Lines and frames
Lines and frames are symbols that we often borrow. In the “Tears of Barren Hill” in 2008, John Wong the video designer placed a red line running through the whole performance. It took one minute for the red line to run across the backdrop, with a designed gap cutting the backdrop into two, slashing at the idea of “crossover” and its many possibilities. Once the confines of the frames are defined that allows challenges of the bottomline.
Later, I started to work as a creative coordinator and projection images designer for Danny’s performances. Danny often said that we need to define various frame/frameworks in our experimentations. The frames that created by the video projection is a way to examine the confines of theatre, technology, system, vision and ourselves.
Repetition and Deconstruction/Tradition and Contemporary
From 2009 to 2017, the Flee by Night toured to a dozen of cities, Kunqu maestro KE Jun and his student YANG Yang performed the excerpt from The Story of a Sword again and again. In 2007 and 2008, we went to Nanjing to develop new performances with them, generating a dialogue between traditional training and contemporary forms. Each hand gesture, body movement and costume carries their own stories and history. Strenuous training over the years reminds the question of the practice of passing down the traditions. Either on-stage or off-stage, in or out of the theatre, performance is not merely made for the audience but a journey of sending oneself into a trial of each performer like what YANG Yang did. The stagehand comes on and off the stage actually witnessing everything in a performance and the history of theatre development, as well as the shifts of power play and the positions changed. Wouldn’t it be a reflective monologue by every theatre practitioners as well as Lin Chong in “Flee by Night”.
Space, lighting, and video
In 2010, the “Stage Sisters” directed by Danny, reversed the basic setup of a theatre, letting audience members sit on the stage behind the fire gate. Through this reversed arrangement, the audience auditorium could be seen as a set or a backdrop. A company of Xiqu actresses who spent most of their lives on the stage sat on chairs lined up in a semicircle towards the audience. The space has instantly turned into a character telling its own stories, and a vessel contains countless memories and events. Video as a documentation medium, projection as light source; I tried to make video projection as a light source and making sense out of the fluid shadow created virtually – the shadow of a chair on the stage, the light and shadow of the rows of windows projected when a train passes by, the shadows running into the room through the window captured by the shift of sunshine over the time, the shadow of the hanging bars going up and down above the stage floor.
Idleness on Parade: position and direction
Legend has it, there is nothing more than having people walking and standing on the stage in Danny’s theatre performances. When I watched Danny’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” on a video playback, and later participated in the tenth edition of this series of repertoire in 2011, the term “Mise-en-scene” used in movies and the nonlinear narrative structure combined came to my mind. The performers’ movement vocabulary and sequence are like this: read the palm, finger pointing, hear the ground, walk forward, hand on the chest. There is nothing difficult to understand, positioning oneself, choosing a direction, which is a very important way of thinking that many people forget. A chair is placed on the stage, it can be on the side of the stage, or in the centre; it can be an answer for power, or a killing issue. We looked at the chair, looking at the space of the stage through the roles to be sitting or had sat on the chair, the drastic changes of the characters reminds us of the multi-faceted reality in and out of the stage. Every time I worked with Danny, unpredictably, always like seeing yourself through a mirror at the end.