Sunday, March 21, 2010

REVIEW: Five Days in March by Chelfitsch

I left during the interval.
The Five Days in March by Chelfitsch, a Japanese "company", was part of the 38th Hong Kong Arts Festival. I went to the March 19 evening performance at the Hong Kong Cultural Center Studio Theatre, mainly because I have a friend in town and thought that it would be nice to show her something from the festival. And since I was going to the "On The Waterfront" the following night, I thought that this arts festival play shouldn't be too bad.

I rarely do not finish a performance regardless of how bad it was. I may not stay for the post-performance talk, but I rarely walk out or leave during the interval because no matter how bad the performance, I was actually quite curious to see how many people has left during the interval or how polite the audience was in applauding.

For some reason, the moment the first half of the "performance ended", I just felt that I shouldn't be subjected to any more of it. I would rather have my drink at the Hullet House across the road. Besides, I had already a difficult week listening to people talking non-sense and I don't want to waste anymore time listening to more non-sense!

The "piece", based on the programme notes, "has no real plot or notable incidents occuring". It was supposed to be "an attempt at a serious exploration of present expression". It claimed to "remove the deceptive theatrical element of how skillfully actors can act out a role" and "eliminate the artificiality that always exists to some degree in lines spoken by the actors when they are clearly from a drama-like script".

Right. So what is left in this piece was a group of young people narrating a series of vignettes coupled with some nervous mannerisms. While the vignettes tried to capture the language, sentiments and psychology of a segment of the young Japanese culture, I was left feeling that the medium was a total waste. The company should have just blog it.

Wait. This piece actually won the prestigious 49th Kishida Drama Award. This piece was actually a piece of drama! I may not have any issue with this piece if it was presented in a gallery (read 'free' and no need to pay HK$150) as performance art. In fact, I may actually like it! I might have thought that it was interesting and avant garde.

Interesting. Why would I have different opinions on the same piece if it was presented in a theatre versus if it was presented in a gallery? Perhaps it was the fact I paid HK$150! No, wait. I paid HK$300 for me and my friend! If it happened in a gallery, I would have usually received a beautifully printed or electronic invitation and got in for free.

Yes. The financial tansaction affects the appreciation. A few weeks ago, I went to a gallery and part of the exhibition was a piece of rat shit stuck in the middle of a 2x2ft piece of paper nicely framed with glass. Below the piece of paper was the artist's signature and the series number. There were about 9 or 12 in the series, with different size and shape of rat shit on each piece. I don't mind seeing it, but I will not buy it or even accept it as a gift from the artist. I respect the fact that the artist's needed to express him/herself and needed me to listen. I am doing him/her a favor but dare not ask me to pay!

Contemporary arts are here to test the limit and to explore new ways of expressions. Hopefully, at one point, one of these 'new tests' will prove to be groundbreaking, meaningful and acceptable enough that a demand for it will be created. So, the next time Chelfitsch will perform something, I will be more than willing to be part of the audience for free... if there is nothing else better happening in town.

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