28th Oct 2014

X8 Djembes in VORTEX Production of The Elementals: Earth

Photo Kimberley Mead

VORTEX Repertory Company has made a name for itself in Austin, Texas. The company’s dedication to new types of theatrical forms is obvious and several of its past offerings have boasted award-winning performances. Since 1998, VORTEX has been bringing some of the best and most innovative creative works to the stage and that trend certainly continued with “The Elementals: Earth”.

“The Elementals: Earth” is a staged, ritualistic celebration of one of our most beloved elements. With this production, we are reminded of how important the material realm is and how significant earth actually is. From the moment we step foot inside the theater, we are asked to connect to the element in ways many of us may not do regularly. Upon entering, patrons are given the opportunity to remove their shoes and walk barefoot upon the seventeen tons of dirt covering the playing area.


As the latest installment of VORTEX’s “The Elementals” series, “Earth” uses various quotes to help ground us and myths to help elevate us. There is a feeling of the sacred in the performance, whether we are being encouraged to sing along with ensemble member Chris Humphrey or trying to ascertain why certain members of the cast are buried to their waists. “The Elementals: Earth” successfully reminds us that the soil and dirt we take for granted is special and deserves praise.

X8 had the immense pleasure of taking part in this rousing production through the use of our djembes and didgeridoos. “Earth” is full of musical arrangements, from a cappella harmonies to the song “Bone Woman”, in which our drums play a prominent role.

Bones beneath the skin

Bones beneath the ground

Bones beneath the ocean

Bones beneath the sound

You can hear the voices calling

Begging to be received

Calling out for a rescue

Wanting to be believed

Touching our bones

Calling us home

Touching our bones

Calling us home

The show is performed in the round, allowing visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves not only in the dirt, but also in every aspect of the performance. “The Elementals: Earth” is a production that touches every one of our senses.

With the purpose of inspiring us to “join together to preserve and protect the environment and to create a more sustainable society”, the production shares the stories of our shared home. “Earth” does more than remind of us the sanctity of our environment; it evokes the sanctity of our union. It brings us back to the past times that kept us rooted in our shared glory for so many centuries. Through storytelling, song, dance, and dirt, “The Elementals: Earth” brought us to our sense once more.