APAF Art CAMP Round Table
One of the main purposes of the APAF ART camp is “to build a network among the brightest young artists working in Asian theatre.” One way that we try to achieve this to invite the best performing arts specialists from the cities in Asia, and offer them the opportunity to participate in active discussions focusing on developing ideas for future collaboration projects. Simultaneous Interpreting Available (Japanese/English)

Satoshi MIYAGI, Producer, Asian Performing Arts Festival/Tokyo

This year, the Asian Performing Arts Festival 2012 will present the APAF ART CAMP Round Table, in which the Asian artists will convene for a face-to-face discussion in order to build a network of young Asian artists and to further promote the international collaboration in Asia.
I am looking forward to a lively discussion between the participants from the six Asian cities and Mr. Junichi Hirota, who will be participating from Tokyo.
As a preparatory process for the APAF ART CAMP Round Table, we will launch a discussion forum on the website which is open to the public. In addition to the seven round table participants, Ms. Zuleikha Chaudhari, the Director of the Workshop Extension for International Collaboration from Delhi will participate.
We would like to begin the discussion with the following questions:

・How do you keep the distance between the traditional performing arts of your country and your creative activities?
・What do you expect from the collaboration with the performers who do not understand your language?

Battuluga Agluu

2012/11/29 17:45 JST

I must say, we use and learn from our traditional performing art for our comedy performance, want to be part of this a tradition, and carry the fire. So what is Mongolian traditional performing art, we can talk about Amphitheatre in the Gobi Desert (Saran Khokhoo) acted by Mahayana Tradition monks in 18th century but i would like to talk more about Nomadic culture and life especially horse which is metaphor of spirituality, purity, harmony with the nature (valuable thing as well)- The horse head fiddle(Morin Huur) musical instrument and also long song and throat song; which can express Mongolian people, and Mongolian land: endless, vast open steppe and snow capped mountains and big sand dunes therefore i like do keep distance close to our traditional performing arts of my country with my performance. of course, we have to keep and protect it as originally what was like many centuries ago.

About second question.
Art provides for human intellectual demand and it must be true and we are same profession therefore it is not that important that different language.

Pearlyn Cai

2012/11/26 22:27 JST

How do you keep the distance between the traditional performing arts of your country and your creative activities?

I am writing from the perspective of a programmer, not a director.

Singapore is a melting pot of diverse cultures, made up primarily of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian peoples, and a growing population of new immigrants from all over the world. Singaporean culture and people is a hybrid of all these. I believe the influences from our traditions, culture, Asian or Western philosophies, permeate our thinking and being. What we view as traditional arts today evolved from somewhere, and at some point in time, was contemporary (as Zuleikha and Mohd Fauzi have said). Many contemporary Singaporean artists find a rich source of material from tapping into traditional arts. In two of our biggest dance schools, all students have to learn different traditional dance forms, Chinese dance to Malay dance to Bharatanatyam. So the form is being transmitted to the new generation, but many of the artists are adapting it for their own contemporary expressions. We co-produced a work by a contemporary visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen recently, who collaborated with a veteran Malay dancer Osman Abdul Hamid in an exploration of local mythology. They combined Malay dance vocabulary with experimental rock and drone music. The work had a fresh, unique vision and I liked that new and different audiences were exposed to a traditional form, through a different lens and perspective.

As a presenter, we also present many traditional performances. We organise masterclasses and workshops where knowledge and skills can also be transmitted from master artists to younger artists. Many of them feel very inspired during these interactions.

I think what is important is that a work be as authentic and true to the artist as possible.

What do you expect from the collaboration with the performers who do not understand your language?

Longer preparation time.

While that was said a little tongue-in-cheek, I feel time should be spent together in and out of the rehearsal room to understand each other. It makes for a more successful and meaningful collaboration. The director should also have a strong impetus or vision as to why the collaboration should take place.

When language is not shared, it forces one to be creative in communication. Ideas need to be simplified and clarified, and other modes of communication have to be found. The truth of the body then has to speak, and sometimes, this is even clearer than through speech.

We had a great collaboration with a hearing impaired (deaf-mute) physical actor and a musician, and they only had less than 3 weeks to work together in total as they were based in different countries. I think one strong reason the musician could successfully create the wonderfully complementary music was because the actor’s vision for each scene was so focused, and his body communicated the ideas so well.

