Inspired by Amos Tutuola's 1954 novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Tori Iwatani's influential 1980s video game Pac Man, Four Electric Ghosts follows the afterlives of four ghosts who separately encounter the same mortal in their journey through the Land of the Dead. The story is told through dance, narration, and original music.
The story begins in the Land of the Living. A wise farmer splits a kola nut into four parts and gives them to her four daughters. She also gives them protective chalk. The daughters plant their protective chalk and each reaps a special gift that they are to use for the good of their community: a powerful axe, a magical quill pen, a miraculous, and enchanted bells that can charm any audience. When the sisters later arrive as ghosts in the Land of the Dead, they still carry their gifts. But they decide to venture out and explore the Land of the Dead on their own.
We travel with each sister to a different ghost town, and in each town we learn that the laws, customs, and materials are different from the next. The ghosts find praise, acceptance, love, and fame in the afterlife, but when they forget the true purpose of their gifts, they lose everything they have gained. Each journey is punctuated with songs in the related traditions of funk, rock, and R&B. The story ends with an invitation to join the performers in a final dance.
Four Electric Ghosts was developed at Toni Morrison's Atelier at Princeton and commissioned by the Kitchen in New York .
Concept / Story / Music: Mendi + Keith Obadike
Originally commissioned by The Kithcen
Curated by Rashida Bumbray
*Choreography & Stage Direction* Paloma McGregor and Patricia McGregor
* Mendi Obadike
Latasha Nevada Diggs
Karma Mayet Johnson
First Sister (Red #ff0052), aka Eke: Maria Bauman
Second Sister (Pink #ffbde6), aka Oye: Keisha Turner
Third Sister (Cyan #2bffe6), aka Afor: Marjani Forte
Fourth Sister (Orange #ffba3d), aka Nkwo: Catherine Denecy
Young Mortal (on screen): Paloma McGregor
Drums: Guillermo E. Brown
Piano: Shoko Nagai
Bass: Keith Witty
Guitar: Keith Obadike
Costumes: Kate Cusack
Lighting: S. Ryan Schmidt
Video/Animation: Yuki Nakajima
Set: Alex Delaunay
©2009 Mendi + Keith Obadike