Enrique Vargas | Teatro de los SentidosTang Shu-wing | Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio

Enrique Vargas

Photo taken by Alessandro Schinco, 2012

Colombian dramaturge and anthropologist, who with more than 30 years of experience, has developed a poetic language of enormous influence for the contemporary theatre.

He started his way into the world of theatre very early, inventing games in the intricate and labyrinthine coffee plantations, typical of the Andes surroundings where he grew up. Since then, his work of creation was a research of this soul of his childish prohibited games and the development of a sensorial poetic that could fill it with sense. He studied in the Escuela Nacional de Arte Dramático de Bogotá, and after that he studied anthropology in Michigan University, United States. He dedicated 15 years to the research on games, rituals and myths in the Colombian Amazonas. In 1993 he left his classes in the Universidad Nacional de Bogotá, and he continued his research with the creation of theatre works of great international impact, such as Ariadne’s ThreadOraclesMemory of the WineThe Echo of the Shadow, the Inhabitants project, Short Exercises in Dying WellFermentation among the others. Other than being the Artistic director of Teatro de los Sentidos, he directs the Postgraduate Program at the Universidad de Girona called “Poetics of the senses. Sensorial language and poetics of game” and gives lessons in the advanced classes of the School of the Senses in Barcelona.

Teatro de los Sentidos

Teatro de los Sentidos (“Theatre of the Senses”) is a Barcelona-based ensemble of international artists and researchers from various disciplines. It was founded 20 years ago by anthropologist and Artistic Director Enrique Vargas.

Teatro de los Sentidos creates innovative and experiential works of theatre that erase the boundaries between theatre and audience using experimental methods of communication. The spectators are invited to take an active role as they become travellers in a symbolic and oneiric journey. On this journey, the travellers experience various encounters with the performers/inhabitants of the play who accompany and guide them.

Teatro de los Sentidos has developed a philosophy about the sensorial language and the poetics of play. Their approach is based on corporeal and sensorial communication, the importance of play, ancestral traditions, and silence as a necessary condition for communication. Their productions are the fruit of their investigation of the relationship between body memory, sensorial languages and theatrical creation.

The company has produced ten original works so far. The concept and sensorial scripts of these works are specifically adapted to each site of the production. Each production revolves around a question that the ensemble investigates. Thereby, Teatro de los Sentidos creates a sensorial world to frame these questions and to allow the search for answers.

Tang Shu-wing

Photo: Lit Ma

A world-class director, renowned theatre educator and veteran actor, Tang Shu-wing was the former Dean of the School of Drama of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts . Between 1986 and 1992, Tang studied in France where he received training of acting in l’Ecole de la Belle de Mai and his Maîtrise Diplôme in Theatre Studies from the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris , where he later served as an assistant director and actor in Théâtre de la Main d’Or before returning to Hong Kong. He is the current Artistic Director of Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio and also the Head of Programme of the first ever physical theatre training programme in Hong Kong.

Tang’s sources of influence are “theatre of the convention” of Meyerhold, “poor theatre” of Grotowski, Tai Chi and Yoga. For him, theatre is a way to experience life through self-discovery. He believes that physical theatre and minimalist aesthetics are the best ways to realise his vision. His is dubbed “Alchemist of Minimalist Theatre” and “one of the most talented theatre directors of Hong Kong” by the media.

Tang has directed over forty productions of drama, dance and opera. His representative works include Phaedra, Hamlet, Princess Chang Ping, The Exception and the Rule, Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus 2.0, Detention, Thunderstorm, Why Aren’t You Steve Jobs?. His works have been presented in many cities in the world. In 2015, he had direct an opera in Hong Kong Arts Festival in March followed by Macbeth which has been invited to perform in Globe in London with the language of Cantonese and re-run Detention in Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. In September, he will direct the re-run Titus Andronicus 2.0 in Hong Kong.