Mohamed Fauzi Bin Ahmad

2012/11/26 17:19 JST

First of all let me share the background of Malaysian performing arts background. The traditional performing arts of Malaysia are extremely diverse in nature, taking in the music and dance of the indigenous peoples of both Peninsular and East Malaysia, the Hindu-Buddhist dance-drama traditions associated with the ancient royal courts and the music and dance of the Islamic communities, together with a large corpus of Malay folk music and dance developed over a period of many centuries in the wake of these and other important cultural influences. To these forms, in multicultural Malaysia, must also be added the performing arts of its sizeable Chinese and Indian communities.

Some of the oldest surviving Malaysian performance traditions may be found among the indigenous communities of Peninsular Malaysia, which survive only in small numbers and in scattered groups throughout the Malay Peninsula. The performance traditions of the Dayak communities of East Malaysia also contain elements of great antiquity. Here too, music, song and dance are an integral component of the many feasts and rituals which mark the passing of the seasons in traditional society. East Malaysia boasts an enormous variety of indigenous dances, most of which traditionally bore a deep ritual significance. However, in recent years the emphasis on ritual has steadily disappeared, to be replaced in many dances by a more celebratory function; such is the nature of the dances presented as substantive performances in modern Borneo.

Among the Malay community, elements of a pre-Hindu-Buddhist tradition are also preserved in a number of proto-theatrical forms. As elsewhere in Asia, ancient animistic genres such as epic recitation, poetry games and shamanism contributed significantly to the development of traditional Malay theatre. A number of these proto-theatrical forms are still to be found today. The classical Malay music and dance tradition began to evolve during the latter half of the first millennium AD in the wake of developments in the Indonesian archipelago. While the court associations of the extant northern Malay/southern Thai classical dance-drama may be traced back only a few centuries, it is believed that forerunners of these dance-dramas were performed in the Malay courts.

Undoubtedly the most important development in Malay popular theatre – and one which would subsequently have a significant influence throughout South-East Asia – took place along the affluent west coast of Peninsular Malaysia during the late ninetenth century. The popular theatre form bangsawan (bangsa: people; wan: noble) is believed to have been created in emulation of visiting Indian parsi theatre troupes, which performed Indian, Arabic and Shakespearian plays throughout the region during the 1870s. Making pioneering use of realistic stage props and elaborate scenery, it recounted stories taken from Malay history and folk-tales, Arabian romances, Islamic literature and everyday life and is still staged today with a refreshing touch and from a traditional it was but a small step to the contemporary drama of today.

Hence, I would agree with our friend from Manila that the performing arts scenario in Kuala Lumpur is also rooted to our traditional performing arts and we have been for the years fused them as we believe the traditional practices were once contemporary at that very time. We can see this evolution in performing arts especially modern theatre, dance-drama and musical in Kuala Lumpur which was steered concurrently in promoting with the development of audience. While we are equipped with creative graduates from local and overseas universities in the performing arts studies, unlike other countries (I’m not sure with this facts) we are still facing hard-to-capture audiences.

As my response to the 2nd question, the process of working with performers from another culture and who have a different language similar to the process of working with artists from other disciplines/practices and of course by learning and taking the history of the others culture background will narrow the barrier of language and give more opportunity not only to the performers but also to the audience to see their cultures through the movements of the bodies.

Bambang Prihadi

2012/11/26 15:47 JST

What Tradition means for me

For me, there are two understandings of Tradition.
First, there is Static tradition. This is a social habit of a community which is transmitted from generation to generation. In this understanding of the word, tradition is generally considered to be something that has been institutionalized and standardized with any guidance and norm.

Static tradition is the source of many cultural elements, such as law, politics, economic and even art culture, all of which describe the characteristic and identity of a society and the spirit of the era when the cultural elements were created. This tradition is protected by certain groups in society like chiefs of indigenous people, village elders, partisans and public society, which are in turn also affected by expansion of a particular form of tradition.

