Last week I had an opportunity to participate in the Asian Theatre for Young Audiences (Asian TYA) Networking Programme organized by ricca ricca *festa 2017 and Japan Foundation Asia Centre in Okinawa, Japan. This year is the second time for me, as a delegate from the Bangkok International Children’s Theatre Festival (BICT Fest), Thailand. Since last year when I came to the festival for the first time, I felt that a new friendship had been formed. Everything I experienced at ricca ricca *festa 2016 was very interesting, enjoyable and exciting. I got to bring the great experience back to my country. This is the reason that brought me back to Okinawa again. This year, the atmosphere at the festival was still the same but much more familiar, and I felt more grown up professionally and more connected with the activities.
The important aspect this year, as mentioned earlier, was the fact that I had an opportunity to take part in the Asian TYA Networking Programme, during which I got to discuss, exchange perspectives and share my experience with peers from Southeast Asia. We also had post show discussions with artists, and discussions amongst ourselves about the performances we saw together. I really enjoyed this part, as we always had great and productive conversations. These sessions encouraged me to share my thoughts and raise questions about my perspective and aesthetics. I got to hear different opinions, and sometimes share the same views as others. Best of all, I got to see a great variety of performances.
One of my favorite performances was “Goodbye, Mr. Muffin”. It was very impressive and enjoyable. It is a small and simple show, but at the same time there is a lot of subtle yet intriguing aspects. One interesting aspect from the performance is that it talks about “death”. Normally we as adults or parents avoid talking about death with children even if death is something that we will all confront at one point in our lives. In a daily life, we all lose something or something is gone, for example losing a mobile phone or a pet dog, etc. It makes me wonder how we might start discussing the topic about “loss” with children. The questions are, as artists, how do we approach and present “death” as a theme in our works, how do we respond to the children’s reaction, what is a suitable age, or do we just let the children learn by themselves as they grow up. Death is universal, yet a taboo topic to present in TYA. The discussion also led to the topic about taboo and censorship in TYA works. I think that we should cherish an opportunity to exchange and share our views about life, even though we came from different backgrounds and contexts. Maybe we do not have the answer to all the world’s troubles but at least through this kind of meetings and exchanging of perspectives, we connect, and hopefully we could one day find the solution together, I believe.