Transcultural Collaborations

“Still Life With Chickens:” New Samoan Play Confronts Loneliness Through Comedy

Samoan playwright David Fa’auliuli Mamea’s Still Life With Chickens won the 2017 Adam Award for Best New Zealand Play and now, its stylish premiere production is touring the country. It concerns Mama, an elderly Samoan woman who befriends a stray chicken. While the premise seems slight, and the production is light and humorous, the script digs deeply into an issue not often explored in New Zealand theatre, loneliness among the elderly. Loneliness has become a major health issue internationally, with British Prime Minister Theresa May appointing a Minster for Loneliness in January 2018 in response to a report that...

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Birthing A Country: “Womb Of Fire”

The provocative one-hander Womb Of Fire by The Mothertongue Project recently had a three-week run at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre. The play won prizes at the Stellenbosch Woordfees for Best Actor (Rehane Abrahams), Best Director (Sara Matchett) and Best Play (Womb Of Fire). The Mothertongue Project started when Abrahams and Matchett came together over a cup of chai in a Mumbai kitchen in 1999. Actress/writer Rehane Abrahams persuaded Dr. Sara Matchett to direct a piece she was writing. She described the work as seminal and that it would mark a transition into a new way of being for her. Back in...

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Interview With Sergio Blanco: “A Creator Must Know The Times In Which He Lives”

The acclaimed Franco-Uruguayan playwright Sergio Blanco was in Madrid to stage his play Ostia at the Pavón Kamikaze Theatre while Thebes Land, another of his plays, continues its run, directed by Natalia Menéndez. My year of theatre ends with Blanco. With Sergio Blanco. Fade to white, like the life of Roland Barthes, who was run over by a laundry van (he had a death worthy of himself, “a semiotic death,” says Sergio). Pasolini also had a death worthy of himself, violent, exaggerated, though lacking in humanity, says Sergio, the humanity that impregnates the entire body of work of the...

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“Possession:” Music And Movement Dominate Performance On Hermits, Deserts And Demons

Possession was performed twice during D-Caf festival, and is directed by Tom Bailey. English director Tom Bailey worked with Egyptian actors from El-Warsha troupe to create Possession, a performance based on the experiences and writings of Egyptian Desert Hermits from the third century, blending choreography, music, dance, and poetry. The play was performed twice at Studio Nasibian Theatre as part of the D-Caf festival, which concluded on March 29. The subject came to Bailey’s attention through the work of French author Gustave Flaubert, who in 1874 published a book about St. Anthony, an Egyptian hermit of the 3rd and 4th...

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A Genre-Bending Pasifika Collaboration -“The Naked Samoans Do Magic”

The Naked Samoans Do Magic Commissioned by the Auckland Arts Festival and co-produced with The Conch. Directed by Nina Nawalowalo and Tom McCrory. The Naked Samoans Do Magic is a unique collaboration between two iconic yet highly contrasting Pasifika theatre companies. The Naked Samoans formed in 1998 and after a string of highly popular sketch-comedy stage shows, their animated series Bro’Town (2003-6) became New Zealand’s most successful television comedy. The Conch launched in 2002 with the critically acclaimed Vula, a stunningly beautiful devised piece that established Artistic Director Nina Nawalwalo’s expertise in composing elegant stage imagery based in her...

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World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018: Reaching Out To The World Through Theatre

World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018 Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will hold its annual World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018 from April 28 to May 6, coinciding as usual with the national Golden Week holiday. In line with its slogan of “Fujinokuni (The Mt. Fuji region) and the world are connected through the performing arts,” SPAC will introduce a wide range of cutting-edge theatre programs from Japan and abroad at venues in Shizuoka City and the surrounding, wonderfully scenic area. Following on last year’s success, SPAC will also host its Open-air Performing Arts Festival under Mt. Fuji 2018 in the...

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Global Shakespeare

Voodoo Macbeth? Heir apparent of the Denmark Corporation in Manhattan? A pair of star-crossed lovers from feuding families selling chicken rice in Singapore? In the past century, stage, film, and television adaptations of Shakespeare have emerged in the UK, US, Canada, and the performance cultures of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and far-flung corners of the globe. Shakespeare’s plays often feature locations outside England, Scotland, and Wales, and characters from various parts of the world. In fact, the history of global performance dates back to Shakespeare’s lifetime. Since the sixteenth...

