Dream from the past toward the future

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Dream from the past toward the future

Dream from the past toward the future


Pawit Mahasarinand

Fukuoka Prize laureate Danny Yung brings his latest stage work, plus a conference, to Bangkok Theatre Festival this weekend.

For those who have read The Nation throughout these years, Hong Kong stage director, designer and cultural activist Danny Yung is already a familiar name. For example, our National Artist Patravadi Mejudhon performed in his “Book of Ghosts” at Hong Kong Arts Festival 2009, B-Floor Theatre’s Ornanong Thaisriwong and 18 Monkeys Dance Theatre’s Jitti Chompee participated in his “One Table Two Chairs” platform.

Others may recall his exhibition “Tian Tian Xiang Shang: Arts Is Learning Learning Is Arts at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre three years ago on which Bangkok Post wrote, “Anyone with a voice can contribute to the BACC’s experimental 8th floor installation.”

If none of these rings any bells, here’s part of the Fukuoka Prize citation for the co-artistic director of Zuni Icosahedron: “As a stage director, dramatist and performance artist, Mr. Danny Yung (Rong Nianzeng) has created more than 100 experimental theatrical works, and also has dedicated himself to the areas of international exchange, cultural policies and art education. 

He has contributed greatly to the development of Asian arts and culture through his diverse projects, which have created connections between people across time and space, between Asia and the rest of the world, and between traditional culture and modern art.”

Thanks to the support by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) and the cooperation with World Performances @ Drama Chula program, Yung’s latest production “Interrupted Dream” is part of Bangkok Theatre Festival 2022.

For this work, he was inspired by the tenth scene of Tang Xianzu’s “Peony Pavilion”. 

Dream from the past toward the future

Yung wrote, “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. 

Dream from the past toward the future

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’”.

Dream from the past toward the future

Two months ago, “Interrupted Dream” was the opening work for the InlanDimensions International Arts Festival in Poland. Rossella Ferrari, China studies professor at University of Vienna, wrote that the play is about “boundaries and transgressions—between wake and dream, passion and duty, innocence and guilt, the living and the dead, corporeal reality and ghostly appearances.”

Dream from the past toward the future

Having studied Yung’s works for years, she noted, “Yung has never been afraid of boundaries—and of transgressing them” and that “this work is no exception.” 

Dream from the past toward the future

“Contemporary history, invoked with varying degrees of allusion in previous iterations of the series, takes centre stage in this most recent version. Yung’s newest production crosses what is, arguably, the ultimate boundary in current public discourse in Hong Kong, as it opens with footage of the 2019/20 Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests and explicit visual references to technologies of surveillance.” 

Dream from the past toward the future

As Yung’s stage works are also known for their visual elements, Ferrari pointed out, “Emblematic of the production’s media design, a thin red line keeps appearing and disappearing on the back screen throughout the performance as if to signal a boundary to a forbidden zone, which the six performers onstage must negotiate with and push back constantly, almost ritually. 

Likewise, fast-multiplying red squares moving rapidly across the screen frame the faces of the protesters in the opening video footage – in an obvious nod to the ubiquity of facial recognition systems and control mechanisms during the protests, as well as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Bangkok audiences will soon—to be more precise, tonight (November 18) and tomorrow 7pm at Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts—find out how this is relevant to what happened here in the past few years.  

Concurrently is an international conference “Toward a Human Resource Development Initiative for Cultural Exchange”, conducted entirely in English and with hybrid (on-site and online) mode, with Yung and Surapone Virulrak, president of the Royal Society and former vice president of Chulalongkorn University as keynote speakers. 

Others who will share their experience and thoughts include National Artist Janaprakal Chandruang; Rachel Cooper, Asia Society’s director of global performing arts and special cultural initiatives; Yusaku Imamura, Tokyo University of the Arts’ vice president; and Hans-Georg Knopp, former secretary general of the Goethe Institut headquarters. It’s on Saturday and Sunday, November 19 and 20, 2 to 5pm at Maha Chulalongkorn building. There’s no registration fee.

For more details, ticket reservation and conference registration, please visit http://www.facebook.com/DramaArtsChula, or Line “@dramaartschula”.

Pawit Mahasarinand

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