Johnny Tam

Theatre director, art director of the Macao Experimental Theatre, has been living and working in Shanghai and Berlin. Representative works from these years are Mr. Shi and His Lover and Lungs.

BOK at Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama

04 2020 | Issue 38

Every year, TPAM (Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting) held in February in Yokohama will attract artists, theatre companies and investors from different parts of Asia. The attendees are mostly producers from the industry. There are also people like me who are both executive producer and content creator from the theatre play sector signing up for participating in the event. Our goal is to see as many good performances with potential as possible in a short time, to engage in cultural exchange between regions, make contacts and seek cooperation.


This year is the second time for BOK to attend TPAM. Different from last year, the venue we were using was specifically reserved for showcasing productions from Macao. This means that the entire programme was more like a special art project that allows the audience to have a glimpse of the independent artists’ experience and life in Macao. This project showcases productions from the perspective of a region, no longer through a fragmented perspective. This year BOK teamed up with Point View Art Association to make “Made-in-Macao”, a themed project that showed productions that set their stories in Macao to the audience at TPAM. The four productions that were shown at TPAM have distinctive features but also share some common grounds.


Experimenting with sound


Two years ago, local acappella band Water Singers brought BOK’s 2017 production Picturesque to TPAM. Picturesque is an experimental production created in a theatre. A musical work of mine, Mr Shi and His Lover, which was made earlier than Picturesque, also attended TPAM in 2017. Fast forward to this year, the four productions that were shown at TPAM are all performances done through live music. This reflects the production trend in Macao to some extent. More artists working with sound and music are entering the theatre scene as more local theatres are paying more attention to having original sound effect and music. Sound experiment has also become an important way for directors, choreographers and actors to innovate and make new contents.



Cross-cultural performances


Every time we go abroad for exchange opportunities, we are provided with a chance to have a new understanding of our own identity and culture. It is also a way for us to test our productions’ ability to catch the attention of different audiences on an international platform and whether our productions can meet our expectations. The productions at this year’s TPAM “Made-in-Macao” are gateways for the audience to have a cross-cultural adventure. In previous years, we paid attention to whether the production teams were consisted entirely of local talents to ensure they were 100% made-in-Macao. This year has been different. We care more about social issues and art-related matter that are happening around the world. That’s why we could see themes such as reflection on war, industrialisation and childhood anxiety in the performances. These productions were made by professional talents from different cultural backgrounds, who got together to paint a picture of what the seemingly prosperous Macao looks like in different people’s eyes.


As a local theatre production incubator, BOK has spent lots of efforts on connecting artists from different neighbouring regions and facilitating exchange. I believe we need a more diverse environment and spaces in Macao to help local productions thrive. We cannot simply showcase our work on the same platform over and over again. We need to find the right expression that is more flexible and powerful and in line with modern lifestyle when showing our works to the audience. We are also looking forward to productions from Macao winning more achievements in Asia in the coming future.