What makes contemporary Asian and Asian-Australian performing artists tick? What forms, materials and ideas are they working with, and how? What kinds of responses to their work are they looking for, and how should we make sense of it for ourselves?
From 21-24 February, join a diverse range of featured artists from the first Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts to explore the answers to these questions, and to pose your own. Each lunchtime, artists from different places and practices will be in conversation with local specialists in a lively investigation into the state of contemporary Asian and Asian-Australian arts:
Tuesday 21 February, 12-30pm-1.30pm
Dancer and choreographer Takao Kawaguchi (Japan)
In conversation with dramaturg Lim How Ngean
In his Asia TOPA performance About Kazuo Ohno (Dancehouse, 25-6 February), multimedia performance artist Takao Kawaguchi revisits the iconic performances of butoh legend Ohno, raising questions about the dance form’s defining commitment to impulse and immediacy. In conversation with Malaysian dance dramaturg Lim How Ngean, Kawaguchi will introduce his practice, and reassess the legacy and current state of butoh. Is butoh now – or can it ever be – a thing of the past? What does the future hold for dancers, and dance forms, who strive to perform in the moment?
Wednesday 22 February, 12-30pm-1.30pm
Rapper and MC Aristophanes (Taiwan)
In conversation with Rachel Marsden, University of Melbourne
Aristophanes is a Taipei-based artist, whose striking verbal wordplay, poetry and cutting-edge delivery has seen her rise to the forefront of new sounds emerging out of Taiwan. Her arresting, energetic contribution to the track ‘SCREAM’ on Canadian singer Grimes’s latest album, Art Angels, has brought international attention to her singular style, which toys in playful and challenging ways with female sexuality whilst stretching the expressive boundaries of Mandarin rap. In conversation with contemporary Chinese arts and culture curator and scholar Rachel Marsden, Aristophanes will talk about her experiences of the music industry in Taiwan and China, transcultural collaborations with international musicians and producers, and how her music translates to new audiences in Australia.
Rachel invites the public to submit questions prior to the event via Twitter using @rachmarsden
Thursday 23 February, 12-30pm-1.30pm
Directors and writers from Melbourne Theatre Company’s Cybec Electric playwrighting initiative
In conversation with Chris Mead, Literary Director of the MTC
Cybec Electric is a playwrighting incubator initiative run by the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). To coincide with Asia TOPA, directors from Malaysia and China have been working with numerous Asian-Australian writers to develop new work. In this conversation, Chris Mead, Literary Director of the MTC, will join with Cybec Electric artists to discuss the process of writing for the stage, with a particular focus on what script development and collaboration with directors and other theatre artists can bring to the work.
Friday 24 February, 12-30pm-1.30pm
Dancer-choreographers and curators of the XO State performance series Eisa Jocson (Philippines) and Gideon Obarzanek (Australia)
In conversation with Paul Rae, University of Melbourne.
Major international performer-choreographers in their own right, during Asia TOPA, Eisa Jocson and Gideon Obarzanek are joining forces both to present their own work, and to curate XO State, a series of dance, music and theatre performances that provide a dark and compelling underground to the main festival program. In conversation with theatre scholar Paul Rae, Eisa and Gideon will explore what motivates them in their own work, as well as the thinking underpinning the XO State project, and their prognosis for the future of Asian and Australian contemporary performance.
Admission: Free, booking essential via Eventbrite