Just recently, I wrote about visiting Macau for the Macao Arts Festival, which is in its 26th edition this year. Running with the theme “Encounter”, it represents an attempt to explore the linguistic diversity of the performing arts and to break through language restrictions.
Throughout May, 30 acts and visual exhibitions have been ongoing, adding up to over 100 activities held at various locations around Macau. Aside from being nurtured in culture and arts, the outreach programmes hosted offer the audience a chance to interact directly with the performing groups to understand the concept behind their ideas and creations.
Besides showcasing local talent, the festival also presented a platform for international artists to demonstrate world-class works to learn and grow, while perceiving the different cultures’ features and nuances. This year, the international artists hailed from countries like France, Switzerland, Taiwan and Germany, among others.
On the 8th and 9th of May, I got to witness two international performances at the Macao Arts Festival, both across contrasting spectrums. Find out more below:
Staged at the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris in year 1999, The Suit is an adaptation of talented author Can Themba’s short story, wrote in the 1960s in South Africa when it was dominated by apartheid. Besides being adapted for the stage and being premiered at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, The Suit was also translated into French and toured to great acclaim for three years, before being presented in English, its original language, and with live music.
This bittersweet fable is about a young wife (Mathilda) who gets caught being unfaithful to her husband (Philomen) with another man who leaves his suit behind at the couple’s home. The husband then decides to punish his wayward wife by forcing her to treat the inanimate suit as if it is alive and a house guest. With an unconventional burden to carry, the wife eventually dies of humiliation.
Flawlessly projected, this story of infidelity and punishment carries an even bigger motif in the background: humiliation and honour. During the apartheid era, racial oppression and social unrest was evident, leaving Philomen in humiliation. With the sanctity of his marriage trampled on and in rage, he takes out the humiliation on his wife in a cruel manner, leaving her in suffering.
This contemporary theatre piece presented simple aesthetics that employed a clever use of space and props, diversifying one space into many. With simple and understated props paired with the well-thought-out fluidity of the actors on stage, the different settings and scenes are clearly distinguished, making it very easy to interpret.
As a lover of theatre myself, I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of The Suit. Its amusing stage interaction and impeccable speech enunciation, paired with the live accompaniment of guitar, piano and trumpet, as well as the occasional powerful yet modulated vocals, was indeed very commendable. Dramatic, dark and intense, yet simple, pure and delightful to watch, The Suit is certainly a winner in my books.
Hailing from Taiwan and choreographed by famed artistic director Wen-Chung Lin, Aerodynamics is an elaborate dance performance by WCdance and an experiment of aerobatics reigniting the infinite fascination of body dynamics versus gravity, inspired by aerodynamics, which is the science that studies the relations between bodies and air currents.
For this unique piece, Wen-Chung Lin carefully observes the details of muscle movements to demonstrate the motion of the body through air, with every muscle fibre tense in a trial against gravity. He translates these movements into the body image of rising, hovering, constant speed, gliding, flipping, floating and so on.
In whole, Aerodynamics uses dancing as a metaphor to express the human desire to overcome gravity, generating infinite imagination of body dynamics. For the first time ever, I witnessed a dance so complex and intriguing, which is perhaps extremely strenuous to put together.
With a brilliant use of space and immaculate chemistry amongst the big group of dancers, the mind-boggling performance was energetic, dynamic and boasts mystifying fluidity. Accompanied by light atmospheric sounds, Aerodynamics gets the audience pondering upon the intricacy of the movement of our own bodies, a topic oddly out of the ordinary.
Visit the official website for the Macao Arts Festival to find out more about upcoming activities. Don’t forget to access the Macau Government Tourist Office website before you plan your travel itinerary to explore the exciting city!