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The Perks Of Bringing In New People In The Theatre Repertory

Casting actors from outside the repertory means new energy and new audiences. Last week, I watched a play set in Portugal, produced by a group from Pune, in which the protagonist was played by an actor from Jaipur. A few years ago I directed a play set in Baghdad and London, in which a few Iraqi insurgents were portrayed by actors from Bulandshahr, Cuttack, and Pune. One of the nicest plays I have seen about Kashmir was directed by a Bengali and featured an actor from Bengaluru. We ourselves have often cast actors from Pune and Bengaluru. Increasing diversity And...

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Force And Fragility Meet And Merge In “Dunas”

There are mutual squeals of delight when Belgian dance artist, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Spanish flamenco dancer, Maria Pages are reunited after “far too long” at a Tokyo rehearsal studio. Pages, 54, has flown in from Madrid to promote the pair’s 2009 work Dunas (Dunes), which sees its Japan premiere this month at the Orchard Hall in Shibuya Ward—just down the road from the studio we are all sitting in. Cherkaoui, 42, is in Tokyo to direct an all-Japanese cast in a run of his play Pluto, based on the Naoki Urasawa manga of the same name—though by the look...

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“Kumar50”: The Star of the Singapore Drag Scene

Marking Kumar’s 50th year alive, and the start of Dream Academy’s 2018 season at the Capitol Theatre, Kumar50 is a celebration, a retelling of history, but most of all, a show meant to entertain — Kumar is the undisputed queen, and star, of the Singapore drag scene. Kumar50 is also here to make some money: Dream Academy is, notably, one of the very few arts companies in Singapore that runs on a for-profit model. This is not, by far, the first time the two entities have worked together. Kumar50 is the fifth show (eighth if you include re-runs) headlining...

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How Can We Transform The World Through One’s Self? Amsterdam’s Butoh Festival

In Waves: Transforming The World Through One’s Self At Amsterdam’s Butoh Festival In order to radically change the world, firstly you must make a change within yourself. The expressive check-in with one’s own self, or as Jean-Luc Nancy would interpret, the “return to self,” is a rampant theme for those who engage with their own bodies. I understand that performative events such as dance to resonate this notion. It’s also this notion that will be focused on during the Butoh Festival in Amsterdam’s Teatro Munganga this weekend. But even the term “Butoh” turbulates some issues. When I sat down to...

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“Y Tad” – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (A Welsh Translation of Florian Zeller’s “The Father”)

Terry Eagleton reminds us that in order for tragedy to occur, then the protagonist must be in search of their own complete individual identity of freedom [1]. That freedom, as I understand it, comes in multiple forms. Usually, if we begin in the Aristotelian sense, the harmatia (or, the tragic “flaw”) is that the character cannot be in control of the desired fate that (in ancient terms) the gods have set for them. In the case of Y Tad, that fate is out of the hands of Arwyn, the central protagonist of this story. As previously mentioned in my...

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Changing The Landscape Of Puppetry Theatre In Poland: Jakub Krofta And The Wrocław Puppet Theatre

Jakub Krofta is currently the Artistic Director of the Wrocław Puppet Theatre (Wrocławski Teatr Lalek/WTL). Krofta like some other Czech puppetry practitioners working in Poland was invited to Poland by the Lalka Theatre in Warsaw. He came in 2006 to stage Josef Kainar’s Goldilocks (Zlatovláska) as an already experienced director. His career began in 1993, when, as a student of the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), he directed the Spoon River Anthology (Spoonriverská Antologie) for the Dejvice Theatre in Prague. The production was based on the collection of poems by E. L. Masters, under the...

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The Art Of Ageing Theatre Project

A first glance at the website for “The Art of Ageing” theatre project may lead you to conclude that this is another alarmist “gray tsunami” reaction to the aging of the world’s population. The bullet points on the home page include “Shrinking young generation,” “An additional 24 million people will live in Europe by 2040,” and “By 2060, 65-year and older people will make up 42% of the entire EU population,” followed by “What do we do?” However, rather than taking the common ageist approach, these theatre practitioners responded to issues of aging with innovative, collaborative work. Although it...

