All posts tagged STAGE REVIEW

Dualities emerge

Published ธันวาคม 27, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


'Suwana Sama - The Faithful Son', is the fourth Installation in Somtow's 10-cycle opera 'Das-Jati'. Photo/Siam Opera

‘Suwana Sama – The Faithful Son’, is the fourth Installation in Somtow’s 10-cycle opera ‘Das-Jati’. Photo/Siam Opera

'Suwana Sama - The Faithful Son', is the fourth Installation in Somtow's 10-cycle opera 'Das-Jati'. Photo/Siam Opera

‘Suwana Sama – The Faithful Son’, is the fourth Installation in Somtow’s 10-cycle opera ‘Das-Jati’. Photo/Siam Opera


Somtow Sucharitkul’s epic Buddhist “challenge to Wagner” creates a buzz, but “Das-Jati” is shaping up to be quite different

AS OPERA FANS around the world are learning, Somtow Sucharitkul is composing a cycle of 10 operas based on the final incarnations of the Buddha.

The story of those lives is known in Thai as the Tosachat. Somtow uses the Sanskrit transliteration “Das-Jati”, which causes a momentary dissonance for Thai readers but makes the title more comprehensible to Buddhists elsewhere in the world, both Mahayana and Theravada.

In “Suwana Sama – The Faithful Son”, the fourth instalment presented earlier this month at the Suryadhep Music Sala – the magnificent new theatre in Rangsit – Somtow inched a little closer to challenging the world domination of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”.

Although “Das-Jati” and “The Ring” have the same, almost hubristic vision in common, there’s very little in common between them. The latter plays out over huge spans of time – literally – with a 30-minute love duet in “Siegfried” and a 20-minute suicide aria in “Gotterdammerung”. To enjoy “The Ring”, you really have to set the whole world aside and get into “religious experience” mode.

Although the subject matter of “Das-Jati” is religious, its component episodes are created much more for today’s shorter attention spans. Like the three previous offerings, “Suwana Sama” squeezes complex storytelling, philosophy and characterisation into much smaller packages.

The plot is less spectacular than the three already produced. It’s an intimate family drama, mostly set in the sacred forest of Himavant, whose non-singing inhabitants – the Kinnaree, Garuda and other magical creatures – are played by dancers, their movements intricately choreographed by Puwarate Wongatichat.

Though smaller in scale, this work is in some ways the most emotionally affecting thus far.

Inventively scored for two small chamber orchestras, one on either side of the conductor, the opera is of a piece with the exotic, multihued “Das-Jati” world. It is equal parts Indian, Thai, Balinese and neo-romantic. With the odd sprinkle of atonality, it has a sound that Somtow has made uniquely his own, instantly recognisable among modern composers.

A statue of a yakkhini named Bahusodari dominated the set. At the show’s climax, the statue came to life and sang a sensational aria. Houston-based soprano Cassandra Black, as the statue, remained motionless for 70 minutes, so that the audience had pretty much accepted her as part of the set, and her coming to life produced audible gasps. It was an idea more effective than any hi-tech gimmick and Black carried it off to perfection.

The effective performances of Damien Whitely as both the good king and the evil king, of Kaleigh Rae Gamache as both the messenger of the gods and the very lusty Queen of Kashi, brought home the point that the opera is about opposites.

It is in fact two orchestras. The plot concerns the citizens of two villages who seek to become one, and are thwarted when their two beloved scions refuse to be married because they’ve taken a vow of perpetual chastity.

It’s two worlds as well. There are the brash city-dwellers of Kashi, with their eccentric king, and the peaceful magical forest, fuelling a confrontation between man and nature that somehow echoes contemporary environmental concerns (not to mention making an oblique reference to Bambi with a scene of a wounded stag).

Heaven and earth, life and death – it’s an opera that plays with dualities, and with the ambiguities that make them not so opposite after all.

Somtow recently stated that, of the 10 “Das-Jati” tales, this one is most similar to the Christmas story. “It’s got a virgin birth and an incarnated god who is slain by an unfeeling tyrant and is resurrected through the power of love,” he said. “The hero is shown as an exemplary human being, living a life of gentleness and goodness. In the end, murderers are forgiven and the blind are healed. I don’t know whether the Christmas story travelled east or west, but I don’t think these parallels are accidental.”

The “challenge to Wagner” angle has been good for the international buzz over “Das-Jati”, but the series is shaping up to be something quite different. It has a lighter touch, a bit of whimsy and, when all 10 are staged in 2020, it will apparently, literally, have the proverbial “cast of thousands”. It is no less moving than Wagner – it merely moves at a more contemporary pace!

