Bodies that overlap and collide through the life of an artist.
Boundaries of all kinds, surrounding those bodies:
- National, sexual, gender-based, ethnic, class,
authority and anti-authority, past and future, rise and fall, life and death -
What arises when boundaries waver, separate, and fuse?
Herein is born a play that expands the very structure of theater.
This international collaboration project grew out of an encounter of two artists, both born in the 1970s: Uthis Haemamool and Toshiki Okada. Haemamool is a novelist on the leading edge of contemporary Thai literature, and has received the Southeast Asian Write Award and the Seven Book Award. Okada is a Japanese playwright and novelist, and is also known as the director of the theatrical company chelfitsch. In this project, the latest novel by Haemamool "Pratthana - A Portrait of Possession" (titled "Rang Khong Pratthana" in Thai), which was published in June 2017, is being adapted for the stage under the direction of Okada. Both Haemamool and Okada continue to create works reflecting keen insights into contemporary society, and the project rests on the fusion of their perspectives as artists. It questions the various borderlines born of the nation-state framework.
Haemamool's novel revolves around a single artist as its protagonist. It depicts his life and retraces his love life from the early 1990s until the present. At the same time, it overlays the flow of history and political unrest in Thailand, where the artist lives. The project came about because of Okada's strong empathy with this outline of the novel. While portraying the life of a lone artist, Okada's play is being constructed by superimposing nation, body, and sexual conduct as well as political turmoil, using a methodology unique to theater. One must also not forget the existence of Yuya Tsukahara, who is collaborating with Okada for the first time in the role of scenographer. He is the foremost member of contact Gonzo, which is internationally active and known for its many brawling performances and installations under the banner of "philosophy of pain, technique of contact." His participation will presumably accelerate the process of shedding the skin of the original novel and morphing into a distinctive performance.
One key point about the collaboration is that Haemamool, Okada, and each member of the project team are all active as artists, and that the protagonist of the work likewise lives the same age as an artist. While engaging in creative exploration in his artistic activities and within the political environment surrounding them, the lone artist struggles with society and experiences many encounters and losses.
Politics and nation, control and power, desire and body, seer and seen - what are the elements shaping these things, the boundaries separating them, and the elements crossing these boundaries? The new vision captured through the eyes of artists living the same times promises to push back the horizons of the artistic genre that is theater.
While pursuing dialogue and ongoing research with Haemamool beginning in November 2016, Okada held workshops and auditions with Thai actors. These actors will be joined by creative members from Thailand and Japan in staging of the premiere performance in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2018, with a subsequent performance planned for Paris (part of official program for Japonismes 2018).
Original novel by: Uthis Haemamool
Born in Kaeng Khoi in Saraburi, the central part of Thailand, in 1975, Uthis Haemamool graduated from Silpakorn University with a degree in painting, sculpture, and printmaking. "The Brotherhood of Kaeng Khoi," his third full novel, was published in 2009 and established his position as an author. He won the Southeast Asian Write Award and the Seven Book Award for it in the same year, and was cited as one of the most important people in Thailand on the CNNGo show. In 2013, he was invited to speak along with the noted Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in "Work in Memory," an artists workshop held by the Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery @KCUA. Based on his interchange with six Japanese artists who also took part in this workshop, he subsequently wrote a medium-length novel titled "Kyoto: Hidden Sense." From 2014 to 2015, Haemamool served as editor-in-chief of "Writer Magazine," a Thai literary magazine, and "Prakod," a literary journal published by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture in the Thai Ministry of Culture. In June 2017, his latest novel "Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession" (The original title: "Rang Khong Pratthana") was published in Thai. In the same year, he held an exhibition in Bangkok with his own drawings and paintings.
Script, Direction: Toshiki Okada
Born in Yokohama in 1973 and formed the theatre company chelfitsch in 1997. Since then he has written and directed all the company's productions, practicing a distinctive methodology for creating plays, and has come to be known for his use of hyper-colloquial Japanese and unique choreography. In 2005, his play "Five Days in March" won the prestigious 49th Kishida Drama Award, and "Air Conditioner" was a finalist at the Toyota Choreography Awards 2005. In February 2007 his collection of novels "The End of the Special Time We Were Allowed" debuted and was awarded the Oe Kenzaburo Prize. While his stories and plays continue to be published in Japan, his works have also been translated into many languages and published abroad. In 2016, he began a commission to direct works in a repertory program at the Munich Kammerspiele, one of foremost public theaters in Germany, for three consecutive seasons.
Scenography: Yuya Tsukahara
Born in Kyoto in 1979, graduated the art course of the Literary Research Dept. of Kwansei Gakuin University in 2004. He currently lives in Osaka. In 2006 Tsukahara formed the unit "contact Gonzo" with Masaru Kakio in Osaka. The unit began performing in parks or on the streets in an improvisational style of physical contact that explored what they termed "Philosophy of pain, technique of contact." As solo projects, he directed "KOBE-Asia Contemporary Dance Festival" presented by NPO DANCE BOX and performance program of "Tokyo Art Meeting V Seeking New Genealogies−Bodies / Leaps / Traces" held at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2014. From 2015, he had been presented performance "Trilogy for Nukamuri Jamipos my future friend" for 3 years at the performance project "PLAY" started from 2014 at Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art. From 2011 to 2018, he served as a fellow of The Saison Foundation.
Assistant Director: Wichaya Artamat
Born in 1985, Wichaya started working in theater after graduating from the Film Department, Thammasat University, as a project coordinator for Bangkok Theatre Festival 2008. He joined New Theatre Society in 2009, during which he grew to become a director recognised for various experimental forms and unconventional theatrical approach. Wichaya is especially interested in exploring how the society remembers and unremembers its history through certain calendar days, alongside collaborating with people from diverse creative disciplines. He co-founded For What Theatre in 2015 as a platform to question current social happenings as well as the theater form itself. His works "In Ther's View: a Documentary Theatre" and "Three Days in May" were awarded Best Play by the International Association of Theatre Critics Thailand Centre (IATC) in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Cast: Performers selected through auditions in Bangkok.
*A special website for "Pratthana - A Portrait of Possession" will open around June 2018!
Bangkok [World Premiere]
Japonismes2018 Official Website