Asian Intercultural Conference (AIC) 2014 is a global gathering of actors, writers, directors, scholars and researchers with an interest in the “Asian Intercultural”.
Within Asia’s diversity are societies, histories and communities that constantly feed theatre; from its teeming transnational cities to regional townships and local villages. The process of making theatre draws upon all our resources, human capacities, faculties and cultures.
This conference seeks to explore and examine those resources, its interactions and interplays, through keynote lectures, work-demonstrations and presentations.
Keynote speakers and panellists include Intercultural Theatre Institute’s co-founder and director, T Sasitharan, and world-renowned theatre practitioners Anuradha Kapur and Phillip B Zarrilli.
Anuradha Kapur, an established theatre director and former director of the National School of Drama (Delhi) who drove the institute’s acting curriculum, has a keen interest in traditional vocabulary in theatre.
Wales-based Phillip Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors in a psychophysical process through Asian martial/meditation arts. A director and performer himself, Zarrilli is also noted for his work with Indian dancers/choreographers.
T Sasitharan, a Cultural Medallion recipient (Singapore’s highest cultural award honouring artistic excellence) is well recognised as an educator, theatre artist, cultural critic and arts advocate. His thought leadership on arts and culture have made a wide impact on the larger community.
1. How would you describe the arts scene in Singapore?
The arts scene in Singapore is now characterised by organisations that are in various stages of development and maturity. The older companies are almost 30 years old. The new ones are barely five years old. Administratively and organisationally, the more established companies across the art forms are approaching levels of stability, albeit not without state subsidy. The ideal of a scene dominated by “sustainable” arts companies is still very far away and, in my opinion, is unattainable. Sustainability is conceivable only in narrow commercial contexts. The kind of artistic work that Singapore produces should be of a range and depth that extends way beyond the merely commercial. Why? Because we have the potential to be a truly great innovative and creative site for new art. This is an accident of history and geography. However if this potential is not realised in the next two decades or so, it will be lost for good and Singapore will be another faceless, homogenised global metropolis like a dozen others in the world. Artist have a duty and responsibility to resist the flattening of cultural differences, the erasure of the local, that is already underway as a result of the very powerful forces of the market and commercialisation. The scene here is caught in the maelstrom of this change even as the state, which unapologetically favours the market, is rapidly streamlining and consolidating the structures of cultural production to serve it’s own agendas of nation-building and economic development.
2. How does ITI contribute to the development of arts and culture in Singapore?
ITI is a training academy, a conservatory for contemporary actor training and theatre to be exact. Its contribution to the Singapore arts scene is directed towards a fault line present in all city art scenes, viz. the need to identify and nurture talent. Cities soak up talent, they are engines that burn off artistic talent at phenomenal rates. Emerging artists are broken, stymied and constricted to fit the shape of the holes that the economy happens to throw up. Some like Damien Hirst are wildly successful at this enterprise. But the reality for most artists is that there is neither time nor space for artistic talent to be trained, for minds to study and and for the imagination to grow before being cast out onto the crucible of unmitigated commerce. ITI affords a few talented actors, who show promise, time and space to do just that – breathe and grow. It also emphasises a pedagogy that is intercultural and multilingual, while being connected to tradition that is firmly plated in the contemporary, in the here and now.
3. Why are you organizing this event?
AIC 2014 is the second in a series of conferences that are tied in with the teaching and training research that ITI is committed to as a conservatory. The ITI curriculum is 14 years old and we have trained five cohorts of students who have graduated to work in theatres all over the world. The conferences provide an opportunity for us to pause a while and take in the full impact of the training and study on our graduates. It gives the graduates and their teachers to meet as equals, as co-creators on the grand stage of world theatre; as makers of new theatre which draws from a common intercultural source.
And who are the speakers and what will they be covering?
The keynote speakers are: Phillip Zarrilli (from US/Wales) and Anuradha Kapur (from India/Delhi).
Zarrilli draws from the diverse world of science and spirit to address how one learns to be sentient – how we learn to understand the world across different cultures. Other speakers and panellists include Andy Ng (Hong Kong), Beto Ruiz (Mexico), Paul Rae (Australia), Nelson Chia (Singapore), Sankar Venkateswaran (India). The full list is available at www.asianintercultural.com.
Ruiz will present how an actor learns from his own body’s wisdom; Rae will discuss cultural creation in light of recent developments in critical theory; Andy Ng demonstrates his method of body-mind training for actors that meld together Noh, Taichi and more.
4. What is the takeaway for the participants?
Demonstrable, practical technical skills, knowledge and, most importantly, inspiration to make new and original intercultural theatre.
5. When is this and how can we sign up?
Asian Intercultural Conference (2014) – New Intercultural Theatre: Methods, Techniques and Strategies of Making Contemporary Theatre – takes place from 25 – 28 Nov 2014, at Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay.
Online registration at $450 (full conference, $50 off); $200 for first day only attendance, $100 for subsequent day attendance now open at www.asianintercultural.com
25 – 28 November 2014
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
Presented by Intercultural Theatre Institute