Stan Gayuski is a member of the International Mahler Society and often writes about classical music for international media.


This bird flies on

Published ธันวาคม 27, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


In Danny Yung's 'One Table Two Chairs', classically tranied artists showed they didn't need to be as rigid in their performances. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

In Danny Yung’s ‘One Table Two Chairs’, classically tranied artists showed they didn’t need to be as rigid in their performances. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Takao Nishimura also took the stage. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Takao Nishimura also took the stage. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Cross-gender artist Kala Krishna of India was among the performances. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Cross-gender artist Kala Krishna of India was among the performances. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Cross-gender artist Didik Nini Thowok from Indonesia was among the performers. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week

Cross-gender artist Didik Nini Thowok from Indonesia was among the performers. Photo courtesy of Toki Arts Week


Toki arts week gets a new name for a new generation

CO-ORGANISED BY Hong Kong’s Zuni Icosahedron, Nanjing’s Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Kun Opera Theatre and Tokyo’s Japan Foundation and hosted by Nanjing Museum in late October, the Toki Arts Week 2015, not only had a new name – it was formerly Toki International Arts Festival – but also a new focus. That change saw it presenting performances, lectures and demonstrations by cross-gender artists Kala Krishna of India, Didik Nini Thowok from Indonesia as well as Japan’s Hikaru Uzawa, which formed a strong link to the local Kunqu master Li Hong Liang.

Notwithstanding the new name, the goals of this international platform, which developed from the Shanghai Expo 2010 when Noh and Kunqu artists collaborated with Hong Kong trailblazer festival curator and artistic director Danny Yung and Japanese director and co-curator Makoto Sato, remain intact. With nine young Kunqu artists at the core, they have been given this rare opportunity to not only learn from artists and masters from other traditions but also experiment and create new works with them.

In Yung’s internationally acclaimed “One Table, Two Chairs” format, they showed how classically trained artists, given the right opportunity, themselves didn’t need to be as rigid as their classical performing arts genre. Out of the seven works presented to the public at the Nanjing Museum Theatre, the most memorable was by Japanese actor and dancer, Makoto Matsushima, Kunqu artist Sun Jing and his Jingju counterpart Gao Yun. With Matsushima, the only one with no classical training, taking the role of the director, the piece played also with the performance space, making it very different from the work by Yung, the man behind this experimental paradigm. A good sign was that the house was filled with many young audience members, mostly female university students who took many photos with their professional cameras and mobile phones and stayed for the post-performance discussion. I didn’t see them as future artists but, more importantly as we seem to have enough artists, as audiences of the future, who want to see Kunqu being preserved and developed at the same time.

The conference on the last two days drew artists and scholars from China, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the US as well as the nine young Kunqu artists. They shared their opinions not only on the festival itself but also on how this cross-cultural and cross-regional platform is working in the preservation and development of intangible cultural heritage. And while many young artists revealed that, outside the Toki Arts Week, the remaining 51 weeks of their professional lives haven’t changed much, they have gained much more confidence in artistic experiments and are looking forward to learn more from this international platform.

Once faced with extinction, this rare bird is now indeed flying – and evidently in the right direction.

Our National Artist Patravadi “Khru Lek” Mejudhon told XP that she had enjoyed her Toki experience.

“It’s been rejuvenating. Before coming here, I felt tired and wanted to quit. I realise, again, how important it is to nurture young artists and to find an international platform for them, and it’s definitely my job as a senior artist. Toki has taught these young Kunqu artists to think forward, based on and yet beyond their cultural heritage background. If we do the same in Thailand, there will be more artistic creations. We have a lot in common with China and Japan, and, come to think of it, what I’ve been doing with classical Thai performing arts was inspired by my American and Japanese teachers, not their Thai counterparts. This kind of international exposure and interactions with artists from different cultures makes us all think more of our own culture.”

Her comment brought to mind Thailand’s Culture Ministry’s booking of the Royal Albert Hall for a presentation of khon, spending our tax money for the sake of preservation and promotion of our national heritage while showing little development. They also plan to have further regional exchanges and presentations of performing arts forms based on “Ramayana”, and to spend more of our tax money.

The writer’s trip was fully supported by Toki Arts Week. He wishes to thank Danny Yung, Carol Woo and Cheuk Cheung for all assistance.


Watch, listen and vote carefully

Published ธันวาคม 27, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Thai version of  Ceci n'est pas la politique by B-Floor Theatre. Photo/Jaa Phantachat_03

Thai version of Ceci n’est pas la politique by B-Floor Theatre. Photo/Jaa Phantachat_03

B-Floor Theatre and Democrazy Studio’s new work reminds us how politics is an integral part of our life.

