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11•Kuo Pao Kun Devised, again

November 14, 2012

Event: 11•Kuo Pao Kun Devised, Again 再即兴郭宝崑
Run: 1-11 Nov 2012
Venue: Stamford Arts Centre
Devised by: Liu Xiaoyi and cast
Director: Liu Xiaoyi 刘晓义
Cast:Jonathan Lim (林志坚), Catherine Wong (黄慧敏), Goh Guat Kian (吴悦娟), Johnny Ng (黄家强), Su Jun Ying (苏君英), Li Xie (李邪), Jean Ng (黄丽心), Tay Kong Hui (郑光辉), Alvin Chiam (詹煇朕), Peter Sau (苏佳亮)

I have had mixed reactions about site-specific productions, which more often than not, ends in disappointment. However, I’m glad that this was one of the better experiences I’ve had, and agreed by my friend who accompanied me.

Set in the premises of Stamford Arts Centre, the show was conducted in a walkabout manner around the entire site, from the rooftop and corridors, to the rooms and even spilling over to the alley. 2 routes (A & B) were planned and participants were given the option to choose their route at the beginning. We chose Route A, “The Butterfly Knot in My Heart” (《我的心结 都像蝴蝶》).

The actors were commendable in their endurance and intense acting, keeping the audience drawn. The most cringing scene would be when Jonathan Lim was “stitching” his eyes up in the “I Want to Still Be Me” (《我要继续做自己》) scene. The most memorable part for me would be “In Solitude” 《在孤独中》), when we were closed up in a room in pitch darkness, waiting. Then “clang” “clang” “clang”, as Alvin Chiam hit metal against metal, piercing the darkness. The last scene was kind of symbolic with the human butterfly and the cleaning of the writings.
Although Peter Sau didn’t say a word throughout the whole performance, the words he scribbled all over the building were in interesting contradictions like “cowardice” vs “courage”. You might have thought they were random, but they were definitely not.

This show had too many points to remember and recall of which I can’t put all of them down. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that familiar with a lot of KPK’s texts, hence I couldn’t identify the references to them except for a few like “Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral”, “No Parking On Odd Days”? There were also the little personal stories of the actors of Theatre Practice and KPK which brought memories to some, while letting others see.

I think the biggest kudos I would need to give would be to the director. How he managed to pull off such a major coordination between actors and scenes confounds me as 2 separate routes were happening simultaneously with each group watching a fair share of the stories and actors. It made me super curious at what was seen on route B, “This Is Our Time” (《这是我们的时代》). It’s a pity I didn’t have time and also that registration was full, or else I would have gone back another night to find out.

At the end, we were asked “what is the butterfly era?”. What do you think?

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