Second, dynamic traditions are considered as social customs that are not a standardized and have not been institutionalized to become strict cultural elements. This is the opposite understanding of the first one. This tradition constantly evolves and is more dynamic. It is more about spirit of work and searching senf identity in this globalization and independence era. The institutionalization, more onto the enthusiasm for work and searching for self-identity process in this globalization era spirit and independence. For the acts undergoing this process, tradition is considered as the spirit of an era that supports the cultural products that were created

Therefore, in 70’s, theater actors, especially in Indonesia began to make a move back to the tradition, not in romanticism context, but as an effort to self-constitutionalizing in a time marked by rapid changes.
This is what was started by Ws.Rendra, Teguh Karya, Putu Wijaya, Arifien C.Noer, Sardono and was continued by Budi S.otong, Rachman Sabur, Dindon, cs, with different tribal culture background.

Based on that, today, for me tradition is the proses itself. It will create new work representing the society and that era`s spirit, if the theater actor undergoes it with a deep understanding of what is happening today. The current theater tradition in Jakarta has driven my effort to search for a dynamic tradition. The first reason is that a static tradition couldn’t directly be experienced by the theater actors.

Secondly, the common situations in Jakarta demand the theater actors to create some works in professional management work that have not been supported well by the government.
In reality, I understand and feel that I am still far away from Indonesian traditional tradition and art (theater) at the moment. It is the same thing with other traditions around the world.

Therefore, I have to conduct some proper studies and research for some period of time, to be able to understand these traditions better. This is necessary if the results are to be considered as the basis of the creation or inspiration for a new theater work training method.
It is an interesting challenge to see how much I can collaborate with some different language speaking participants.

The first and main requirement is a readiness to open up. Being open is a kind of invitation to others. What you share about yourself should encourage others to come in and make contact with you in your life, whoever you are and wherever you come from.

The participants have to open the understanding space widely, starting with an effort to understand oral language, dialect as well as body language. At this point, the way of communication is not only understood by using English.

It means, in actual collaboration, each participant is also required to learn each other`s languages. Building trust and openness to others are needed. Only then can the participants move forward to discuss the plans, aims and targets of this collaboration.

If the purpose of the collaboration is merely to know others differences such as language, skin, religion and country, I feel we would fall short of our true targets. For me this couldn’t have a significant benefit for life in this globalized era. It would just be some kind of a regular meeting agenda for artist funded by rich country.

However, if the aims of the collaboration is to deep exploring of the meaning of life and humanitarianism, going beyond religion, cultural product trends and each local traditions, it would inspire people around the world (Asia), to have a better life, as well as making people feel at home and comfortable regardless of their personality, where they live, what they do or what language they speak.
In this ideal understanding and spirit, it should be an intimate gathering in order to create theater art as I mentioned before. It starts with an opening up to others and readiness to explore and learn each other’s tradition and culture physically to minimize the communication problems.
In my understanding, exploring is to study properly what each participant does in their country or their social life.

Lu Yan

2012/11/21 18:00 JST

What do you expect from the collaboration with the performers who do not understand your language?

The question itself is interesting, so as the answer. I think collaboration among people from different cultural background is a big challenge, as well as a fulfilling experience full of uncertainty, conflicts and cultural clash. At the same time, this experience is also where derive exhilarating and startling inspiration from. I assume arts transcend all boundaries. Artists may have different understanding towards performing arts, but this inter-pervasion and inter-impact of multicultural is of great value and also the future of all arts.

Lu Yan

2012/11/21 17:59 JST

How do you keep the distance between the traditional performing arts of your country and your creative activities?

It’s hard to define the traditional performing arts of China. From my point of view, we may use the word “realism” to define it. In traditional performing arts of China, performers are supposed to be true to the given circumstances of the script. Directors strictly require the style of performing, stage décor and costumes to penetrate the style of the nation and the time that the action takes place.
In my creative activities, the first thing that I take into consideration is the contemporariness. In other words, what medium or approach could be employed to convey the classics, for instance, Hamlet to contemporary audience. So directors should probe into the inherent laws and unique aesthetic quality of the stage hypothesis. By bringing out the latent potential of the stage hypothesis, performing arts are breaking through representational dramatic time and space.