EARLIER THIS year, Silpathorn artist and co-artistic director of B-Floor Theatre Jarunun “Jaa” Phantachat pushed many social, cultural and political buttons with “Test of Endurance”, including pre-screening audience members and allowing them to pay an admission price based on what they thought the performance was worth.

While the audience doesn’t play such a major role in her latest work “Ceci n’est pas la politique”, they are asked to think, after the performance rather than during it, thus making the two productions comparable.

Watching “Chitra’s Death and the Disappearing Dogs”, a new allegorical play by Sodsai Award winning playwright Pattareeya Puapongsakorn, gives the audience several opportunities to vote on answers to questions both directly and indirectly relevant to the plot, while seeing some performers disappear from the stage as the play proceeds.

Portraying these six relatives, friends and employees of the late millionaire Chitra, all of them murder suspects but with different motives, are B-Floor’s Ornanong Thaisriwong, Dujdao Vadhanapakorn and Sasapin Siriwanij, New Theatre Society’s Parnrut Kritchanchai, Democrazy Studio’s Pavinee Samakkabutr and independent actress Napak Tricharoendej.

Their task isn’t easy as, having rehearsed and memorised the lines of the whole play, they are well aware their actual stage time might be cut short by the audience’s votes and how the production team processes them. Those who remain on the stage then perform with invisible characters and in response to their inaudible lines until the end.

On the opening night last Tuesday, all six actresses looked comfortable in their roles, although their acting styles varied considerably, probably due to the director’s experience in working with text-based performances. Some characters looked more realistic than others and we thus had more empathy for them.

Another commendable aspect is the art direction, which is very simple but truly slick. The floor, three walls, ceiling as well as four stools and air-conditioner are painted blue, the performers’ costumes are also dominantly blue with some white and black, and the computer graphics projected show different floor plans of the scenes and are always in sync with the lighting design.

“Ceci n’est pas la politique” may not be the most entertaining work and some audience members, especially those expecting a more politically straightforward oeuvre from these two politically conscious companies, might leave Democrazy Studio feeling somewhat unfulfilled.

Later though, you cannot help but spend some time thinking carefully about the content of the structurally deconstructed play – which includes a deceased resort owner with peculiar culinary tastes leaving behind a painting worth Bt66 million – and come up with various interpretations dependent on political persuasion.

And while you have fun in the audience participation parts, you also later think back to the questions asked, the answers you chose, how they counted the votes, informed you of the result and took some performers out of the performance then gave you a chance to vote one back in. That makes you feel that you have the power and while you respect the majority of votes, you realise that there’s someone somewhere much more powerful than any of us. In the end, you might realise that you live in a supposedly democratic country where, notwithstanding this information age, there is so little transparency that truth is in the mind of the believer and you may mysteriously disappear. just like any performer in this work.

And thanks to the playwright’s and the director’s subtlety and discretion, theatre remains the least censored form of dramatic arts here.


-“Ceci n’est pas la politique” continues at Democrazy Studio in Soi Saphan Khu, Rama IV road (10-minute walk from MRT Lumphini station, exit 1) from Wednesday to Sunday, 8pm.

– It’s in Thai on Friday and Sunday; in English Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

– Tickets are Bt520 (Bt400 for students; Bt650 for non-participating audience).

– Call (089) 167 4039 or email

– For more details, and “BFloor Theatre Group” at Facebook.

Behold and be astounded

Published ธันวาคม 27, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


BACC’s 4th performative art festive ends with an interdisciplinary physical theater work from Singapore

FANS of local theatre will probably still recall Noor Effendy Ibrahim’s solo performance, “Dancing with The Ghost of My Child” at Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts in early 2013. It earned plenty of praise, with Canberra Critics Circle’s Alanna Maclean describing it as “a deeply mature, moving and challenging piece that played with gender roles and the longing for a child”.

Effendy is now back in town with “Si Ti Kay”, a work that explores gender, power, pleasure and pain issues, among others.

His director’s statement reads, “In the beginning, god created despair, for man to find hope within. I know I have heard someone say this somewhere before sometime back, but I’m not too sure who, when and where. It must have been god herself who had said this through some men. I mean, who else could be that smart to tease men into such futility other than god herself? So there you have it. And here I find myself being teased into my own despair, holding on to too much faith, knowing that hope for me lies deep within. Gingerly, I slide a finger in, resting, probing. Somehow sensing the despair within feels warmer, softer, safer, I slide in another finger, followed by my thumb. But reason suddenly makes me pull both fingers out almost instantaneously, reason that too often leads to greater despair. I am confused. My thumb is still inside.

