Let’s get TOGETHER on this
Interdisciplinary training is lacking in Thai art education. It’s time for some cross-breeding.
Stage performance provides a huge canvas on which art is created right in front of the audience night after night—along with the opportunity for collaboration among artists from different fields. Artists and audiences around the world are having fun with interdisciplinary performance—though not so much in
Even if these meetings of disparate talents occasionally prove to be an artistic mismatch or aesthetic hodgepodge, it’s still worth a try.
When I was at the Festival d’Avignon in southern
In François Veret’s “Courts-Circuits”, dancers, actors, musicians and circus artists performed alongside video images in a study of “the state of the agitated, confused world without prospects”.
Although it was sensory overload at times, viewers could choose their own focal point and interpretation.
In Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Björn Schmelzer’s “Cezena”, an outdoor concert of 14th-century polyphonic music that began before sunrise, the dancers sang and the singers moved, and sometimes it was quite difficult to differentiate one from the other.
As a result, the concert was pleasing to both eyes and ears and stirred both thought and imagination.
I was also recently on the jury for FIAO—the Nakarin Theatre Creative Live Performance Fund—appraising financial requests for interdisciplinary stage productions.
One request came from students of a well-known high school—none have ever taken proper drama classes but they know very well how to divide their tasks efficiently. They wanted to re-stage their hit play in grander fashion.
The jury appreciated their immense enthusiasm and creativity, so—even though this was clearly not an interdisciplinary project—they now have the chance to present their play on a professional stage, and with the help of a theatre mentor.
By contrast, only two groups of university theatre students submitted proposals, and neither showed any willingness to create something different from what their professors have taught them. Both projects were rejected.
On the professional side, there were many exciting projects that demonstrated the artists’ readiness to experiment and take risks.
A group of improvisational-theatre artists, however, merely proposed projecting the scenery onto the rear wall. The idea doesn’t exactly embrace the potential of multimedia.
This clearly reflects a problem in art education in this country.
Students of theatre, dance, music and visual arts are not encouraged to take classes in any other field of art apart from the one they’re studying. So they only attend art events related to their field.
Also, there aren’t enough art-appreciation classes to build an audience for the future. So, despite the current trend in musical theatre, there aren’t enough artists who can act, sing and dance equally well.
Interdisciplinary performances require artists to work outside their creative frame, and the result is more stimulating for performers and viewers alike. Viewers are drawn to other forms of art and different venues than what they’re used to. They interact with others at the shows and expand their perspective of contemporary art.
If that sounds like a “spectator-development scheme”, it’s indeed another important task for the Culture Ministry.
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Tuesday 6th September, 2011
photos courtesy of Festival d'Avignon
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