Zuleikha Chaudhari

2012/11/20 14:47 JST

Perhaps one way to think about the relationship to tradition is that traditional practices were contemporary to their own times – vocabularies and forms that were created to investigate and express experiences of that present – just as we do today. And so one could consider oneself at once close to or far from tradition. I have recently been reading Giorgio Agamben’s essay What is the Contemporary, where he says that those who can call themselves contemporary are those who do not allow themselves to be blinded by the lights of the century but who manage to get glimpse of the shadows of the century. It is a perception of darkness. The now/present isn’t not a position but an attitude. It’s really not about the new. He discusses a well-known poem called Vek written by the poet Osip Mandelstam in the 1920s where the century is like a beast. It’s conjoined with the body of the artist and the poet and it immediately demands a response from the thinker and the artist. The century has a broken backbone. The shattered backbone is the contemporary. From here Agamben proposes a model for the contemporary which is a notion of broken time. Broken time demands a specific response, which is that our time, which is the present, is actually very distant. It cannot reach us, its backbone is broken, and we are – that is the thinker, the artist, the practitioner – at this point of the fracture of time. It’s really not about newness. To be contemporary is not to intimate the new, but a perception of this crisis.
The essay posits time outside chronology. There is no before and after. There is a question of a relationship between different times.

If one considers tradition to be an archive, an archive contains both the presence as well as the absence of the historical. I am beginning to be interested in archives to look for clues about the things that they do not contain. Listening to the silences of the archive is an act of the imagination. It is here that the artist is able to do a few things that the historian is inhibited from doing.
A couple of years ago I read a 10th century manual in Sanskrit for poets and performers by Abhinavagupta, a philosopher and aesthetician from early medieval Kashmir. Abhinavagupta proposes a scheme for combining emotional and bodily states to produce a cascading series of affective registers that the actor can play with. So, for instance, you can have the feeling of having your hair stand on end (horripilation) which can be a compound of different emotional states ranging from fear to intense erotic engagement.
Abhinavagupta’s proposal works within the territory of things that we know, but that defy classification, because they may be the product of things that would normally not be classed together. A lot of my subsequent work has been engaged with the idea of how one experiences and to find ways of constructing experiences of states of being and feeling so fleeting, so real and so enigmatic that there is no vocabulary to articulate them.

In thinking about my response to the 2nd question, I found myself thinking: is the process of working with performers from another culture and who have a different language similar to the to the process of working with artists from other disciplines/practices? What is learned or unlearned in this process?

Tuxqs Rutaquio

2012/11/15 23:55:00 JST

Nationhood & Diversity

My creative activities are deeply rooted to my country’s traditional performing arts, instead of distancing the two, it’s been my personal desire to fuse them, bridge the gap if there exists one, for as an artist, what is personal should not only be universal, but should primarily be national. My creative activities define me not only as an artist but more so, as a person, and my identity is shaped by my country’s history, that to say there is a disconnect between my art and my country’s artistic history is to imply that there is dissonance in my identity, that I exist as an entity shrouded with pretense and insincerity. My art is not a lonely loose thread, it is tightly woven to the very evolution of the nation that I am very much, (and proudly so) a part of.

If given a chance to collaborate with non-english and non-filipino speakers, I’ll keep in mind that we are all artists, even with marked individuality, We still see the universality of things.In any given communicative act, though we may be in awe of discovering cultural details which we do not own, finding similarities in those details is still the more jovial experience. For isn’t it true that art in itself is the creation of unity in diversity? As an artist, I’d like to think that it is with creativity that one can overcome the language barrier. What is language anyhow but a system of signs? There are other systems, and I believe my being a visual artist is going to be handy. Instead of words, I’ll draw images, instead of grammar, I may use non- verbals. In the end, the collaborative process will give rise to a medium we may all share.

Junichi Hirota

2012/11/14 8:14:00 JST

○How do you keep the distance between the traditional performing arts of your country and your creative activities?

Japan has a variety of forms of traditional arts such as “Noh,” “Noh-Comedy,” “Kabuki,” “Bunraku,”and “Rakugo”. They are, fortunately, still part of our culture and easily accessible to the modern people of Japan. However, for someone like me, who creates contemporary arts in smaller scale theatres, the interaction with traditional artists is not all that strong. The pieces I create rely on Western Performing Arts to a larger degree. So I have to say that my works have relatively little influence from the traditional arts of Japan.