“The title really has no meaning other than the sounds it makes with ‘Si’, ‘Ti’, and ‘Kay’,” he tells XP.

“However, it’s inspired by a friend and one of the most talented young female actors in Singapore, Siti Khalijah, but who’s known endearingly as Siti K for short. The performance has nothing to do with her in any way. If it were not ‘Si Ti Kay’, then I would’ve borrowed another friend’s name. Maybe for my next work?”

The July 2012 premiere of “Si Ti Kay”-the photos of which are seen here – at the Esplanade Theatre Studio, was a production by Cake Theatrical Productions but was “by invitation only”.

“It was scheduled to be presented for public for three performances or so, but after sitting in on several of the rehearsals, The Esplanade was uncomfortable with several images created by the performers and cautioned that they might be offensive to certain audience members. To cut the story short, The Esplanade wanted the identified images and scenes to be taken out totally or reworked, but Cake Theatrical Productions was able to negotiate instead a one-performance for an invited audience list only with no changes to any parts of the performance,” Effendy explains,

The Flying Inkpot’s Tan Sock Keng critic had this to say about the performance, ”

Four performers engage in a series of unnerving acts. The action takes place initially at a white dining table in a white prop house placed in the centre of the Esplanade’s Theatre Studio, which audience members are encouraged to view from various angles. All the performers are dressed in white – the men in straitjackets and the sole woman in a lacy, full-length bodysuit – though the red lingerie sported by the men under their straitjackets provides a curious contrast.

“Beginning with a peaceful family dinner, the performers start to interact with each other physically in increasingly disturbing ways. For example, while the performers begin the show eating normally, they soon start to eat grains of rice off each other’s fingers while one performer unsettlingly pours milk from a jug into a glass over and over again. Later, the performers dispersed into three corners of the Theatre Studio, engaging in separate acts simultaneously that ranged from wrestling with a piece of cow liver to simulating sex.”

As for this Bangkok run, Effendy says, “I approached BACC in the middle of last year to study possibilities of a Singapore-Thailand artist exchange while I was still the artistic director of The Substation in Singapore.”

And as for why he particularly picked this controversial work when BACC offered a space in the 4th Performative Art Festival, he says, “It’s a work that was denied a larger audience, and I’d always wanted to revisit it when the opportunity presented itself.”

Effendy says there are no major changes from the 2012 production, other than three new artists, a performer, a lighting designer and a sound artist.

The public, with or without “Si Ti Kay” tickets, are also welcome to take part in two artist dialogue sessions, this Saturday afternoon and again the following week. In English and Thai, they are on the topics of, respectively, “Challenges in Creating Art for an International Audience” and “Understanding Collaborative Approaches to Interdisciplinary Art Practice.”

“The two discussions are real opportunities for open dialogue between myself and the ‘Si Ti Kay’ team which consists of multi-disciplinary artists, a few of whom already have international exposure, with the Thai audience,” Effendy explains.

“With these, the aim is to have a better understanding of artistic dialogue within the Southeast Asian region, especially on contemporary theatre/performance.”

And as another Flying Inkpot critic Kenneth Kwok wrote, “It [‘Si Ti Kay’] punches you in the face and then smacks you around,” I will not miss this bout.

It is what it’s not

Published ธันวาคม 27, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Daloy Dance Company from the Philippines stages the contemporary dance work

Daloy Dance Company from the Philippines stages the contemporary dance work


Thonglor Art Space’s first “Low Fat Art Fest” ends on a medium note

In a year that has seen Bangkok welcome a few new theatres, it’s a small art space converted from a former guesthouse, namely Thonglor Art Space which has been the most prolific. Of course, its prime location, less than five minutes on foot from the BTS station is part of the reason, but, as many theatre operators have realised by now, it’s the software, the keenly curated multi-disciplinary arts programmes all year round, that keeps it alive and thriving.

The recently ended inaugural edition of the “Low Fat Art Fest” provided irrefutable proof of why it’s not called a theatre, a performing arts centre or a centre for dramatic arts. In this day and age when both artists and audiences cross genres, it’s much better to keep options open.

Curated by Wasurachata Unaprom, the month-long festival – the first two weeks of which were also part of the Bangkok Theatre Festival – included stage performances from Japan, Korea, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand – also at Pridi Banomyong Institute and Creative Industries – in addition to film screenings, a photo exhibition and post-film and post-show discussion sessions, all of which drew considerable number of audiences. Interestingly, the festival received a great deal of support from foreign cultural institutes and embassies, but none from our Ministry of Culture.

