“Horses”, the opening work of the second BICT fest, is both a surprise and a good omen of what’s to come
WHILE THAILAND will soon play host to three art biennales– the first ever held here – there remains only one biannual international children’s theatre festival in the country. This clearly proves the lack of support for children’s performing arts, a tool that helps them develop into quality adults, and reminds us of the sad fact that here the focus is on talent shows and competitions.
At the opening ceremony of the second biannual Bangkok International Children’s Theatre Festival on the first floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), part of BACC’s seventh annual Performative Art Festival (PAF), last Thursday, audiences saw plenty of logos of cultural and educational partners but few of supporters on the poster backdrop. Despite this, festival director Adjjima Na Patalung, and her team at Arts on Location and Democrazy Theatre Studio have managed to bring in performances, artists, scholars and producers from nine countries.
In just seven days, Kabinet K managed to create a performance worthy to raise the curtain of the BICT Fest at BACC. Photos/Deun Chongmankhong
In her opening speech, Adjjima noted that as the festival puts emphasis on the process, rather than product, the show that we were about to watch was a work developed from a seven-day workshop – hardly the usual curtain raiser for any performing arts festival.
Later, when we moved to the fourth floor studio, Adjjima introduced the Belgian choreographer Joke Laureyns, who’s part of Ghent-based company Kabinet K. She described the concept of “Horses” as an “intense sharing” rather than a “performance”. The work premiered in 2016 and toured many European cities following five months of creation and rehearsals, and Laureyns applied this intense sharing to six adult and six children performers here in Bangkok.
Forty-five minutes later and most audience members would agree that she was being humble. It was a risk well taken for the festival, and the Thai version of “Horses” didn’t look like a work from a seven-day workshop at all. Centred on the theme of trust through physical movements, professional dancers and children engaged in a variety of movements and at various paces set to original music. It was also proof that to enjoy dance, kids don’t necessarily have to just watch music videos and copy their movements then perform in a dance competition in a department store.
Yet the number of adults in the audience far surpassed the kids at this opening show – perhaps because it was weekday evening –and a boy in front of me fell asleep after 20 minutes, allowing me a full view of the work. I found myself wishing that, since the original version was presented with a live music performance, Thai musicians, composers or sound designers able to work in such a limited time, could have participated in this Thailand-Belgium collaboration, thus adding to the local input.
And since I cannot take my four-legged son to any of BICT Fest’s programmes, I replicated some of the dance movements in our midnight playtime to prove that we also have trust in one another.
But as neither of us are dancers and he weighs 28 kilos, his facial reaction read, “Hey, wouldn’t you rather have a human son instead of me?”
OFF WITH THOSE SMARTPHONES
The “Bangkok International Children’s Theatre Festival 2018” runs through May 27 at BACC (BTS: National Stadium), Chulalongkorn University (BTS: Siam) and Creative Industries (at M Theatre, on New Phetchaburi Road, between Thonglor and Ekamai).
It features performances, workshops, talks and forums.
For more details and ticket reservations, visit www.BICTfest.com and Facebook.com/BICTfest, call (081) 441 5718, or email BICTfest@gmail.com.