In 2001, he published Analysis and Reflections on the Theories of Acting of Meyerhold, Life and Death Trilogy: a Theatrical Research. In 2004, The International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong) published a special study on him: The Art of Synthesis: The Theatre World of Tang Shu-wing. Titus Andronicus — Approach in Minimalistic Aesthetics & Physical Theatre and Detention — Out of Curiosity are his latest writings. The former publication demonstrates how Minimalist and Physical Theatre be the artistic approach to create Titus and Titus 2.0 – two influential pieces in Asia.

He is the current Honorary Advisor of the Hong Kong Dance Company and one of the Consultation Panel Members under the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Tang’s major professional awards include Distinguished Interpretative Performance in the 1993 Tashkent International Theatre Festival, Excellent Alternative Performance in the 1993 Hong Kong Drama Awards, Best Actor in a Leading Role in the 2003 Hong Kong Drama Awards, Three times Best Director (2006, 2007 and 2011) in the Hong Kong Drama Awards, Award for Arts Achievement (Drama) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council 2008, Outstanding Production Award of the Hong Kong Dance Awards 2010. Other Awards include Jebsen Fellowship of the Asian Cultural Council 1997, Certificate of Commendation by the Secretary of the Home Affairs Bureau in 2007, l’Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication in 2007 (the first Hong Kong theatre artist having such an honour). In 2010, he received the Next Big Thing Cultural Award of the Muse Magazine. In 2012, he received the Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service Award and also the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Life Award: Arts and Culture Figure of the Year Award by Southern Metropolis Daily of Guangzhou. In April 2013, he received the Outstanding Achievement in Direction for Dance Award of the Hong Kong Dance Awards and the Best Artist of the Year Award (Drama) of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In October 2013, he was awarded Honorary Fellow of Lingnan University of Hong Kong.

Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio

Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, a registered charity, was formerly known as No Man’s Land which was founded in 1996. The more renowned works of No Man’s Land include Three Women in Pearl River Delta (1997), Millennium Autopsy (1999), My Murder Story (1999), The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other (2000), Between Life and Death (2002), Deathwatch (2002) and The Two or Three Ways of Making Love around Sunset (2003). Works of No Man’s Land have been presented in the Henson International Puppet Theatre Festival of New York, San Francisco Ghost Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Macau Fringe Festival and have received a number of awards in the Hong Kong Drama Awards.

In 2009, No Man’s Land was renamed Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, with the mission to bring quality theatre works to wider audience. Being a centre for theatrical research and creation, the Studio is dedicated to promote a better quality of life to the public through their experience in participation of performing arts. Having physical theatre and minimalist aesthetics as its artistic direction, the Studio has a vision to bring new paths to the Hong Kong theatre. It aims at creating long-running productions, showcasing the unique culture of Hong Kong and at the same time exploring potentials to operate independently in the market. We also hope to facilitate cultural exchange, so that the theatre of Hong Kong will be given a proper place on the world stage. The Studio is open to cooperate with any organisations or individuals who share the same vision as ours.

Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio is financially supported by the Springboard Grant under the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and has also established a long-term collaboration with the Hong Kong Arts Centre as its Residential Theatre Company.

The works of the Studio include Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus 2.0, Next Generations (co-production with Drama Box, Singapore), Detention and Thunderstorm. Titus Andronicus was invited to participate in the Globe to Globe Festival at the Shakespeare’s Globe in the London Cultural Olympiad 2012 and became the first Cantonese production ever performed in this theatre, followed by an international tour of Titus Andronicus 2.0 in Fredrikstad (Norway), Wroclaw and Bytom (Poland), Beijing and Taipei whilst Detention, before embarking a 5-cities tour in China, was highly acclaimed by the U.K. media in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012. Thunderstorm, premiered in the New Vision Arts Festival of Hong Kong in October 2012, was performed in Huayi Festival of Arts in Singapore in February 2013 with enthusiastic reception. In 2014, it participated in Kuandu Arts Festival as one of the representatives to Hong Kong Week 2014.

In August 2015, Studio has been invited to premiere Macbeth in Globe and re-run Detention in Edinburgh Fringe Festival respectively. In September 2015, the studio will re-run Titus Andronicus 2.0 in Hong Kong.