The last weekend of the festival presented on the third floor “La vie en rose”, a black light photo exhibition by Mattanin Voramala who asked the viewers to perceive how different her photos and writings on them looked and felt in different sources of light. On the opposite side of the room was a row of chairs with one pillow, perhaps asking the viewers to linger and see how that perception would change.

Two storeys down was the stage for Daloy Dance Company’s contemporary dance work “Dysmorphilia”. Young Filipino artistic director and choreographer Ea Torrado, who was also part of this skilful four-dancer ensemble, wanted to ask her audience to reconsider how we perceive bodies that do not exactly fit the norm.

Reading her statement made me think of a plastic surgeon friend who specialises in correcting physical disorders but draws the line at cosmetic surgery.

Sadly though, while young Torrado’s extreme deconstruction and reconstruction of the bodies and her focus on sexual organs was hilarious at first and a turn-off when repeated, they looked so non human and sci-fi like that any empathy was lost.

Thai filmmaker Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s video work was part of the performance but it was evident that the Thai and Filipino artists needed to spend more time together as the connection between the moving images and the moving bodies was not yet in specific synchronisation.

And perhaps I spent too much time at Mattanin’s exhibition, I could only find a seat towards the side and the image I watched wasn’t as neat as the photos here.


<“Cassette Tapes Night Party”, in which you can listen to your favourite songs from cassettes and watch movies from VHS tapes, is on December 19, from 4 to 10pm at Thonglor Art Space.

For more information, check out the “ThonglorArtSpace” page on Facebook.


The dancing, singing ‘Faithful Son’

Published ธันวาคม 26, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


SP somtow’s latest extract from the ten lives of the Buddha takes the form of an opera-ballet this weekend

“THE FAITHFUL SON”, the latest instalment in Somtow Sucharitkul‘s epic 10-part classical-music drama series “The Ten Lives of the Buddha”, opens on Saturday – His Majesty the King’s birthday.

To be presented at the Suryadhep Music Sala, the new state-of-the-art theatre in Rangsit, it’s another episode from the Jataka tales so beloved among Buddhists all around the world.

This moving story of devotion and redemption is set in the Himavant, the magical forest, and has talking statues, giant poisonous serpents, gods and demons – and a mysterious child whose skin is pure gold.

When the series is completed, it will be the largest work in classical music, providing a challenge to Richard Wagner’s masterpiece, the Ring cycle. Opera Siam has been presenting the operas at the rate of one or two a year and the entire cycle will be performed at the first “Lives of the Buddha” festival in 2020.

Each of the Ten Lives is scored for a different instrumental combination and features an eclectic and popular mix of styles and liberal amounts of dance, each finding a different balance between opera, ballet and drama.

“The Faithful Son” stars Cassandra Black, whose recent performance in “Tosca” in the US city of Milwaukee was a sensation, as the Buddha’s guardian yakkini. The Zurich Opera’s Damian Whiteley plays King Piliyakka, the mad collector who bursts into the magical forest in a deranged quest for venison and trophies. Thailand’s leading countertenor, Jak Cholvijarn, reprises his role as the Bodhisattva.

The choreography is by Puwarate Wongatichat, who designed Somtow’s ballet “Suriyothai”, which was the most heavily attended classical-music event ever held at the Thailand Cultural Centre.

The design work is by Dean Shibuya, San Francisco designer behind “Reya: The Musical”, and the material for the costumes is specially created by leading fabric company Pasaya.

Trisdee na Patalung conducts two orchestras in this opera-ballet, which Somtow has scored for two simultaneous chamber orchestras, one on either side of the conductor. Reviews for Somtow’s series have been enthusiastic, with words like “amazing” and “timeless” frequently appearing.

Marriage of two souls

Published ธันวาคม 26, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



The Korean-Thai production “Something Missing” wins two awards at the Bangkok Theatre Festival

THANKS TO THE support of Korean Cultural Centre and the Korea Arts Management Service’s Travelling Korean Arts programme, South Korean physical theatre company Theatre Mommgol was able to spend more than three weeks in Bangkok recently to collaborate with its Thai counterparts B-Floor on a new work.

The result of that collaboration, “Something Missing”, was performed three times at Thong Lor Art Space, as part of the venue’s inaugural edition of Low Fat Art Fest as well as at the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2015.

