Beijing opera. The theme tune for Father Ted. Adrian Curtin’s haiku. Korean traditional dance. Irish folk music. Bach. Cathleen ni Houlihan….
A second day of contrasts and diversity. The gathered ensemble of Irish, Singaporean Chinese, South Korean and American practitioners unpack and display ideas, sounds, music and influences, informed by certain themes from Genet’s The Maids. Jeungsook Yoo shows a courtesan dance from Korean traditional dance, Jing Okorn-Kuo sings the maiden song from Beijing Opera, Regina Crowley shares a Dolores Keane folk song…. all representations of a kind of ‘Madam’ – the beautiful, privileged one from our different cultures.
Again, I am astonished and thankful for the ease with which we collaborate. But it’s not by chance. The shared vocabulary in the psychophysical approach to actor training which director Phillip Zarrilli has developed, using T’ai Chi and Kalaripayyattu helps. All five performers have trained with Phillip over many years.
‘It’s a mode of being, of operation we share,’ Sunhee Kim says.
‘But the bottom line is the work,’ Jing adds. ‘It’s a great group of people who walk in to do the work. Having said that, Phillip’s training gives us tools to stay within that work, to deal with the ups and downs – and there always will be ups and downs.’
‘You’re grounded,’ Sunhee continues. ‘The training gives you a grounding and if you’re grounded, you can be moved by other dynamic. If you don’t have a sense of solid ground, you cannot be adventurous, because you’ll be scared about where you’ll end up. Having a practice makes you freer; you’re not rigid.’