A Collaboration Project between Uthis Haemamool and Toshiki Okada “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession “
*A special website for “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession” will open around June 2018!
About the piece
This international collaboration project grew out of an encounter of two artists, both born in the 1970s: Uthis Haemamool and Toshiki Okada. Haemamool is a novelist on the leading edge of contemporary Thai literature, and has received the Southeast Asian Write Award and the Seven Book Award. Okada is a Japanese playwright and novelist, and is also known as the director of the theatrical company chelfitsch. In this project, the latest novel by Haemamool “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession” (titled “Rang Khong Pratthana” in Thai), which was published in June 2017, is being adapted for the stage under the direction of Okada. Both Haemamool and Okada continue to create works reflecting keen insights into contemporary society, and the project rests on the fusion of their perspectives as artists. It questions the various borderlines born of the nation-state framework.
Haemamool’s novel revolves around a single artist as its protagonist. It depicts his life and retraces his love life from the early 1990s until the present. At the same time, it overlays the flow of history and political unrest in Thailand, where the artist lives. The project came about because of Okada’s strong empathy with this outline of the novel. While portraying the life of a lone artist, Okada’s play is being constructed by superimposing nation, body, and sexual conduct as well as political turmoil, using a methodology unique to theater.
One must also not forget the existence of Yuya Tsukahara, who is collaborating with Okada for the first time in the role of scenographer. He is the foremost member of contact Gonzo, which is internationally active and known for its many brawling performances and installations under the banner of “philosophy of pain, technique of contact.” His participation will presumably accelerate the process of shedding the skin of the original novel and morphing into a distinctive performance.
One key point about the collaboration is that Haemamool, Okada, and each member of the project team are all active as artists, and that the protagonist of the work likewise lives the same age as an artist. While engaging in creative exploration in his artistic activities and within the political environment surrounding them, the lone artist struggles with society and experiences many encounters and losses.
Politics and nation, control and power, desire and body, seer and seen – what are the elements shaping these things, the boundaries separating them, and the elements crossing these boundaries? The new vision captured through the eyes of artists living the same times promises to push back the horizons of the artistic genre that is theater.
While pursuing dialogue and ongoing research with Haemamool beginning in November 2016, Okada held workshops and auditions with Thai actors. These actors will be joined by creative members from Thailand and Japan in staging of the premiere performance in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2018, with a subsequent performance planned for Paris.
Japan Foundation Asia Center “ASIA HUNDREDS”
UTHIS HAEMAMOOL――From Individual-oriented Stories to Expansive Art
Bangkok [World Premiere]
22nd – 26th Aug. 2018
@ Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
13th – 16th Dec. 2018
@ Centre Pompidou (Festival d’Automne à Paris / Japonismes 2018)
Original novel by: Uthis Haemamool
Script, Direction: Toshiki Okada
Scenography: Yuya Tsukahara
Assistant Director: Wichaya Artamat
Cast: Performers selected through auditions in Bangkok.
Organized by: The Japan Foundation Asia Center, precog co.,LTD., chelfitsch
Supported by: Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), The Saison Foundation
Organized by: Japan Foundation, Centre Pompidou
Coorganized by: Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), Festival d’Automne à Paris
Produced by: The Japan Foundation Asia Center, precog co.,LTD., chelfitsch
Funded by: The Saison Foundation