But it would not be true to say that I have not gotten any influence from our traditional performing arts. I can say that I have received a lot of influence from a traditional story-telling technique called “Rakugo”. In a Rakugo performance, the story-teller sits upright on a floor cushion in the middle of the stage. Many of the stories are comedies and indeed Rakugo is often likened to Western stand-up comedy, but Rakugo stories are as likely to be tragedies or love stories. This breadth of themes means that the performers must develop superlative expressiveness and the ability to switch instantly between the multiple characters in often quite long tales.

In one type of “Rakugo” performance called “Hanashika”, the performer hardly changes his position during the entire show. Apart from a few very exceptional cases he expresses the entire story with just his voice and the subtlest of facial and body movements. Perfecting this sophisticated acting style, which expression is minimized to the upmost limit, requires incredible dedication, and best performers can almost hypnotize their audiences into experiencing the most incredibly detailed scenes.

This is probably where my interest in keeping the use of props to a minimum and to have my actors express as much as possible through their movements.

I have gotten a lot of influence from traditional performing arts in the postures and balance I have my actors’ use and in the way they vocalize. For example, in ballet, dancers keep their upper body as the center of balance, but Japanese traditional performing artists aim to keep the lower part of the body as the center, which I feel to be more powerful and stable. This is probably the part that I got the strong influence consciously or subconsciously.

○What do you expect from the collaboration with the performers who do not understand your language?

For one, their physiques, which are obviously different from ours. The similarity of physique and posture of people who live in Japan is very strong. The land of Japan is not all that small, but we all share a very similar physique in any part of the country. Sometimes it brings us harmony and perfect closeness, but it may also limit our awareness of the true breadth of possibilities inherent in the variety of shapes of the human body.

I became aware of this during a previous collaboration with a dancer who had learned Korean Traditional dance. Similar to the Japanese and other Asians, she had a low center of balance, yet I was very surprised to see that she was able to make dynamic acrobatic turns and shift her balance vertically, in a way which was entirely different from Japanese dance or European ballet. I felt that I had made contact with not just her individual character but a core part of the culture in which she had grown up. It was a very fascinating experience for me. What I expect is to encounter surprises like that when watching the performers’ postures and the ways they move their bodies.

In other words, encounters with performers who do not understand my language will present me with the opportunity to see their cultures through the raw movements of their bodies. By meeting performers who do not own anything Japanese, maybe we can become aware of our “Japanese-ness” again. This is what I expect.

Artists List

[Manila]Tuxqs Rutaquio

Born in 1974
Theater director, production designer, actor

Associate Artistic Director of Tanghalang Pilipino, Cultural Center of the Philippines / Artistic Director, Dramaturg of Virgin Labfest (A festival of unstaged and unpublished plays) Cultural Center of the Philippines / Member of Writer’s Bloc / Assistant Professor of Communications Department, Miriam College
?Among his successful partnerships with playwright, Layeta Bucoy, ≪Tu Dulce Extranjera≫ was shown in Dublin and County Ofaly, Ireland (June 2011). Other valuable works in directing are William Shakespeare’s ≪Titus Andronicus≫, Garcia Lorca’s ≪When FiveYears Pass≫ etc.

[Jakarta]Bambang Prihadi

Born in 1976
Theater director, playwright, actor

Artistic Director, chairman of Lab Theatre / Executive Director of the Federation of Indonesian Theatre

He was participated in many productions directed by Dindon, like as ≪ ON OFF Works ≫ at Setagaya Public Theatre of Tokyo in Japan in 2008, as a player.
Other valuable works of Lab Theater Production in directing and script writing are ≪KUBANGAN (MUD HOLE)≫, at Bentara Budaya Jakarta, CCF Bandung, Surabaya FSS Youth Center in 2007 and in Sumatra in 2008, ≪CERMIN BERCERMIN (MIRRORS) ≫, at Bentara Budaya Jakarta, in 2011. He has also many experiences in seminars, workshops, discussions, gatherings, festivals, and teaching

[Shanghai]Lu Yan

Born in 1974
Theater director

Assistant professor of acting in drama in Shanghai Theatre Academy

He studied under famous contemporary master of drama art, like as Yuri Vasilyev at St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy where he obtained doctor’s degree in acting/ directing of drama, The works he directed are ≪The Maid≫, ≪Romeo and Juliet≫, ≪En attendant Godot≫, ≪Othello≫, ≪Macbeth≫, ≪Hamlet≫. In 2011, he co-directed ≪Si Siang Ki≫ a classic Chinese drama with Gerard Gelas, the founder of Theatre du Chene Noir d’Avignon, which became successful both critically and commercially in The Avignon Theatre Festival that year.