From start to finish of this riveting 50-minute performance, the first floor space was designed and fully used in such a creative way that it looked like a new venue, a feat down to Korean director’s Jong Yeon Yoon talent for and experience in creating site-specific performances.

Performers Jeoung Eun Kim, Min Ki and Jee Hyun Nho blended with two Thai counterparts into one united ensemble, just as if they belonged to the same company. In addition, the fact that Jong and his Thai counterpart Teerawat Mulvilai have strong social and political awareness was evident in this work from two democratic countries with a recent history of dictatorship and political protests.

An audience member, who also watched Teerawat’s “Mano Land” last month, wondered if it were possible for Teerawat to create works that had nothing to do with politics.

My feeling is that in this kind of political situation, that is probably not an option.

Much credit is also due to independent producer Suna Choe, the matchmaker for this happy marriage. For Suna, who spent two years working for Korean Cultural Centre, this project will probably signal more Korean-Thai collaboration in the future.

Sound designer Kamonpat Pimsarn, recently acclaimed for his work in B-Floor’s “Mano Land”, continued to amaze with his skills and creativity. It’s astonishing how much he can do with his guitar, without ever upstaging the performers.

Deservingly, members of the Thailand centre of International Association of Theatre Critics gave two Bangkok Theatre Festival awards to “Something Missing” – best movement-based performance and best art direction. What’s still missing in this memorable work is the artistic presence of Teerawat, who had to miss the last phase of collaboration due to another overseas work and hence his particular style of physical movements was noticeably absent. However, after the Bangkok Theatre Festival, Teerawat joined the team in another phase of research and collaboration in Seoul last week, and presumably the collaboration is now in balance. That said, let’s hope that this project receives more support, especially from the Thai government, and continues.


– Wrapping up the first Low Fat Art Fest, the Philippines’ Daloy Dance Company presents “Dysmorphilia” – its collaboration with Thai visual artist Chulayarnnon Siriphol – at Thong Lor Art Space from tomorrow to Sunday at 8pm. Tickets are Bt550 (Bt450 for students). Call (095) 924 4555 or (095_ 542 4555.

– The black-light photo exhibition “La vie en rose” is ongoing Thong Lor Art Space as part of the French Embassy’s Galleries Night Bangkok.

– For more details, check


The known and the unknown

Published ธันวาคม 26, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Rianto is trained in traditional Javanese dance as well as lengger, a traditional erotic dance. Photo/Choy Ka-Fai

Rianto is trained in traditional Javanese dance as well as lengger, a traditional erotic dance. Photo/Choy Ka-Fai

Surjit Nongmeikapis trained in traditional Indian dance and martial arts. Photo/Choy Ka-Fai

Surjit Nongmeikapis trained in traditional Indian dance and martial arts. Photo/Choy Ka-Fai

Shanghai dancer Xiao Ke and Zi Han. Photo/Berni Ng

Shanghai dancer Xiao Ke and Zi Han. Photo/Berni Ng

Osaka's Yuya Tsukahara, founder of Contact Gonzo. Photo/Bernie Ng

Osaka’s Yuya Tsukahara, founder of Contact Gonzo. Photo/Bernie Ng


Different Asian styles are explored and investigated in Singapore’s da:ns festival

NOW 10 YEARS young, the Esplanade’s dan:s festival’s residency programme, which provides ample time, space and budgetary support for artists to create new work, has kickstarted many performances and projects, among them Pichet Klunchun Dance Company’s “Black and White”, still on tour after premiering at the event in 2011.

This year, Singapore-born Germany-based multidisciplinary artist Choy Ka-Fai presented the two-part documentary performance series “Softmachine”, focusing on five artists from four countries and based on his research into contemporary dance in Asia, which has seen him interview 88 choreographers, dancers and curators since 2012.

In Part A, Choy worked with Manipur’s Surjit Nongmeikapam, a contemporary dancer trained in traditional Indian dance and martial arts, and Banyumas’s Rianto, a lengger (traditional erotic dance) performer and traditional Javanese dancer.

In Part B, “Softmachine” featured Shanghai’s contemporary dancers Xiao Ke and Zi Han and Osaka’s Yuya Tsukahara, founder of the internationally acclaimed group Contact Gonzo.

Given substantial time and space, with video interviews and performance excerpts on screen in addition to monologues, dialogues and live performance on the stage of Esplanade Theatre Studio, each of the four sections was presented differently. Each artist was able to explain, verbally and physically, his/her background, and the ideology behind as well as the restrictions faced in their work. Choy’s participation in each presentation was also varied. For example, he operated the videos from his table in Xiao’s and Zi’s presentation and performed in the physically demanding work by Tsukahara, where he injured himself, fortunately only slightly.

