[WORKING TITLE] Roman Fever
- a 30 Birds Collective commission
Roman Fever[working title] is an immersive AR/VR opera exploring the lifecycle of the malaria parasite. The project is formed of a close collaboration between Waste Paper Opera Company, Gareth Bloomfield, research scientist in cell biology at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and artist Gary Zhexi Zhang.
We depend critically on our intimate relationships with the organisms that live inside us. Our microbiomes influence our world, affecting our health and our emotional state. But our symbionts are also responsible for most of our illnesses and disease, from stomach ulcers to sleeping sickness. How do we come to understand the porous boundaries and mutual entanglements of parasite and host, life within life?
We explore these critical issues through the story of Lucretius, the Roman philosopher, who is suffering from malaria. Febris, the goddess of fever, pulls him into the lull of his sickness, conjuring hallucinations in the poet’s restless mind. In the throes of his dream, he sees visions of sex and death raging inside his own body, following the passage of the malaria parasite and bearing witness to the consummation its lifecycle through its other biological host, the mosquito.
This project will developed in several stages; an initial performance and presentation of research up to date in March 2018 in Cambridge, a full scale opera in 2019, and a VR experience to be toured through galleries and museums after the conclusion of the project. We hope to engage audiences across the UK through multi-sensory experience: a hallucinatory cocktail of operatic melodrama, evolutionary biology, and body horror.