Keynote Speeches on Contemporary Chinese Theatre, Theatre of Hybrid in India, and an Artist-cum-Ambassador

Beyond words: the Macro Health Crisis Has Shaped Us into Micro Isolated Islands

Nick Rongjun Yu, 09: 05 AM – 09: 50 AM CET, Dec. 8th

The health crisis, de-globalisation movement, differences in ideology, and scientific and technological breakthroughs are leading the world village to disintegrate. Under this collapse, each culture has become ever so desperate to find its own air raid shelter. However, we are also arriving at the point for certain reflections: in this global cultural fortification, to what extent have we been too obsessed to defend our own “tradition” and refuse the potential “integration” with others? In such a contemporary landscape of theatre art, how shall we apply our respective traditions in an effective manner when composing the theatre? And for what reasons that we need to embrace other art forms, traditions, and experiences in the process of theatre-making? Today it is hard for us not to sense that social connections actually isolate us; boundaries and walls are increased in several dimensions; theatre artists become empty nesters as spectators are put quarantined at home. We may hence need to return to the meta-question of what the theatre really is, in order to better understand how to exercise this human ritual – one that confronts the secular, the habits, the memory, and time. (Translated by Wei Arianne Wang)

Theatre of Hybrid: Bridging Cultures, Aesthetics and Disciplines

Assoc. Prof. Deepan Sivaraman, 09: 05 AM – 09: 50 AM CET, Dec. 9th

Contemporary modern Indian theatre is a mix of many theatrical forms and aesthetics as it has evolved over the period of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial cultural situations. The theatre that emerged during the colonial era which was considered ‘modern’ was primarily oratorical and dramatic. Theatre that existed in India prior to the above-mentioned cultural phenomenon was more scenographic, action-based, and interactive.  Following independence, Indian theatre witnessed several attempts to liberate itself from the dominance of literary presence and proscenium setting but theatre in India is still predominantly text-based, representational, and end-on viewing. The kind of theatre I make is an attempt to offer an alternative way of experiencing theatre as a form that I would like to call a contemporary hybrid. The concept of contemporary hybrid has been formulated from the very idea that theatre in general and Indian culture, in particular, is fundamentally hybrid. This speech will be primarily focused on my artistic practice as a contemporary director, scenographer, and curator contextualizing it in this theoretical frame.    


From the Silk Road to the Bridges of Culture and Back: Theatre Festivals, Artistic Exchanges, and Cultural Diplomacy in Post-Pandemic Times

Prof. Octavian Saiu, 16: 00 PM – 16: 45 PM CET, Dec. 9th

For centuries, the Silk Road was the main avenue of exchanges between the East and the West, an extraordinary course that brought economic interests and cultural pursuits together. Without its existence, much of what Asia and Europe discovered about each other’s civilisations would have been significantly delayed. However, this unique model of commerce favoured culture only as an aftermath, a mere consequence whose benefits were regarded as collateral.

These days, we have understood that culture can be the very basis of an international community, as well as the starting point of diplomatic and trade-related conversations with momentous global benefits. Two great examples of this mentality are Wuzhen Theatre Festival and Sibiu International Theatre Festival. Different in so many ways, the two events share a belief in the power of theatre to generate remarkable cultural and economic capital through a broad-spectrum perspective on diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance of otherness.

Focusing on key values promoted by both Wuzhen and Sibiu, this presentation will show how theatre has opened up new possibilities for a genuine dialogue between the East and the West. At the very centre of these platforms is the figure of the artist-cum-ambassador. Particularly from an Asian standpoint, this twofold dimension of making theatre and theatre making cannot, and should not be underestimated. In times of isolation and ongoing social anxiety, in a general context of collective fear and radicalised prejudice, such virtues of the theatrical creation may prove to be more crucial than ever before.