The Japan Foundation, Bangkok:Japanese Contemporary Plays Inspire Thai Theater-goers and Performers

The Japan Foundation, Bangkok

In autumn 2010, two Japanese plays were performed at the Patravadi Theatre in Bangkok, one of the most prominent contemporary theatres in Thailand.

topics_1101_01_01.jpg * Five Days in March by chelfitsch (November 11 (Thu) and 12 (Fri), 2010)

Directed and written by the award-winning writer Toshiki Okada. Five Days in March is the winner of the Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2005 and has been performed in over 20 cities around the world including New York and Paris, to great acclaim. This was the first performance in Thailand.

topics_1101_01_02.jpg * Melody Cup by Tadasu Takamine (November 5 (Fri) and 6 (Sat), 2010)

The collaborative stage featured Thai and Japanese performers, led by the cutting-edge Japanese visual artist Tadasu Takamine. The premier was in 2009 at the AI Hall, Hyogo, Japan, and the original stage was recreated for the performances in Thailand.

Both Five Days in March and Melody Cup were highly acclaimed in Japan and abroad, so with both plays' reputations preceding them, people involved in Thai contemporary theater and theater-goers were looking forward to seeing them. Tickets for four stages in total, two for each play, were completely sold out.

The mission of the Japan Foundation, Bangkok is to promote people-to-people exchange between Thailand and Japan at multiple levels by organizing a variety of projects.

By bringing these two stages to Bangkok, we tried not only to showcase the "very contemporary" theater productions, but also to nurture lasting relationships between the two countries' artists for future projects. The cooperation we received from our wonderful co-organizers in Bangkok, Patravadi Theatre and Chulalongkorn University, was critical in fostering those exchanges and in bridging the two different cultures.

Here are some more detailed reports on the two performances:

* Five Days in March by chelfitsch
The company name 'chelfitsch' was coined by the award-wining writer-director Toshiki Okada. It represents the baby-like disarticulation of the English word "selfish", and is intending to evoke the social and cultural characteristics of contemporary Japan.

Five Days in March is set in the evening before the U.S. declaration of the war on Iraq in 2003, when the encounter of two Japanese hipsters at a rock concert turns into five days of continuous sex. The piece unfolds as actors slip in and out of characters while casually narrating and playing out scenes. Characterized by the very colloquial dialogue and exaggerated choreography, chelfitsch's Five Days in March perfectly captures the irony and impotence felt by the new generation in Japan today.

Apart from the performance and post-show discussion, Mr. Okada shared his thoughts and directorial style with eleven leading artists and directors of Thai theaters at a workshop at Chulalongkorn University on 12th of November. Coordinated by Professor Pawit Mahasarinand of the University, the participants experienced the unique disconnection between words(scripts) and movement in the play. The coordinator and participants reflected afterwards that Mr. Okada's style was totally different from what they had been taught in acting classes, and yet it all worked very impressively. Mr. Okada also said that he was very impressed to see the improvisatory reactions of the Thai participants, and he hoped for a chance to collaborate with them in the future.

topics_1101_01_03.jpg * Melody Cup by Tadasu Takamine
Melody Cup is a groundbreaking stage production directed by visual artist Tadasu Takamine. The performance in Thailand was a reproduction of the stage which premiered at AI Hall, Hyogo in 2009.
Mr, Takamine is known for his use of various media, including performance, film, installation, to sublimate the processes of communication into a new relationship between the self and society.
In Melody Cup, half of the stage was turned into seats for the audience, to let them experience the intimate sight and sounds of the actors. The mix of visual effects, sounds and performers, gave members of the audience the feeling that they had been in and part of a gigantic installation for two hours! The audience from both the fields of visual and performing arts responded favorably to this experimental and exciting dramatic work.

Created as part of "Project for the Future - Thailand + Japan," eleven young artists and performers both from Japan and Thailand were cast for this unique event. Mr. Takamine and his members took up residence at Patravadi Theater for ten days prior to the performance to re-create the stage with Thai artists. In spite of the language barrier, Japanese and Thai artists developed a strong and long-lasting bond between them, with Mr. Takamine at the center, directing and supervising.

This performance is scheduled to be staged again in Yokohama in February 2011. We hope that the artists from both countries will further refine their performance, strengthen their friendships, and return to Thailand in the future.


Page top▲