Digital Asian Shakespeare Festival
The Festival will feature performance screenings, curated watch parties, dialogue sessions with practitioners and video presentations.Here are the featured artists and performance screenings that will be made available during the Congress.
The Tempest (2004), Contemporary Legend Theatre (Taiwan)
Dir. WU Hsing-kuo (Taiwan) and TSUI Hark (Hong Kong)
The Tempest is the brainchild of WU Hsing-kuo, a pioneer in intercultural theatre, and TSUI Hark, a renowned film director, with costume and scene design by Oscar-winning Tim YIP. The play incorporates traditional Chinese theatre jingju (Beijing Opera) and kunqu (Kun Opera) and Taiwan’s aboriginal music and dance. Beneath the marvelous spectacle and enchanting music, the play also explores the issues of identity, patriarchy, colonisation, and strong man politics, topics acutely relevant to modern Taiwan and Asia.
Image and trailer courtesy of Taiwan Shakespeare Database.
ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION
WU Hsing-kuo (Taiwan)
WU Hsing-kuo is Founding Artistic Director of the Contemporary Legend Theatre (CLT), and a multi-talented artist across traditional Chinese theatre, modern theatre, dance, film, and television. Wu reinvigorates xiqu (traditional Chinese opera) with thematic and aesthetic innovation, and is keen to explore new theatrical forms. Ranging from traditional xiqu titles, original plays, and adaptations of Western classics, his theatre works have frequented international festivals and toured in more than 20 countries. In Shakespeare circles, Wu is best known for his re-imaginings of Macbeth, Lear, and Prospero, and he is currently working on Julius Caesar. Among the honours he has received are Taiwan’s National Award for Arts (2010), the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres-Chevalier (2011), and the Hong Kong Film Award (1996).
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2019), Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio (Hong Kong)
Dir. TANG Shu-wing
A modern couple makes a dream in which they enter into the universe of Macbeth in a buried past of ancient China, assuming the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and encountering the different characters in the play. Awaking from the dream in which the dark side of humanity was experienced, the couple begins to contemplate their possible place in this contemporary realm of turbulence. Inspired by the tradition of Asian physical theatre, this version of Macbeth transmits the spirit of the play through a succession of stylised images, where body expression, physical movements and live accompaniment expose the characters' relationship as well as the director's vision of time and space.
Image and trailer courtesy of Tang Shu-wing Theatre Company.
KEYNOTE and WATCH PARTY
TANG Shu-wing (Hong Kong)
Theatre director and drama educator Tang is hailed by the media as "one of the most talented theater directors in Hong Kong". After studying Law at the University of Hong Kong, Tang pursued theatre studies at the University of New Sorbonne in Paris. His interest in physical theatre, dance art, visual arts and spiritual practice have led him to a minimalist aesthetics driven by the body. His diverse cultural background and accomplishments give his works a unique blend of tradition and the contemporary. Tang established No Man's Land in 1997 (renamed Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio in 2011). He taught at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from 2004 to 2011 where he served as a lecturer, Head of Directing and Playwriting and Dean of the School of Drama. He has trained many new actors using his superb training methods and rich creativity. In 2014, he set up the Professional Physical Theatre Youth Training Programme, which has become a brand for nurturing young performers. In 2019, Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio was selected by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council as an Eminent Arts Group, confirming its leading position in the industry.
Tang has created more than 50 works, of which the best known, such as Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus 2.0, Macbeth, Detention and Thunderstorm, have been staged in many international arts festivals. His key written work has had a considerable impact on the Chinese theatre industry: Analysis and Reflections on the Theories of Acting of Meyerhold (2001), Titus Andronicus: approach to minimalist aesthetics and physical theatre (2014) and Writings from the Seine: my reflections on theatre (2016). Tang’s major awards include thrice winning Best Director in the Hong Kong Drama Awards, the Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service, Certificate of Commendation by the Secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau, Honorary Fellow of Lingnan University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, l’Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and Excellence Award by the Undercloud Festival of Romania. In 2008 and 2013, he was awarded Arts Achievement and the Best Artist of the Year respectively by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2020, he was awarded the Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. He has served in a number of public bodies and continues to make substantial contributions to the Hong Kong cultural sector.
Kathakali – King Lear (2019), The Annette Leday/Keli Company (France)
Dir. Annette LEDAY (France) and David McRUVIE (Australia)
French dancer and choreographer Annette LEDAY and Australian playwright David McRUVIE transposed King Lear into Kathakali, an Indian dance and theatre tradition. The central themes of kinship, love, renunciation of the world and war are magnified by the colourful storytelling, the makeup and the huge headdresses of the dancers who move the stage through the harmony of their gestures and the intensity of their emotions. The play has become a reference in the field of intercultural performance since its premiere in 1989. This film is of the 2019 performance.
Image and trailer courtesy of AxeSud.
ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION and WATCH PARTY
Annette LEDAY (France)
Dancer and choreographer Annette LEDAY has developed a unique approach to intercultural contemporary creation, focusing on the dance and theatre traditions of India and France. A graduate of the Institut des Langues Orientales in Paris, Leday discovered the dance theatre Kathakali in the mid-1970s. It was love at first sight as her three passions were melted in this form: India, theatre and dance! She decided to study there. In 1978 she settled in a village in Kerala and studied at the Sadanam and Kalamandalam institutions with a scholarship from the Indian government. After about ten years she created the Annette Leday/Keli company. In 1988 the company produced Kathakali-King Lear, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play into Kathakali. Since then Leday has directed many productions involving French and Indian performers.
Pericles (2016), Yohangza Theatre Company (Korea)
Dir. YANG Jung-Ung (Korea)
Director YANG Jung-Ung of the Yohangza Theatre Company chooses to emphasise contemporaneity in his take on Pericles, last presented in 2016. Cosmopolitan costumes, music, and dance are set atop a sand-covered stage, meant to create the image of sea and island. The presence of the goddess Diana is represented by a gigantic statue of her head, laid on its side to express a sense of precariousness. The huge images of a compass and a moon, which are alternately projected on the back screen of the stage, give a proper background to Pericles, who wanders from place to place. Gower, who leads the whole play as a narrator, is transformed into old Pericles. It is the old tale of Pericles, told as it has never been told before.
ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION and WATCH PARTY
YANG Jung-Ung (South Korea)
YANG Jung-Ung founded the Yohangza Theatre Company in 1997. His aesthetic philosophy has been the creation of images that are produced through harmony among the lighting, sound and bodily movements. He has expanded the horizon of dramatic language with his direction that relies on harmonising Eastern philosophy with the aesthetics of images and space. Yang’s direction incorporates other genres such as opera, ballet and musicals. He received the Grand Prix for Karma (2003) at the 15th Cairo International Experimental Drama Festival. The company was the first Korean company to perform at the Barbican (2006) and Shakespeare’s Globe (2012) in London. A Midsummer Night’s Dream went on to receive the Grand Prix and Audience Award at the 10th Gdansk Shakespeare Festival. In 2018, Yang was appointed the director of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics ceremony.
Ophelia (2016), Cake Theatrical Productions (Singapore)
Dir. Natalie HENNEDIGE (Singapore)
She captures the imagination with her madness, her drowning. A tragic character set eternally in a pool of water, eyes dead, and full of secrets. So little is known about Ophelia. What does she tell us beyond the limits she faced in her short life? Inspired by Shakespeare’s character, this work delves into the workings of a mind, intricate and complex, encompassing the landscape of a soul inextricably linked to that of a prominent other, Hamlet. Beyond the politics of sex and gender and the cycles of oppression that pervade history, Ophelia reflects too on the grey areas of our humanity; the deep-seated desires, motives and actions that account for the tragedies that keep the human race in a constant state of drowning.
This production of Ophelia was first presented in collaboration with Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, as part of The Studios.
Image courtesy of Cake Theatrical, © Tucky’s Photography.
Natalie HENNEDIGE (Singapore)
Natalie HENNEDIGE is the founder and Artistic Director of Cake, a performance company now in its fifteenth year of presenting progressive new works at the intersection of performance and a variety of other disciplines. Her direction and writing are known for a singular artistic language and creative vision exploring contemporary issues through highly constructed, heightened worlds with collaborators from diverse artistic disciplines and cultural backgrounds. At Cake, she created the Decimal Points series and Running with Strippers platform, an exploratory ispace driven by engagement and dialogue with other artists. Her work has been presented in national and international venues. She is a recipient of the National Arts Council Young Artist Award (2007) and JCCI Singapore Foundation Culture Award (2010).
Mak Yong Titis Sakti (2009), The Actors Studio (Malaysia)
Dir. Norzizi ZULKIFLI (Malaysia)
Mak Yong is a traditional Malay theatre form comprised of dancing, singing, music, improvisational acting, story, and rituals. It originated in the state of Kelantan, and in 2005 was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Mak Yong has its own performance structure which is one of its unique features. In addition, it has around 15 stock stories.
In 2009, Norzizi Zulkifli presented an original Mak Yong, not from one the traditional stories, but one based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Norzizi and Nan Megat created Titis Sakti (The Magical Drop) focusing only on the love stories of the three couples - the perfect love (Theseus & Hippolyta), the forbidden love (Hermia & Lysander) and the unrequited love (Helena & Demetrius), all taking place in a mystical setting where magic and fairies come alive. The characters were given Mak Yong’s names and the new text uses the Malay Kelantanese dialect while retaining some of Shakespeare’s dialogue.
Mak Yong Titis Sakti was presented in 2009 as a part of the Seni Teater Rakyat programme at the Actors Studio, produced by Dato’ Faridah Merican and performed at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) in Pentas 2. In 2018, Mak Yong Titis Sakti was performed on a bigger stage, Pentas 1, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Actors Studio.
Image courtesy of Kelab Shashin Fotographi KL. Trailer courtesy of The Actors Studio.
*This trailer is for the 2018 production of Mak Yong Titis Sakti. The production that will be featured is the 2009 version.
