The Night “Qayqa” Went Out Into the World

22 Sep

This summer, I went into hiding. I did it with a simple goal: translate Qayqa. Not only because she has been alive and finished for a year now… but because I had found the perfect night to introduce her to the world: Culture Night 2011.

A quick catch-up for those who don’t know Culture Nights:  Once a year, the city of Ulm proudly presents its artistic capacity. Cafés, bars, art galleries, concert halls and rundown houses are opened for dance performances, art exhibitions, readings and interactive media. Just to give you an idea of how overwhelming it can be, the event brochure boasts: “1 Night, 500 Artists, 95 Locations”!

It’s always a mad scramble among artists to find just the right location for the night. As I scouted the city, I introduced myself to the owner of the esoteric Bookshop Eichhorn. I had an idea that this may be a nice location for Qayqa‘s first public reading because the novel is based on Peruvian shaman philosophies. Also, I would be accompanied by mantra singers!

O, I’m an avid follower of the Beat Generation and spoken word performances in general. My idea of a perfect night out is a spoken word performance accompanied by jazz. How amazing! The intertwining of music and sound… until words become the waves that ride the ocean of rhythm… Breathtaking!

The mantra singers who accompanied me that night were Antal Nitsche and Wolfgang von Boyen: sweet and funny men, who putted about as they decorated the room, draped clothes, scented the room and lit candles. They had me in a constant fit of giggles.I had no worries that we might not get along: from all our conversations, it was clear that we were on the same page and wanted the same thing from the night. We wanted “experimental fusion”. We wanted to push the boundaries of our art. We wanted to see to what extent we could marry Qayqa with mantra songs.

In my eyes, it wasn’t as much a marriage as a ceremony of birth. To celebrate the birth, Antal and Wolfgang told me something that gave me great pride and delight: they had written a mantra song for Qayqa. Wolfgang suggested we sing it at the beginning of each performance. What beauty, what joy, to sing a song for Qayqa!

The readings were electrifying. At each performance, I read a different extract from my novel, with the musicians always improvising and singing beside me. The audience leaned back and closed their eyes. Drifted away. Some stared at us, transfixed. Absolute silence expect for Qayqa and the music.

Joyful feedback after each performance. My hand was shaken and I was thanked by strangers. An elderly woman returned with the words: “I enjoyed it so much, I just had to come back for more.” One couple just stayed where they were and said, “We’ll sit here and wait for your next performance.”

What a birth you had, Qayqa. A magical night fit for a magical novel.

We filmed an impression, which I would like to share with you:

I loved my performance costume. I felt as though I could convince the world to walk with me to the sun. After the last performance, a friend said to me: “You looked as though you were floating.”

She was so well received, my Qayqa, my child. Before I stepped onto the stage each night, I looked at my reflection and told myself, “I am doing this for the Andes. I am doing this for Peru.” For my heritage, for my people. Qayqa is my way of transporting my Peruvian heritage to the hearts of people.

My dear audience, wherever you may be now, I want to say: thank you so much for being there, for listening. Thank you for the feedback I shall always treasure in my heart. Thank you for making this night so unique and special.

That was Qayqa‘s first night out. I look forward to her next performance! I look forward to her magic and to your feedback. Thank you.


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