Program notes for the Realisation Stage of Danny Yung 2018
We have reservations about the education system, because it has lost its focus. We have reservations about the current practice of history-writing, because the science of documentation has lost its focus. Myths from our ancestors serve as a mirror, reflecting the stories hidden in our bodies. At the same time, we observe the culture depicted by the stories in the mirror. Through myths and the mirror, we try to understand ourselves and our relationship with the environment again. We revisit history and discuss what exactly is history and knowledge.
The oldest and most well-known myth in China is Classic of Mountains and Seas, which serves as an adventure map in itself. Yet, the actual adventures are manifested entirely through readers’ involvement and imagination. The later text Flowers in the Mirror narrates a journey that can be viewed as a prototype of Chinese myths. Greek myths, on the other hand, focuses on the love-hate relationships among human, gods and semi-gods, as well as their adventures across different worlds. When we read Greek myths, we are inevitably searching and exploring. We search for characters and episodes we can empathize with. We explore new intellectual and emotional heights inspired by the act of reading
Medusa’s story in Greek mythologies often makes me think. While reading the many versions of Medusa, I started visualizing the writers from different eras who tried to interpret Medusa. I observed their perspectives and story angles. I pondered how their writing process has correlated with their immediate environments. Somehow, this process mirrors the way we create theatrical works – how self-conscious should we be? To project our own perspectives and angles? To engineer a relationship between our immediate environment and our creative process?
In myths, Medusa is a beautiful lady corrupted by men. When her pleadings to the gods were unanswered, she cursed herself into death, and transformed into a monster that turned onlookers into stones. In the end, she was beheaded by a man shielded behind a mirror. The man retained her head as a weapon against his enemies (mostly men), who were all turned into stones.
I wonder if performing artists wish to transform themselves into monsters that turn attentive audiences into stone statues? Perhaps all audiences are “men” to them? Will performing artists be used as weapons to tame hungry cultural consumers into thoughtless stone statues? Or rather, will performers be willingly tamed as weapons? How about the mirror? What role does the mirror play in this narrative? Will the mirror be the only tool left to remind us of our consciousness?
We all care about the development of technology, the drive behind its development, as well as the relationship between its development and institution. We all want to know the development of the arts, the drive behind its development, as well as the relationship between its development and institution. We are curious about the mirror in human’s history – how it was invented, the drive behind its invention, as well as the relationship between its invention and institution. Does the history of art and technological development reflect the relationship between human and its institutions? Why has mirrors keep recurring in our myths? Shall we rely on it to rebuild the interaction between the creative process and the society? Just as theater recurs in our history, should we revisit our understanding of historical narratives? Shall we try to decipher and re-cultivate interaction among artistic creation, technological innovation and social development?
In the experiment lab of mirrors, we are surrounded and intimidated by ourselves at the same time. We are enveloped by our ignorant and evasive selves. In a mirrored laboratory, we see endless dreams, but are also suffocated by the images of ourselves in the dreams. How should we deal with the act of dreaming, horrid dreams, nightmares, lustful dreams and day dreams? In the experimental lab, we see the frames and margins of mirrors, as if we have arrived in heaven, witnessing ourselves playing – playing with the frames, playing with the margins.
About The Interrupted Dream
The Interrupted Dream is about disrupted historical records in a museum. It was first conceptualized by three Asian artists from different performance backgrounds – Shen Yili, seasoned Kunqu lead actress from Shanghai; Didik Nini Thowok, a classical Javanese dancer pioneering in cross-gender performing arts; and Park Hobin, a dancer from Seoul. Together with 11 acrobatic students from Taipei, they create a testing ground for the Hong Kong Belt-Road City-to-City Cultural Exchange. Didik has always been fascinated by the concept of The Peony Pavilion, as well as Kunqu as an art form. A while ago, he translated Shan Po Yang, a song from The Interrupted Dream, The Peony Pavilion into Indonesian, and composed a new melody for it. This work then became the prelude scene of The Interrupted Dream. Set against a museum, The Interrupted Dream imagines the wake of Chinoiserie at the Palace of Versailles in the 16th century. It witnesses the manifestation of a lustful Chinese dream in the French royal court.
About Monkey Business
The stage isn’t a prison nor a cage. The theater is not comparable to a zoo in any way. Monkey Business opens with a cage scene, and finds its origin in the homework of some acrobatics students from the Taiwan Academy of Xiqu. We question whether stage technology is purely about skills? Whether acrobatics is merely a form of performance? Are people in acrobatic trainings reflective on the idea of skills? And is acrobatic education critical of the practice of busking? Was Sun Wukong, the Chinese Monkey King, only trying to mess around while causing a havoc in heavens? How comparable is our mirror-lined stage to the Colosseum? In Monkey Business, what comes first? The actors, the monkey, or the monk? Are they mocking the theater? Or the zoo? This performance is co-created by two performers Chang Yu-chau and Nget Rady, who specializes respectively in embodying the character of the monkey from two different cultural backgrounds. Together with Gordon Lee from Hong Kong, this “cross-cultural monkey show” is meant question the assumptions of the theater and the zoo.