STATES OF CRISIS
The word ‘crisis’ in the online Cambridge dictionary means “a time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering”, “an extreme dangerous or difficult point in a situation”, “a moment during serious illness when there is possibility of suddenly getting better or worse.”
Crisis is related to conflict, and conflict is an important element in theatre. From before Shakespeare up till the present time (and probably extending far into the future), theatre has been composed of episodes of conflict either precipitating to a crisis or in reponse to crisis. And theatrical scripts serve as ‘blueprints’ for manufacturing these crises.
In the past decade, we have witnessed profound changes in all aspects of life, from technological disruptions to political transitions. Often, these changes begin or end in crisis. All the plays selected in Asian Playwrights Meeting 2019 depict how change and crises occur from various local and national perspectives.
The term ‘states of crisis’ could refer to both ‘situations’ of crisis as well as ‘nation-states’ experiencing crisis. Or perhaps even the ‘nation-state’ itself is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy, as global citizens form transnational networks and capital builds global supply chains and bypass local tax regulations.
The seven plays featured in the Asian Playwrights Meeting 2019 present different ‘states of crisis’. Ridhwan Saidi (Malaysia) invents a totalitarian science fiction society, Suguru Yamamoto (Japan) imagines the changing relationship between humans in a future world, Jean Tay (Singapore) looks back to the Asian Economic Crisis of 1997 and Nophand Boonyai (Thailand) writes an ode to Bangkok traffic and nightlife.
Meanwhile, Maria Christina Pangan (the Philippines) portrays the conflicts between communities and the mining industry, Chea Sokyou (Cambodia) depicts changes in Cambodian society through two generations in a family and Ibed Surgana Yuga (Indonesia) revisits dark episodes in history through the story of a family in a Balinese village.
We hope that this selection of plays will offer you a glimpse into the dynamic theatrical scene in the Asian region. As the plays demonstrate, it is a region marked not only by turmoil and trauma, but also promise and reinvention.
Alfian Sa’at, Gunawan Maryanto, Muhammad Abe, Shinta Febriany
Curators, APM 2019