The West Kowloon Cultural District (West Kowloon) and Grec Festival de Barcelona have co-commissioned Teatro de los Sentidos (Theatre of the Senses) led by Founder and Artistic Director Enrique Vargas and critically-acclaimed Hong Kong director Tang Shu-wing and his company Tang Shu Wing Theatre Studio. This is the first time in its 30-year history that Teatro de los Sentidos has collaborated with another company to create a new work.

Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody - freely inspired by The Art of War by Sunzi tackles the internal conflicts we face, the tensions in our personal relationships, and the current global crises of wars between cities and nations brought on by fear, distrust and misinformation. The work draws inspiration from Chinese classic ‘The Art of War’ by Sunzi, an ancient treatise on military tactics written in the fifth century BC, when many states of what is now China were in constant conflict.

The work is directed by Hong Kong’s Tang Shu-wing and Teatro de los Sentidos’ Arianna Marano, artistic confidante of Enrique Vargas. Vargas, trained in dramaturgy and anthropology, provided critical artistic advice to Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody.

Following the premiere in Barcelona, the production will return to Hong Kong in 2019 at West Kowloon’s new contemporary performance venue, Freespace.

Low Kee Hong, Head of Theatre, Performing Arts at West Kowloon, highlights the role of West Kowloon: “West Kowloon is proud to have co-commissioned this landmark work with the Grec Festival de Barcelona. We are honoured to have the trust of Enrique Vargas and Tang Shu-wing to take this journey to explore and evolve their artistic practice with us. This is not just another cross-cultural collaboration. This is an example of West Kowloon’s commitment to artistic process and creation. At the heart of this co-production is our responsibility to support work that is urgent, relevant and resonant with our time.”

Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody originated in 2015 out of dialogues between Enrique Vargas and Tang Shu-wing during West Kowloon’s International Workshop Festival of Theatre. The two artists share deep interest in Sunzi’s philosophy in ‘The Art of War’.

Enrique Vargas, Founder and Artistic Director of Teatro de los Sentidos talks about the collaboration: “This creation is an emotional moment for me. It signals the possibilities and impact of the sensorial theatre I pioneered so many years ago. Meeting Shu-wing was like finding a philosophical brother on their other side of the world. While our practice may have begun with different mothers, we found common ground to take this leap of faith together and explore the silence that speaks volumes to how we as human beings respond and process conflicts. This collaboration is a comforting reminder that, released from our learned cultural, political and social differences, we are very much the same. This is even more critical given what is happening around us today.”

Our Death Won't Hurt Anybody – freely inspired by The Art of War by Sunzi is featured as part of the 2018 Grec Festival de Barcelona ‘Silk Road Travellers’ itinerary. It presents works that reimagine dialogues between Eastern and Western civilisations encountered along one of the oldest commercial and cultural routes in our global history.

This reimagination explodes common aesthetic and cultural conceptions of what is Asian or European. The work also redefines the artistic collaboration between two distinct companies with very different performative languages. Going beyond a polite negotiation of forms and styles, the combined company of Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody has taken upon themselves to deconstruct, unpack and unlearn their artistic DNA in order to arrive at an expression and experience that is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Tang Shu-wing, Director and Dramaturg of Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody, comments: “The encounter with Enrique’s sensorial language helped me transcend the usual collaboration and exploration of what could be possible in theatrical performance. In this investigation of the human condition, I am particularly grateful to have by my side Enrique Vargas, Arianna Marano and the multi-cultural company of collaborator-performers from Hong Kong and Europe. As we create the experience of Our Death Won’t Hurt Anybody, we feel it is important to give audiences this moment to go beyond themselves and to be a critical part of the work. The production blurs the languages of acting, improvisation, dance, music, installation, audio-visual projections and interaction with audiences in order to create a total environment that brings into sharp confrontation the reality that wars and conflicts demand you adapt, change and question your values and morality which touch both your psyche and your body. This is a durational piece because I think the nature of this creative process justifies such a choice.”

For further information, please visit the website at: https://www.westkowloon.hk/odwha    

Remarks 

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, and will provide twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About the Grec Festival Barcelona
The Grec Festival Barcelona is the main event in the city with theatre, dance, music and circus. It’s a festival with a long history and which in 2018 celebrates its fortieth-two edition. Not only has the Grec become the main cultural attraction of the summer in Barcelona during this time, but also as a reference point in the European festival calendar.

It takes its name from the main festival space, where the inaugural sessions are invariably organized: The Grec Theatre of Montjuïch, an open-air theatre inaugurated during the 1929 Universal Exhibition. The Grec is promoted by the Barcelona City council, which at the same time involves a large number of private entrepreneurs and city developers/promoters who largely organize the shows and assume the production duties. The festival is funded by public money, the contributions of sponsors and ticket sales.

After 40 years of history, the Grec Festival Barcelona has become the leading producer of shows in Catalonia. Its mission is twofold: on the one hand, it gives support to local productions showing some of the best creations from Catalan collectives and artists, and on the other, it wants to be a window that is open to the world which presents from the city some of the most interesting proposals from other countries. Currently, the Festival is, in fact, the city’s main showcase for showing productions from abroad.

Annex

General Information 

Dates: 6-8 July 2018 (Friday to Sunday)
Time: 6:00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (CCCB)
Language: Spanish, Catalan, English and Cantonese, with Catalan surtitles
Ticket: 18€

About the Artists

Tang Shu-wing (Hong Kong)
Director and Dramaturg
Former Dean of the School of Drama of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Tang Shu-wing is a renowned theatre director and educator in Hong Kong. He has 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. He is the Artistic Director of Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio, an Honorary Advisor of Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Hong Kong Dance Company, a member of the Consultation Panel of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and the Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Committee. Tang sees theatre as a way to experience life through self-discovery where the Actor’s body is the primary means of expression of theatrical arts. He is renowned for interpreting dramatic texts with a minimalist aesthetics. He has been dubbed by the media as “Alchemist of Minimalism” and “one of the most talented theatre directors in Hong Kong”. Tang has directed over 50 productions of stage works including drama, dance-theatre and opera, of which Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus 2.0, Thunderstorm, Macbeth, Datong, Antigone, Peach Blossom Fan and Les Contes d’Hoffmann are his essential works of late, and which have all been toured to many cities. Tang’s major awards include three-time Best Director in Hong Kong Drama Awards, l’Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, Award for Arts Achievement (Drama) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service Award, Outstanding Achievement in Direction for Dance of Hong Kong Dance Awards, Best Artist of the Year Award (Drama) of Hong Kong Arts Development Council (2013), Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Lingnan University of Hong Kong.

Enrique Vargas (Barcelona)
Founder and Artistic Director of Teatro de los Sentidos
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 Thread, Oracles, Memory of the Wine, The Echo of the Shadow, the Inhabitants project, Short Exercises in Dying Well, Fermentation 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.

Arianna Marano (Barcelona)
Associate Director and Performer  
Arianna Marano has been a member of Teatro de los Sentidos since 1999, being a co-creator of its shows created from this year on. She is now the artistic coordinator of Teatro de los sentidos. Originally trained as an actress and dancer studying in Paolo Grassi Academy based in Milan she started her career in 1987 with Dario Fo's theatre company. Since 2003 she is working as” clown doctor” in different hospitals in Italy fo Theodora onlus foundation. Simultaneously, she has been directing “Chapiteau” a nice tiny show for children, she has been collaborating with Anna Ruchat and the suisse tv as voice in documentary and with Kidzdream project.