DHAHRAN: Adam Savage, MythBusters’ host and special effects master, was a guest speaker at Tanween on Friday, and his talk on telling stories through objects and the obsession required to tell these stories inspired an audience of all ages.
As a child, Savage said he struggled to communicate with his peers and sought refuge in inanimate objects and costumes, designing and recreating things he loved as a form of storytelling — the child in almost every adult present could relate to that.
While taking the audience down his creative memory lane, Savage presented some of his memorable projects, such as creating NASA spacesuits from scratch; the most lasting impression was his venture to make a model of The Overlook Hotel’s maze in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
After innumerable hours of obsessive research, Savage managed to complete the maze: one so exquisite it replaced the one on display as part of Stanley Kubrick’s traveling exhibition.
“It turns out that all I’ve ever been doing is telling stories — it is one of the single pleasures of my life,” he concluded, eliciting massive applause.
Speaking to Arab News before the talk, Savage explored the idea of visiting a country like Saudi Arabia. “A few years ago I was able to do a series of performances in Abu Dhabi, and it was my first time to the Middle East. As an American, the Middle East is not a place that I’d normally travel: it’s not part of an American’s idea of where you should go. And yet, I find the whole region incredibly fascinating, and to come here and visit a culture that I’m unfamiliar with, and meet such lovely people: it widens the eyes. American writer Mark Twain was famous for saying: ‘Travel is toxic to bigotry,’ and I totally agree. I relish the opportunity to go far and wide and come to a place I don’t know.”
The creative guru also spoke about the importance of events like Tanween. “I think these events signify bringing people together from different places to hear each other. I go to a lot of conferences, and my favorite thing about them is listening to other viewpoints and opinions and ideas, but another part of it is meeting the people there.
“I have made so many deep friendships in places I did not expect, and that happens for all people attending. There are these collisions and the more people interact with each other, I think the better it is, in general, for all people,” he added.
Savage’s most recent work with 12-16 year-olds for the new show “MythBusters Jr.” is “the most creatively satisfying thing” he’s ever done.
He said his creativity stems from his exploration of everything that is challenging, and that was the advice he had for Saudi youth. “I think for a young creator, it’s really important to move towards the things that you find challenging, to listen to opinions you don’t understand, to unpack the things that confuse you and confound you. Staying comfortable - it’s not good for you.”
He appreciated how deeply invested Saudi Arabia is in arts, and described some of the artwork coming out of the region as “exciting, challenging and complicated.”
His stay in the Kingdom was a short-lived 26 hours, but he confessed to wanting to visit again and explore the country.