[Kuala Lumpur]Mohamed Fauzi Bin Ahmad

Manager of the Department of the Arts and Cultural section for Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)

Responsible for the promotions, production and marketing of arts and cultural activities, especially performing arts (Theatre, Musical and Dance) in Kuala Lumpur, he managed DBKL’s City Theatre (Panggung Bandaraya), Panggung Anniversary DBKL’s Cultural Troupe comprises of Cultural Musicians and Dancers and so on. He produced also many works in Musical Theatre, Dance Drama, Traditional and Modern Theatre

[Singapore]Pearlyn Cai

Born in 1981
Program Officer of the Esplanade / Programming and education & outreach manager of the Singapore Biennale 2006 and 2008

She is currently a programmer with the Esplanade, and oversees a diverse portfolio including community festivals to theatre programmes. The theatre series that she has recently co-produced for Esplanade are also highly appreciated, such as Ramesh Meyyappan’s ≪ Snails & Ketchup≫ (2011) which won Best Actor and was nominated for Best Sound Design at the Life! Theatre Awards in Singapore.

[Ulaanbaatar]Battuluga Agluu

Born in 1975
Theater director, actor, Leader of “X-tuts” production

Ha has graduated the State University of Art and Culture, and he was invited to work at State academic theatre of Drama and starting from that year he played in many plays such as ≪Romeo and Juliet≫, ≪Story of the King≫ etc. Starting in 2001, he has joined comedian “X-tuts” production and has been working there since making a history in acting world and leaving his foot prints in people’s hearts. Between his work he has been to many countries for festivals and ceremonies (Kazakhstan in 2011, France and Hungary in 2009, Korea in 2009. 2007, 2001, UK and Ireland in 2007). He has also many experiences in Cinema, and got important awards in Mongolia.

[Tokyo]Junichi Hirota

Born in 1978
Theater director, Playwright, Leader of “Amayadori”

He founded “Hyottoko Ranbu” as a student of Tokyo University in 2001 and has been involved with writing, directing and acting in all of the company’s plays since its inception (the company’s name became “Amayadori” in 2012)
He participated in APAF 2009 and APAF Workshop for International Collaboration 2010 as a director. He was invited to Seoul in 2011 by Korean Directors Association and created ≪Don Juan≫ with Korean actors. He won first place at the Japan Directors Association “Emerging Director Competition” in 2004 among others.
He will participate in APAF Workshop-Extension 2012 for International Collaboration, as a director.

[Delhi]Zuleikha Chaudhari

<Special member(only for the discussion on the web)>

Theater director, Lighting Designer

Zuleikha Chaudhari is a theatre director and lighting designer. Her work is an investigation of the nature of performance. It explores and develops a series of questions to do with the interruption of the narrative structure, how images are constructed and experienced, the relationship of the text and performer, the dynamic between performer and space, and finally, the role of the spectator in the performative experience.

Her practice has developed over the past years into working with light structures/installations as explorations of space.She is interested in the nature of experience. Her installations engage with the question of how we experience and how the experience of experiencing can be created and communicated. They are as much about an external landscapes as they are about internal geographies.

Recent performances are ≪ SEEN AT SECUNDRABAGH≫, in Collaboration with the Raqs Media Collective, Co-Produced by: Weiner Festwochen, Vienna 2012, Kunsten Festivaldes Arts, Brussels 2011, Festival D’Automne, Paris 2011 ≪ ON SEEING≫, based on Haruki Murakami’s ON SEEING THE 100% PERFECT GIRL ONE BEAUTIFUL APRIL MORNING.

She will participate in APAF Workshop-Extension 2012 for International Collaboration, as a director.

*For the round table, participating in the Pre-Discussion only