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“I Feel As If I’m Loosing My Leaves:” Translatability Of Theme Through Language In Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Production Of Florian Zeller’s “Y Tad”

The universality of Florian Zeller’s undiminished modern masterpiece The Father has ceased to lose its translatability to a wider global audience. There aren’t many plays in the contemporary repertoire which have gauged the same excitement and fascination by audiences, scholars and theatre-makers alike. Here in September, the premiere of a recent Dutch translation by Jolijn Tevel reached the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein[i]. This month, Wales’ flagship Welsh language theatre company Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru will be the first company in Wales to present the inaugural Welsh translation by Geraint Løvgreen. The Play. The Father, premiered in Paris in 2015 (entitled Le...

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Satoshi Miyagi Returns To The Japan Society With “Mugen Noh Othello”

New York City’s Japan Society closed out its 2017-18 Noh-Now series this past January with renowned director Satoshi Miyagi’s Mugen Noh Othello. I was fortunate to see this compelling noh-inspired piece, remounted by Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), where Miyagi has served as the Artistic Director since 2007. Shifting focus from the Moor of Shakespeare’s tragedy to that of his ill-fated and “un-notable” wife, Desdemona, Mugen Noh Othello presents an innovative reimagining that keenly considers the tale from the point of view of Othello’s victims. Mugen Noh Othello is the third time Miyagi’s work has appeared at the Japan...

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An Interview With Christine Lamborn: Western Actor’s Perspective On ”Kyogen”

The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) is internationally recognized as the best university-based center for the study and practice of Asian performance (outside of Asia), offering a wide-ranging Asian theatre curriculum: theory and history courses, voice and movement courses—delving into the intricacies of jingju, kabuki, kyogen, noh, randai, and wayang kulit.    Each year, students have the opportunity to undergo intensive, year-long training in a traditional Asian theatre form with renowned practitioners who have spent their lives mastering the form. This arduous training—immersing students in the history and culture surrounding the art form, as well as the theatrical praxis—culminates in an English-language production of a traditional play.  For...

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Casting In Multiethnic And Multiracial Context: Changing Perspectives

Though I never met my great-grandfather, I was told he was fond of saying “Lucky we come Hawaii.”  It’s not the beautiful weather, access to a savory and delectable variety of foods, nor even our verdant majestic mountains and luxuriant sandy beaches which makes Hawaii truly special.  People like to say New York is the melting pot—but I would beg to differ: New York is a salad bar (there are many different ethnicities, but they’re mostly segregated in one area—the Italian district, little India, Hispanic, Chinatown, and so forth.)  Hawaii is truly a stew. In Hawaii, unlike anywhere else in the world, there is no majority of one ethnicity; we all...

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The Fusion Dance and Theatre: What’s Required in Successful Intercultural Collaboration

Australian theatre-person and actor Trevor Jamieson on finding parallels between Indian and Aboriginal cultures, with an aim to create a dance performance drawn from the similarities. Trevor Jamieson could well pass off for a native, with his swarthy features, his wild and bushy grey beard, and summer casual attire of a vest and harem pants, with a ratty pair of flipflops, to complement the look. Until you hear that distinct Australian twang, that is. “When I’m out on the road here in the city, people automatically think I’m Indian. They talk to me in Tamil/Malayalam and they’re quite taken...

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Russian Theatre On Screen: Yury Butusov’s “The Seagull”

Yury Butusov’s The Seagull is an exuberant feast of a theatrical performance. In the nearly four-hour long filmed staging, the actors seemingly never stop moving: they dance, toss objects across the stage, swing from ropes hanging from the ceiling, scream, gyrate, crawl on the ground. The stage is an electric whirlwind of energy: abrasive, frenetic, chaotic, enticing. As the first production of the second season of the cinematic series Stage Russia HD, this play was filmed on the stage of Moscow’s Satirikon Theatre so that it could be brought to audiences in the West (this season includes screenings in...

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