The sixth edition of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s (BACC) Performative Art Festival comes to a close this week, finishing with a bang as “Something Missing”, the third and last instalment in the collaboration between South Korea’s Theatre Momggol and our B-Floor Theatre, takes the stage at the fourth floor studio.
B-Floor Theatre’s co-founder and co-artistic director Teerawat “Ka-ge” Mulvilai first met his Korean counterpart Jongyeon Yoon at the “Listen to the Cities” forum, organised by the Korean Cultural Centre Bangkok and the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) almost three years ago, which was designed to introduce Korean and Thai performing artists and producers to each other. Finding they had a lot in common both in terms of dramatic content and theatrical styles, the two hit it off right away – thanks in part to producer Suna Choe who knows both of them very well and acted as a matchmaker.
With additional support from Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Thong Lor Art Space (TLAS), the first version of their collaboration “Something Missing”, directed by Yoon, was staged at TLAS’s first floor studio as part of the Space’s Low Fat Art Fest, during Bangkok Theatre Festival (BTF) 2015. It won two BTF Awards for best movement-based performance and best art direction.
Last November when Bangkok Theatre Festival was cancelled, the second version with the same title plus the subtitle “Rite of Passage”, directed by Ka-ge, was presented at TLAS’s fourth floor studio and rooftop.
Last month at the newly opened KOCCA Testbed 66 in Seoul, the last version of “Something Missing” premiered, and Ka-ge explains, “Both of us agree that the materials we have been researching and discussing in the past two works are sufficient and so this time we’d like to combine them – the first focuses on censorship and the second on cult culture – and work in a more conventional theatre space, as the past two works looked very much like site-specific ones.
“Also, we had only about two weeks to work together on the last two. We were able to pull them off both times because the way we work and our interests are very similar. This year we have more time and that’s thanks also to the additional support we have from our Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC). The fact that Yoon and I took turns directing and assisting in the last two years also helps speed up our collaboration. He led last month’s version and now that we’re back together, I’m taking the lead here.”
Ka-ge adds, “And now that we have more time we’re also learning more about each other’s performance techniques through workshops, instead of jumping right into the work creation process. Theatre Momggol performers have a solid background in corporeal mime; B-Floor is more varied, covering everything from Butoh and Viewpoints to Laban techniques.”
Among the B-Floor members in “Something Missing” is Sasapin “Pupe” Siriwanij who recently received the IATC Thailand Dance and Theatre award for best performance by a female artist.
She adds, “Our two directors [Ka-ge and Yoon] are so similar that they’re like twins who were separated at birth but have now reunited. With the fundamental ideas so similar, the process was really smooth and pleasant. I loved learning Momggol’s training and creative process, the details of which take us out of our comfort zones. This has allowed me to perceive physical theatre and my own body in new ways.
“It’s kind of like acquiring a new dance technique,” she continues.
“We have very similar physical exercises for training, but their details enable me to see the same movement we always do in our own training in a new way. It’s like looking at the same thing through new goggles. With a slightly different approach, you move your head, bust and torso a little differently, and that creates, for me, a deeper understanding of my own body and its capabilities.”
Ka-ge notes, “New to this year’s version is Yoon’s addition of chapters for which he has adapted such well-known literary works as ‘Man of La Mancha’ and ‘Waiting for Godot’ and a Korean folk tale.”
Pupe explains, “It’s his intention to make this work very narrative. It’s interesting to observe how he tries to achieve a clear narrative effect – with clear characterisation and motivations like in a text-based play, for example, but in a completely non-verbal way. B-Floor seldom works with a script-like kind of narrative [‘This is not politics’ is a rare exception], so this time it’s challenging for me and, I think, all the other actors, both Korean and Thai, to experiment together with Yoon and cross back and forth between a script-like mentality and more abstract movements and actions.”
Pupe adds another personal note, “Momggol members are very hard-working and determined and this has inspired me to keep going forward and try harder.”
WHERE TO FIND IT
- “Something Missing” closes out PAF#6 at the fourth floor studio of BACC (BTS: National Stadium station) from tomorrow to Sunday at 7:30pm.
- Dialogue is partly Korean, partly Thai and English surtitles are provided.
- Tickets are Bt600 at the door, Bt 470 for advance transfer and Bt 370 for students.
- Call (094) 494 5104 or [email protected].
- Find out more at www.BFloorTheatre.com and www.Bacc.or.th.