In the process, Choy, as well as the audience, came to know and understood the artists and their works and what they’re interested in and working on now. I’m also sure that all of the artists have learned how to articulate their thoughts and present their works precisely to an international audience.

In fact, it’s not only about the artists and their works. In Nongmeikapam’s section, his dialogue with Choy on how to create the so-called contemporary Indian dance or how to mix various aspects of Indian culture in order to attract European festival curators also offered a sharp criticism of the European perception of Asian performing arts. For their part, Xiao and Zi proved how difficult it is to work in a genre that’s known for its artistic freedom in a country that’s not known for freedom of speech.

Of course, while each artist and his/her work is representative of contemporary dance practices in their countries, none officially represents the country. And that reminds us that we need to look carefully at and explore the specific context in which each artist works in order to understand what contemporary dance actually means in this culturally diverse and complex region. It is also evident that anyone taking on an intercultural practice, especially a pan-Asia activity, needs to act cautiously.

The World Dance Alliance’s (WDA) Asia Pacific section also held its regional conference in Singapore at the same time as dan:s, and the Alliance’s one-off “Asia Pacific Dance Bridge” concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio formed part of the dan:s festival’s programme. Obviously, the conference participants enjoyed it more than the festival goers.

With companies and performers from Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada, the 75-minute performance offered a glimpse into works by lesser-known choreographers. Put together in a programme that had little curatorial input, it was difficult for the general audience to shift its perceptions, not least because each piece lasted for less than 10 minutes. And while the skills of most the performers merited praise, the choreography typically focused on the beauty of the movements rather than posing questions to the audience. And again, although the programme illustrated the diversity of contemporary dance in this region, one can only wonder if the gap between dance scholarship and dance practice here is as wide as in other fields of performing arts.


– T.H.E. (The Human Experience) Dance Company’s “M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival” continues until December 13.

– In addition to performances, there are workshops and masterclasses. Find out more at


Harmony in the mix

Published ธันวาคม 26, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


photo courtesy of Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project

photo courtesy of Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project

Thai, Malaysia, and Japanese performers to perform an Indian Epic in Bangkok

AFTER 30 YEARS of representing Japan all over the world – including a memorable performance of “Three Sisters” at the Patravadi Theatre – theatre company Papa Tarahamura disbanded in 2012. Its founder, Hiroshi Koike, was quick to set up a new company, and over the past couple of years the Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project’s “The Milky Way Train” and “The Restaurant of Many Orders” have been delighting audiences in different countries.

The company, which aims to educate people who can “think through their body” and create a bridge between cultures as an art project, also has a long term project “Mahabharata”. The first chapter, featuring performers from Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, was seen in Phnom Penh and Hanoi in 2013. Created in Kerala, India, “Chapter 2” featured performers from India, Malaysia, Thailand [northern Thai dancer Waewdao Sirisook], Indonesia and Japan and premiered at the International Theatre Festival of Kerala, before touring to Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta this January.

Now Chapter 2.5 – a reworking of the second chapter – is coming to Bangkok next week and one of the stars is Sunon Wachirawarakarn, a veteran of Pichet Klunchun Dance Company.

“Audiences in India and Indonesia were particularly enthusiastic, because in these countries everybody knows the ‘Mahabharata story’ and so is so familiar with the characters. In other cities, the audience understood it through the performers’ expression and physical movements.” Koike says.

“I’ve been interested in ‘Mahabharata’ for a long time. However, after the big disaster in Fukushima, I started to reconsider ‘Mahabharata’ again. This story has a lot of human wisdom and I wanted to consider what human beings are.”

Earlier this year, Koike held an audition at Democrazy Theatre Studio and had no hesitation in picking Sunon to join “Mahabharata Chapter 2.5″.

Because of budget problems, we couldn’t do ‘Chapter 3’, so ‘Chapter 2.5’ is a rework of ‘Chapter 2′ but with many changes. Japanese dancers replace Indian ones and another dancer and a percussionist are added and several new scenes are made,” he explains.

A recipient of Asian Cultural Council fellowship, Sunon’s solo performance “Home” won him best performance by a male artist award by International Association of Theatre Critics’ Thailand Centre in 2012.

Koike notes, “He’s a great performer who can deliver his lines and dance very well.”

With support from Japan Foundation Bangkok, Sunon has been living and rehearsing in Tokyo since last month, and says he’s enjoying the experience.

“With Pichet Klunchun Dance Company, I performed twice in Japan, but this is a totally new experience, not only rehearsing in this work but also living, travelling and of course eating various kinds of Japanese food for 40 days. And of course I can’t speak Japanese,” he laughs.

