Martin ChoyChuk Yin ManEllen KongHelen KwokDan Tse
Steve Hui (aka Nerve)
Benny WooThomas Ng Cho Yin
Twinny ChengSing Lo
InlanDimensions International Arts Festival 2022
Asia Does Not Exist
InlanDimensions International Arts Festival has established itself as Central Europe’s largest multidisciplinary festival that rejects a differentiation between Europe and Asia, building bridges between different countries and cultures. Presenting a kaleidoscope of arts ranging from theatre, performance, dance and cinema to music, literature and visual arts, it brings together artists and audiences from all over the world, launching co-productions and facilitating negotiations between venues and producers through professional language services. Though the central focus of InlanDimensions is on postwar to postmodern art, the festival does not break up with tradition, stressing its transformations and influence on contemporary art. It introduces audiences to the concept of Eurasian theatre and film as a marriage of diverse cultures and genres within a piece of art.
InlanDimensions International Arts Festival 2022 shines a spotlight on contemporary arts in Eurasia, in order to make the viewer realise the commonalities and differentiations between the various nations and cultures, contesting ingrained stereotypes with “Asia does not exist” as its watchword, quoted after the Ambassador of this year’s festival, celebrated expert in literature and Polish studies Prof. Sekiguchi Tokimasa. When we speak of East and West ambiguities inevitably pile up, beginning with the question: Where does East actually begin, and is it not perhaps the case that certain populations which appear Oriental in the eyes of the others see themselves as Western? In order to detect the thin lines between East and West these questions were posed by Jerzy Grotowski, Allardyce Nicoll, Eugenio Barba or Nicola Savarese. Prof. Sekiguchi is echoing them emphatically when he says “What I wish to say is extremely simple. ‘Asia’ as such does not exist and the term ‘Asia’ is unnecessary as a coherent geographical category that has relevant components in reality. My line of argument is very simple as well. It is facts themselves that do not uphold the term ‘Asia’ but confirm that the use of it is redundant. On the contrary, by application of the term our perception of the world gets warped in a way that is hard to avoid and, even worse, hard to pinpoint, and the distorted world image ultimately triggers a distortion of self-knowledge – the image of ourselves.” These InlanDimensions are, after all, where Arabs, Jews, Indians, Turks, Chinese, Persians, Mongols, Koreans, Malaysians, Japanese and even Russians live. How to find a common denominator in any of the possible categories – geographical, demographic, linguistic, religious or even culinary?
The dramatist Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) was a dejected government official yet successful on the creative side. However, his theatre plays were banned by the emperor several times. Tang has a collection of four plays on dreams included Peony Pavilion (1598) in which Interrupted Dream is the tenth act of a total fifty five. The tenth act depicts a restrained teen girl in a feudal society breaking the rule by visiting the forbidden back garden to experience the splendour of spring bodily under her maid’s influence. After the visit, the teen girl meeting up with a handsome stranger in her dream. They made love. She woke up lovesick, painted a self portrait, asked to bury it in the back garden in her will. She died and was buried in the back garden under the peony pavilion.
Danny Yung, the director of Interrupted Dream about Interrupted Dream, has made uninterrupted efforts in de-/re-constructing traditional Chinese theatre and classic literature. In the past five years, inspired by the Interrupted Dream, Yung made several rounds of experimentations and interpretations on dreams in theatre.
Yung is keen on adapting the omnipresent “one table two chairs” setup in traditional Chinese theatres into a platform for engaging various cross-generation, cross-consciousness and cross-culture dialogues and practices. Two or Three about Interrupted Dream is to wrap up Yung’s experimentations in the past five years, and a tribute to the dramatist Tang Xianzu.
Danny Yung's Creative Notes on 2 or 3 Things About Interrupted Dream (2021)
The Return of Soul at the Peony Pavilion, written by dramatist Tang Xianzu in 1598, included Scene 10 – Interrupted Dream. The scene provided us significant rooms for imagination and the vicissitudes of life presented in and outside the theatre. Among the variety of symbols and narratives, we went with the flow to look for individual and collective imaginative space.
Peony Pavilion was banned several times 450 years back. Every time it was restaged, it turned into even more indulged and plaintively showy. Now, all of us, please look at this theatre, look at its confines and taboos, and attend to the way we see and be seen in Interrupted Dream.
Excerpt of "The Interrupted Geng Zi Dream is a forward-thinking theatre" by Danny Yung (2020)
I constantly feel that the forward-thinking theatre arts embodies the potential of discovering and challenging the boundaries of theatre arts, and the world that lay beyond such boundaries; at the same time, understanding and managing the way of thinking and guidelines beyond theatre arts. Those who are concerned about culture would have the same sentiment, creating is about triggering development of culture, including that of the greater cultural environment and policies. The ‘Culture’ we discuss here has evolved beyond arts and culture to the capital ‘C’ – Culture at large. The ‘culture’ is a classification of the arts with quantifiable measures, such as you are a Kunqu artist and she is a Javanese dancer; you are a performer and he is a stagehand; how many performances he needs to do this year and how many audience members she needs to draw this year…… ‘culture’ has become part of the economic consumption, promoted as part of education, seen as a service to society or touted as a national branding. These are all distinctly quantifiable features that can be clearly managed by policy makers. I constantly feel that a forward-thinking Interrupted Dream in the Year of Gengzi embodies the potential of discovering and challenging the boundaries of the stage, and the world that lay beyond such boundaries; at the same time, understanding and managing the way of thinking and guidelines beyond the stage itself.
“Interrupted Gengzi Dream” at Poland’s InlanDimensions International Art Festival 2021 (online)