If I…
If I could design a talk session in this festival…

If I could design a talk session in this festival, I would choose the following structures and ask the following questions.

0. Introduction Statement

Performing arts are the art of relationships. Theatre is made of so many uncontrollable elements. On the way of making productions, we sometimes struggle with and hate each other; and, nevertheless, entrust and bet on the incomprehensible others. That’s the only way to say yes to this outrageous world. I’m not moved by skillful technique nor a certain level of quality. Only an existence slipping out of this controlled world touches me.

Imagined encounters

1. “A talk between tyrants
An Imagined Encounter of Thanapol Virulhakul and Ho Tzu Nyen

Thanapol Virulhakul, the director of “Hipster the King”, called the director a tyrant in his performance. Of course, for me it’s intense irony and it reflects this artist’s belief that a director should not have authoritarian leadership. Thanapol Virulhakul started his career from being a dancer. However, getting to know the limitation of a technique-first policy in classical dance, he then started to work with non-professional dancers and actors. In his performance of “Hipster the King”, I felt his interest in the performers’ body, personality and in spontaneous relationships occurring in the theatre space, so I’d like to make him meet with Ho Tzu Nyen.


Ho Tzu Nyen’s performance of “Ten Thousand Tigers” is an elaborately constructed piece. The historical and political story of Malaysia is narrated in many voices with the beautiful metaphors of tiger and water. Set design, lights, sounds, and actors’ bodies are all composed as equivalent materials under the director’s intention. It seemed like a beautiful picture. Yet, honestly speaking, I didn’t understand the core of this production. From which viewpoint and with what stance did this artist speak about Malaysia? And is it necessary to be expressed in the form of performing arts, since I felt no interest in the actors’ performance from the director?

In this regard, I would like to know how Thanapol Virulhakul looks at “Ten Thousand Tigers”, and vice versa. From a talk of these two tyrants having so different interests and policies, we can ask them: “What does directing mean for you?”, “What is the role of performers in your productions?” or “What means performing arts for you?”

2. “How to deal with charm?”
An Imagined Encounter of Thanapol Virulhakul and Kyung Sung Lee

I quite enjoyed “Hipster the King”. When I’m asked to join the performance, I always feel so uncomfortable, but with this production I was willing to stand up and clap my hands. Why? Because the performers have all been very charming and I was smiling from the beginning to the end. However, it might mean that I could stay safe as an audience member and took pleasure by consuming them in some exotic mood. This may be far from Thanapol Virulhakul’s intention, but I also think he knows how their costumes and choreography work to create a friendly atmosphere. What strategy does he pursue with adorable such actors?

Finally, let’s talk about Kyung Sung Lee’s “The Conversations”. In this production the life story of an old lady is performed by three young actors and the old lady herself. She is not a professional actor but Kyung Sung Lee’s former nanny, and really charming. The problem is exactly this. She is so charming that her impression has been outshining the whole production. And as a result, the former half part performed by the young three actors became fainted. There, in the first part of the performance, the distance between two generations is shown through South Korean historical incidents in the old lady’s memory performed by the young actors. I think, it therefore should have comparable strength with the latter half.

In both productions, the directors would carefully observe actors, bring out the best in them and make the most of their nature. Therefore, I would like to hear more about the balance between the actor’s charm and the necessity of the production. Especially it’s difficult to work with non-professional actors. It seems usual for Thanapol to work with non-professionals (non-professional dancers), but for Kyung Sung Lee, it is a special case, he said. So, also about this point, I’d like to hear their notions.


  1. The Conversations are (Not) Over | Seoul Stages, February 8, 2017

    […] a post from June 16, after seeing the performance, director-playwright Kaori Nishio asks how we can deal with the charm […]