Hong Kong Cultural Centre | December 2016
Thomas Ostermeier’s theatrical career began with the radical ‘in-yer-face’ style, staging works by Mark Ravenhill and Sarah Kane with violent intimacy. His recent work with the Schaubühne has gravitated towards more classical texts such as Ibsen and Shakespeare and older patrons are no longer in danger of fainting during performances. It would be all too easy to accuse him (as he once accused older directors) of becoming irrelevant, and to judge Richard III as less radical in the context of his earlier work. I think this would be an unfair interpretation, especially given Ostermeier’s evident self-awareness about the contradictions within institutionalised theatre. His Richard III is politically charged and makes a strong point without making crass direct references to current events. This is as relevant an interpretation of the play as I have seen; perhaps not as viscerally shocking as we might expect, but shocking in the way we are seduced by it.
HK City Hall Theatre (HK Rep International Black Box Festival 2016) | April 2016
Hong Kong Rep’s Black Box Festival kicks off without a hint of irony, presenting a show on City Hall’s proscenium stage: an adaptation of Cocteau’s monodrama, La voix humaine, directed by the internationally renowned Ivo van Hove. It is an enormous privilege to see van Hove’s work presented here in Hong Kong, especially for those in the theatre field (who seemed to comprise the majority of the audience.)
Van Hove’s choice of material appears to echo Cocteau’s own choice in writing the original piece: an attempt to return to the simplicity and purity of a performer in front of an audience. Van Hove mentions in the programme:
West Kowloon Cultural District | February - March 2016
White Rubble on a White Chair
Being among the audience in Ant Hampton’s autoteatro piece Someone Else (Hong Kong Version) was a detached experience. For such a particular theatre form that opens up the boundaries between real and staged experience for the audience, there should be more to take away than a smartphone app.
The term autoteatro consists of the words “auto”(as in “automobile” and “automatic”) and “teatro”(“theatre” in Spanish/Italian etc.). The use of this term to describe this form of theatre first appeared in 2007 under the title Etiquette, created by Ant Hampton and Silvia Mercuriali (Rotozaza). In Hampton’s own words:
HK Rep Black Box Theatre | April 2016
Please sign here for your delivery of an insignificant life
For the Chinese version of this article, please go to IATC.
At the place I work, we get three or four large bottles of drinking water delivered weekly. They get delivered just outside our office’s back door the day after my colleague makes the weekly order. The door isn’t very soundproof, so occasionally I hear the cling-clang of the plastic bottles and cargo lift groaning as they come and go – but never the noise of the delivery guy. There are often express packages delivered to the office too. But again, they remain anonymous to me; even those few faces which keep reoccurring. Goods ordered from a distance need delivering, but consumers only see the objects they buy instead of the hands delivering them, let alone the owner of those pairs of overworked hands. Such a two-way reification in which objects are subjectified while subjects are objectified is the reality depicted in the recent local production Invisible Men, written by Chan Siu Tung and directed by Chan Wing Chuen.
The Barbican | February 2016
It’s been a while since I reviewed for you lot at Postdramatic, so apologies in advance for the rust.
It’s also been a while since I have had something I’m genuinely excited to write about. He Who Falls by Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois has certainly gone some way to restoring my faith in British theatre programming; unsurprisingly this latest treat again comes from across the channel.
First a word about the London International Mime Festival. Offering up circus and physical performance from across Europe, Asia and beyond it is a must if you’re looking for something to inspire you; sometimes you have to take a risk, but chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you’ve missed it this year, get it in your calendar for next!
The Cockpit | London, December 2015
Some reflections on actor training regarding Shakespeare and Cuescript.
For some years The Salon:Collective have been exploring Shakespeare text through scenes without rehearsal, i.e. ‘cue-script’ as a training practice. Led by Lizzie and Dewi Hughes, (the latter also co- running this at Drama Studio) this time round they are attempting the whole Two Gentlemen of Verona, a play about love, lust, friendship, jealousy and favourite plot devices such as characters taking disguise and mistaken identity, and significantly, obscure enough for the cast to have not seen or worked on it before.
June 2015 | Cattle Depot Theatre, Hong Kong
When rationality and man-made order overwhelm our capacity for control…
When connection and information deform into a suffocating sticky web that we can hardly bear…
Every individual collapses into a critical mass of mechanisation and a black hole of desire…
And the outlines that define such “individuals” become only grotesque fluctuations in the system…
Such is the depiction of our modern digitalized society in the mad world of Electronic City (Director’s Cut). In this Falk Richter play, philosophical discussion and allegation appear nakedly, as if some conference on cultural criticism had wandered into the Cattle Depot Theatre. But it is not at all out of place here: the whole play tries to find resonance between these seemingly scholarly and distant ideas and its audience in a Theatre-of-Cruelty exhaustive way, in the hope of distilling its enervating representation of the humming, hustling hubbub of our current digitalized world and pushing it to the extreme.
June, 2015 | Barbican, London (International Beckett Season)
Avant-garde visionary Robert Wilson is a legend in contemporary theatre with grand-scale shows such as Deafman Glance (which brought about Louis Aragon’s change of heart that theatre could indeed be a medium of surrealist art- having officially rejected Antonin Artaud and other theatrical efforts for many years,) Einstein on the Beach (‘Trial-Prison’ Act III Scene 1 track is not unlike Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot,) The Black Rider, Death Destruction and Detroit– the list goes on. Samuel Beckett once saw him perform and found common ground in a post-show conversation, giving Wilson further consolidation in his particular theatrical outlook. Theatrically, Beckett and Wilson draw many similarities, visually to say the least, and it’s only natural that one would note with quiet satisfaction that each of their own ideas compliments those of the other. Beckett acknowledged Wilson as an actor that truly understands how his work should be played, a useful endorsement for any performer. This makes the show highly anticipated – in fact I bought my ticket 8 months in advance and Krapp’s Last Tape is a rich choice for a theatre creator like Wilson (It helps that Wilson has the clout to get himself scheduled into most performance spaces across the world… example: his last trip to London’s Barbican was part of the Duchamp Season in John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, his presence described simply as “passing through town” by a techie working on it.*)
June, 2015 | Barbican, London (International Beckett Season)
Waiting for Godot is a play that’s impossible to label, define or understand and famously (and accurately) described as one in which “nothing happens, twice”* – and it heads the Samuel Beckett Festival at the Barbican. Beckett often spoke out against the need to understand or interpret his work in the face of widespread despair by many a director, actor or critic. I propose that Beckett is more of a performance artist than a playwright in this respect. When you watch these unconventional pieces you are seeing live-art, a happening, staged minimalism, maths, art installation, philosophy, history, a dance; the texts are equal to or more choreographed than spoken. The viewer experiences his work (for wont of a less pretentious line) and often becomes self-conscious and reflective.
July 2015 | Hong Kong Repertory Theatre Black Box
I didn’t expect it to be a comedy…
“Alone” is a beautiful production, which magically and organically transformed the HK Rep Black Box Theatre into a… I was about to say “brain,” because of its impressive spectacle, which was also throbbing with freshness and blood. The two actors were enough to occupy the whole stage with their virtuosity and energy, combined with masterful ease. A bare stage, minimal props; but with the wonderfully executed pacing, the one and half hours’ running time seemed to pass without my noticing.