“This chapter has nine performers – seven Japanese, one Malay and myself – who portray more than 20 characters. With the change of masks and costumes, every one of us is doing multiple roles. I personally have five roles.

“The use of Indonesian masks has also been a learning experience for me. I’m more familiar with khon [classical Thai masked dance theatre] masks. With the different position of the holes for the performers’ eyes, I’ve needed to adjust.”

As a physical theatre work, “Mahabharata Chapter 2.5” has both dialogue and movements. But, says Sunon, this is not a problem for the audience. “I’m speaking Thai, the Malay performer Mandarin but there will be Thai surtitles when Malay and Japanese performers are speaking. The surtitles will change accordingly when we later perform in Shanghai, Manila and Tokyo. Of course, the multiple languages are a challenge for the cast and crew during the rehearsal.”

“Mahabharata Chapter 2.5” is another project substantially supported by the Japan Foundation’s Asia Centre, which has made possible many intercultural collaboration ad exchange projects in recent years.

Sunon says, “This work has been prepared with various ingredients from different nationalities, languages, cultures, thoughts as well as lifestyles. One performer is keen on western ballet, another one on Balinese dance, another on martial arts and another on acrobatics. We’re now united and telling the battle tales of two families. How deeply can we touch the audience with these characters? Well, you’ll have to experience it with your eyes and with an open mind.”

And with Japanese and Indian music, Indian set design and Indonesian masks, Koike is sure audiences will enjoy the mix.

“Artists from six Asian countries are involved in this production yet those watching the show will find much harmony in this mix of cultures,” he says.


– “Mahabharata Chapter 2.5” makes its world premiere at 7.30pm on Monday and Tuesday at the Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts at Chulalongkorn University. The venue is a 10-minute walk from BTS Siam Exit 6.

– Tickets are Bt600 (Bt300 for students; Bt400 for professional artists and those under 27 years old). Call (02) 218 4802 or (081) 559 7252, or e-mail

– Hiroshi Koike will conduct physical theatre workshops from 1 to 4pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is free. To apply, e-mail

– For more on Koike, check

Crossing boundaries

Published ธันวาคม 26, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



In movement there was ferocity both on an off the stage at Singapore’s dance festival

ESPLANADE – THEATRES on the Bay’s annual da:ns festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last month, and as always, it offered plenty of performances you cannot see elsewhere, not just in Singapore but the region.

Co-produced by the Esplanade with many international dance and theatre festivals and companies, “Torobaka”, a new collaboration by Kathak master Akram Khan and his flamenco counterpart Israel Galvan, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Both traditionally trained artists are known for experimenting with their traditional forms. With both solo and duet parts, the performance was never predictable and the energy always riveting throughout the entire 70 minutes and it was evident that both have found much common ground as well as differences. Although both have high respect for each other’s tradition, they occasionally stepped across the boundary to try movements they have never done before.

Khan is known for his collaboration with artists from different backgrounds, including actress Juliette Binoche; Galvan is quite the opposite and his solo works have garnered international attention. But while it sounds as though the former would easily win this battle; Galvan’s striking stage presence made up for his disadvantage. And after all, this is not a battle; it’s a meeting of two new friends.

And while the audience bought their tickets to watch Khan and Galvan, they were also delighted by the collaboration of the musicians and singers of different traditions.

For the backstage site-specific work “Impulse”, Korean choreographer Kim Jae Duk, creative director of Modern Table Dance Company, worked with dancers of Singapore’s T.H.E. Dance Company.

The result was one of the da:ns festival’s biggest hits, not least because some lucky members of the audience were allowed to go to backstage area of the national performing arts centre, usually off limits for non-artists and non-staff, spending time at loading ramp, a freight elevator and a scene shop.

Kim, who also composed the music, was especially keen and playful in how he used the different spaces, where to place his audience as well as how one scene would lead to another. Lighting consultant Andy Lim also deserved much credit as each selected corner looked like an ordinary workspace yet his lighting turned it into a stage, or a movie set. The local dancers also looked tireless too and willing to take on any challenge in any space Kim gave them.

Some artists have found their signature styles and rely on them to create every new work; others take more risks and engage in collaboration and continue learning and developing with their partners-in-crime.

For us, the audience, we just have to keep our eyes, and very frequently ears, open and then our minds will realise that possibility is almost limitless in contemporary arts.



– The Esplanade’s annual Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts, with traditional and modern dance music and theatre, runs from November 20 to 29.

– For more details,


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