Bangkok Theatre Festival: Day 2

I rounded up yesterday by watching Soulstory’s Evening Primrose Blossom for the Moon. I thought I was going to get to watch Pichet Klunchun’s Black and White too but I had misread the publicity materials. It wasn’t a double bill.

Soulstory is a Japanese dance theatre company invited to take part in the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2013 @ Chula, which I suppose is an offshoot of the festival specific to the shows at Chualalongkorn University.

The program notes didn’t offer much explanation about the piece but this article surmises:

“It’s about reincarnation. In the first scene, or what I refer to as the first petal, a woman in the form of a cabbage butterfly, meets a man, a spider. Later on in another life, they will meet in different bodies. She will change from the cabbage butterfly into a bird, a general, a dancer and finally a flower who will meet the white moon,” says Sakuma Komura, choreographer, director and dancer in the piece.

It was a beautifully executed contemporary ballet piece. As a dance theatre, I found the story a bit hard to follow and at moments the blend between elements of sound, drama, and choreography too obvious, which of course are personal preferences.

That was last night. Day 2 of The Bangkok Theatre Festival

Today started with a triple bill at the Blackbox at Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre (BACC). First up was The Girl Next Door (I’m not exactly sure because the title is in Thai, and there was no English translation in the flyer, got this name from the company’s Facebook page) by New Theatre Society. It was a two-hander, with about two autistic individuals’ courtship. Second was a short but riveting contemporary dance theatre piece by MUPA Company of Arts adapting a classical story of Sita’s encounter with the golden deer (a story in the Mahabharat). Third was an operetta called Land of Smiles.

After that, I met Atsuto and Miho, two theatre makers from Japan. Friend’s of Tua. With Atsuto, I went over to catch B-Floor‘s The Last Gasp of A Mournful Heart.

From the Facebook page:

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B-Floor Theatre presents our last show of 2013, THE LAST GASP OF A MOURNFUL HEART. Co-directed by Nana Dakin (Survival Games, 2013; Damage Joy, 2011) and Vidura Amranand (The Floating Project, 2012), this dance performance, starring four female dancers, will explore the crucial moment of saying goodbye.THE LAST GASP OF A MOURNFUL HEART is a dance performance which brings audiences on a journey through the moments and experiences of holding onto something in the present or the past. Would you rather embrace the pain that comes with holding on, because it feels safer than letting go? Or are you prepared to face the change, and perhaps the emptiness?Feel the moment of letting go together with our performers: Bo Kittiphon, Sasapin Siriwanij, and the two directors who will also be on stage, Nana Dakin, and Vidura Amranand. These four women will share their journeys of saying goodbye through movement in THE LAST GASP OF A MOURNFUL HEART.

After that, we returned to BACC to catch a Likay performance. There were so many other free performances, including two mime works, one by Domino Mime and another by Baby Mime ( I wish Mime Unlimited was still around). There were two outdoor stages, moved from the Stadium to the BACC because of the demonstrations.

Likay was fascinating! The actors and musicians improvise around a form set by tradition with the sole purpose of entertaining people. Tua gave me a bit of a tidbit too: the jewellery used in this performance was actually 100 years old. The craftsman who was known for the style of jewellery have all passed on.

I then ran off to watch Silhouette of God by UTCC, a university theatre troupe. There were no program notes in English and I can’t seem to find online literature on it, so here’s what I think it was about: there’s a sacred tree. Man 1 (sorry, he has a name but I didn’t understand Thai) for some reason wants to chop it down (I think he was angry at something). The village tries to stop him 2 times, the 3rd time he succeeds. He gets possessed/touched by something sacred and becomes a guru of sorts. Man 2 is part of the village and though married, lusts after the wife of another man 3. His wife (wife 2) protests but ends up being abused. Wife 2 goes to seek help from the guru (Man 1), who ends up seducing her. Wife 2 leaves Man 2 to join Man 1’s harem (oh, he’s married too). Man 2 gets drunk and angry, but gives up and continues to lust after wife of Man 3 (Wife 3). Man 3 gets threatened by Man 2 and kills him. Wife 3 gives up and goes join guru’s harem.

I’m sure the story is more nuanced in Thai than this awful summary but these were the story links I was making in my head since there were no subtitles. Oh, there’s this older woman midwife character who’s followed around by two drag queens who don’t say much. I think she’s a catalyst in the plot but her dialogue was lost on me.

Phew, that was a lot of theatre today. That’s what’s freakin’ amazing about the Bangkok Theatre Festival, THERE IS SO MUCH with such a DIVERSE participation from across groups of theatre.

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