I was in Nanjing recently and was astonished by Bian lian 变脸. The face changing, or “bian lian” in Chinese, is an important aspect of Chinese Sichuan opera. Performers wave their arms and twist their heads, and their painted masks change repeatedly.
I am a great fan of masks in performance, and this is a wonderful clip (courtesy of my colleague John) of some exquisite masks made by Wladysław Teodor Benda who was a Polish-American painter, illustrator, and designer. He was an accomplished mask maker and costume designer. His sculpted, papier-mache face masks were used in plays and dances and often in his own paintings and illustrations. In this film from 1932, he is demonstrating some of his creation
I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.
Havel was one of the world statesmen of 20th Century theatre. If you don’t know who he is, what he did or what he wrote, you should!
If you ever find yourself in Hanoi, go see Nhà hát Múa rối Thăng Long. Really interesting, with so much history and a real taste of the performance culture of an incredible people.
There are 3 links below, all useful, but the blog Vietnam, Water and Puppets is an excellent source of information.
And a few videos to put you in the picture
I meet this amazing artist, Ghaffar Pourazar, last year. He is an Iranian born, British raised former computer animator turned master of Beijing Opera. He is the first and only ‘Westerner’ to train in the art and has subsequently created the first bilingual version of the opera, Monkey King, as well as adapting Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Beijing opera stage. The links are various, but the first is to the International Centre for Beijing Opera which Ghaffar founded.
And another tech meets performance…..
Using animation, projections and her own moving shadow, Miwa Matreyek performs a gorgeous, meditative piece about inner and outer discovery. Take a quiet 10 minutes and dive in. With music from Anna Oxygen, Mirah, Caroline Lufkin and Mileece.
Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies
Another great example of technology meets live theatre, this time from Japan. Quite extraordinary.
“Puppets always have to try to be alive,” says Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company, a gloriously ambitious troupe of human and wooden actors. Beginning with the tale of a hyena’s subtle paw, puppeteers Kohler and Basil Jones build to the story of their latest astonishment: the wonderfully life-like Joey, the War Horse, who trots (and gallops) convincingly onto the TED stage.
Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, of Handspring Puppet Company, bring the emotional complexity of animals to the stage with their life-size puppets. Their latest triumph: “War Horse.”
This is stunning. The performers are from the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.
I am a great fan of this actor. You may well recognise her.
Writer and actor Anna Deavere Smith gives life to author Studs Terkel, convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean shopkeeper and a bull rider, excerpts from her solo show “On the Road: A Search for American Character.”
Anna Deavere Smith’s ground-breaking solo shows blur the lines between theatre and journalism, using text from real-life encounters to create gripping portraits.