seek shelter in oasis' or a caravanserai: an inn with a central courtyard for wayfarers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and Southeast Europe, especially along the Silk Road.  In that pre-television, pre-internet time, it is easy to imagine people from many different traditions gathered around a fire with refreshments, sharing songs and tales of their lands and travels.

Singh narrates the hour long plus program, featuring his own adaptation of The Elephant and the Six Blind Men, original songs, special musical guest - gypsy violinist Navtali Torok, and James Elroy Flecker's 1913 verse drama The Golden Road to Samarkand.  Singh is joined by actors Pip Albatros, Corwyn Allen, and Mavromichali Szondi.  There will be a screening of a machinima based on the Edwin Thumboo poem "Ulysses by the Merlion" in which the speaker is Ulysses, the Homeric hero. By strange design or cosmic accident he finds himself in Asia, confronting this strange dragon, or naga-like creature and the Asian sea culture that it represents.

There will be time for Questions and Answers as part of the panel discussion portion of the program, before the final song before the caravan comes full circle, and guests disembark for their native lands once more.

Caravanserai 1 benefits Feed a Smile which supports a school in Kenya founded and run by Brique Topaz 16 years ago through her German-based Feed a Smile charity. 100 Lindens equals approximately 30 cents in real world currency, which pays for one child’s meal. One third of all money raised for each month's food budget is collected through donations in SL at The Lavender Fields where musicians perform in support of the children.

Much of Caravanserai 1 will be in voice, performed live.  To find out more about the MOOC component of the program, visit any of the live MOOC events.  Wonder why the program in numbered 1?  The creators hope this may be the first of a series of similar offerings that will emerge across the grid, sharing the coming together of diverse cultural traditions and the further growth of understanding through the arts.  So, make ready the camels!  Caravanserai is about to begin, and you do not want to miss the journey.

Caravanserai 1
At Monash University in Second Life
Saturday, June 24th at 7am slt

~ Caledonia Skytower
Any ink is good ink, even if it is virtual


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