Apocalypse in the Plaza
Under the half-moon evenings of Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of March, a waiting crowd of around a thousand people saw a curious, if not fantastic sight. Accompanied by a driving drumbeat, conch shell and electronic rhythms, the torsos of four people could be seen approaching from the adjacent Plaza de la Paz. The visitors wore bizarre makeup and carried lances, and, across the heads of the assembled onlookers, they appeared to be riding horses. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had arrived.

Only when the actors got closer did the illusion of horses melt away to reveal the horsemen - actually two men and two women - were galloping on stilts. They were accompanied by a woman clashing cymbals. A gateway was opened and the quintet entered the designated space. Then the real show began. The music, which never stopped, changed in tempo. Onlookers were treated to a performance of modern theatre combining original poetry, music, dancing and out-of-this-world costumes.
The horsemen danced ballroom waltzes, marched, galloped and rolled acrobatically, stilts and all, around on the ground. They simulated horse battles, pestilences and lovemaking. They whispered dialogues in English in some parts, in other parts passages in Spanish from the Book of Revelations. Their free show lasted about an hour, and the audience grew appreciably over that time. When it finally finished, the crowd clapped and cheered for a good 5 minutes, children and parents mobbing the actors.

The name of the group is Stalker, and this was only their second ever performance of their new work, Four Riders, an interpretation of the Biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I got talking to David Clarkson, the group's director. Hailing from Sydney, Stalker Theatre Company has been around for 15 years or so, and had parts in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games. They are now regarded as the best in the world in their particular genre, and work their way through a full calendar of 8 months international touring every year. All the members of Stalker said that they were amazed at the friendliness of the people of Cartagena, and impressed by its historic sights. Dave told me that they almost hadn't made it to Colombia, since the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs had faxed them an urgent notice not to come to Colombia two days earlier due to the security risk. But they had already accepted an invitation to attend the Cartagena Cultural Week Festival, and decided to come anyway.

Like so many before them, they discovered that Cartagena rewards those who do come with an unforgettable and friendly ambience unlike any other city in the world.

Photo and story copyright of Glen David Short, a freelance writer based in Cartagena. His new adventure travelogue, `An Odd Odyssey: California to Colombia by bus and boat' has just been published by Trafford Publishing. Posted 24 March 2002

- B A C K -

Text and Photos Copyright 2005 Glen David Short