Norzizi ZULKIFLI (Malaysia)
Norzizi ZULKIFLI began her career as an actor in theatre, film and radio dramas. Her directorial work includes The Glass Menagerie, Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah, Mak Yong Anak Raja Gondang, Mak Yong Raja Tangkai Hati and Aladdin: A Children’s Musical in Istana Budaya (National Theatre), Mak Yong Titis Sakti, Medea, Throne of Thorns (an adaptation of The Tempest), Oedipus and Usikan Rebab. She was awarded Best Director in the Cameronian 10th BOH Arts Award (2013) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in the 15th BOH Arts Award (2018). Oedipus was awarded Best Group Performance in the 17th BOH Arts Award (2020). Norzizi is currently Head of the Theatre Program, Universiti Teknologi MARA.
Producer: Faridah MERICAN (Malaysia)
Known as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, Faridah started acting in the 1960s. In 1989, Faridah co-founded The Actors Studio with her husband Joe Hasham OAM and established The Actors Studio @ Plaza Putra, Malaysia’s first privately-owned theatre space, in 1995. When this space was destroyed by floods in 2003, they went on to establish The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) in 2005 and the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac) in 2011. Faridah is currently Adjunct Professor & Programme Development Director of TUTAS, Malaysia's first performing arts conservatory degree programme by The Actors Studio and Taylor's University.
Lear Is Dead (2018), Nine Years Theatre (Singapore)
Dir. Nelson CHIA (Singapore)
Lear is dead, the entire country mourns.
The Fools Society presents Lear Is Dead—a performance that tells the story of Lear. Based on Shakespeare’s play, Nine Years Theatre presents a re-imagined reality through the play-within-a-play, Lear Is Dead. When power is gained, wisdom is lost. When history is learnt, the present becomes clear. Why should the jesters replay their national memory, and how will the citizens move on without Lear?
ARTIST IN CONVERSATION and WATCH PARTY
Nelson CHIA (Singapore)
Nelson CHIA is an actor, director, writer and theatre educator. He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Nine Years Theatre (NYT). He was the first local artist to be commissioned for a consecutive three years to present works at the Esplanade’s Huayi Festival, twice received Best Actor Awards (2011 and 2013) and four times Best Director Awards (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019) at the ST Life! Theatre Awards. In 2017, he was commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts to open the festival with Art Studio, a stage adaptation of the novel by local award-winning author YENG Pway Ngon.
Mugen Noh Othello (2018), Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre (Japan)
Dir. MIYAGI Satoshi (Japan)
MIYAGI Satoshi depicts Shakespeare’s tragedy in the form of ‘Mugen-Noh’ and from the perspective of Desdemona, sublimating it as a painful love story. The method of separating words and actions, thus having a ‘mover’ and ’speaker’ together play one role, has been in development since the beginning of the Ku Na’uka Theatre Company in 1990. The play premiered at the Japanese Garden in the Tokyo National Museum in 2005. The live performance of percussive instruments by the actors will powerfully produce the festive atmosphere unique to Miyagi. We invite you to watch the moment when Mugen-Noh is reborn on an unorthodox Noh stage at the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center.
MIYAGI Satoshi (Japan)
MIYAGI Satoshi is the Artistic Director of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) Japan, prior to which he founded and led the Ku Na’uka Theatre Company in 1990. His work is internationally recognised for striking interpretations of classic plays fused with physical techniques and patterns of Asian theatre. His SPAC works presented abroad include Medea, Peer Gynt, and Mahabharata, which was staged in the Carrière de Boulbon at the Avignon Festival 2014 to great acclaim. His Antigone was the first Asian play to inaugurate the festival in 2017. As part of his vision of making theatre ‘a window to the world’, Miyagi has presented overseas performances at SPAC, and started a SPAC-based project for youth in Shizuoka. Among the many awards Miyagi’s work has received, in 2018, he received the Art Encouragement Prize of Drama by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In the same year, he received the ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ from the Ministry of Culture in France.
Henry V (2019), Royal Shakespeare Company (UK) and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center (China)
Dir. OWEN HORSLEY (UK)
This was the first Chinese language Shakespeare play performed from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Folio Translation Project. Produced by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, this was the first time that Henry V had ever been staged professionally in China. It played in Shanghai from 11–27 November 2016, and moved the traditional 15th-century setting in England to contemporary China. Eight male and eight female actors performed in the play, with LAN Haimeng taking on the title role.
During the development of the translation, Nick YU Rongjun, who edited the translated script, spent time in the RSC rehearsal room to see how actors, directors and voice practitioners approach Shakespeare’s text. After the first draft was completed, we tested the new translation through a series of workshops with the actors before going into rehearsals. The featured video is a recording of the 2019 re-staging.
Image courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Owen HORSLEY (United Kingdom)
Director Owen HORSLEY trained at Drama Centre London and is an Associate Director of Cheek By Jowl. In 2016 he created Bard City, which offers Shakespeare training in New York and London as well as presenting innovative versions of his work. Directing credits include Maydays by David Edgar (RSC), Salome by Oscar Wilde (RSC) The Famous Victories of Henry V (RSC), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Garsington Opera), Henry V (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Watermill Theatre).