Open Stage performance Missed You took place on Saturday 17 September at PoA White Box, Yellow Lane. This solo piece was performed by Kwin Bhichitkul and directed by Sirimas Yodsuwan. The artists aim to explore the emotional aftermath of enforced disappearances of political refugees in Thailand.
Kwin played an unnamed character facing the disappearance of someone close to him. Throughout the performance, the audience witnessed his struggle to find answers. The character went through different emotional stages, from confusion to hope, and eventually, to the fear of danger cast upon those who search for the truth.
This story was told using very few spoken words, but with exaggerated actions, body movements, and props such as a map, post-it notes, missing person posters, and an empty lawn chair. By the time the performance ended, many of these props were left scattered around the room for audience members to take a closer look and investigate.
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ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Sirimas Yodsuwan described herself as a “multitasking freelancer” due to her various professional pursuits. She, however, always finds herself coming back to her true passion for theatre, no matter where life leads her. She is one of the founders of Scarlette Theatre, a theatre company actively producing stage plays and live performances in Bangkok for the last seven years. Sirimas has directed a number of the group’s most notable productions such as Error 666, Error 668, and WALL. Plays that she writes or directs are mainly focused on sociopolitical issues, especially surrounding social justice and equality. Her past directing experiences also include Top Girls by Thammasat University, Spring Awakening the Musical by Conservatory of Music, Rangsit University (directing team), and School Tales by Netflix (directing team).
Kwin Bhichitkul is interested in various styles of live performances, including spoken play, physical theatre, and conceptual performance. He has been actively involved in the theatre scene for the past six years. His self-produced performances are often inspired by true events in society, or from personal experience.
His notable works include There, You Go (2022) by Sliding Elbow Studio and Dee-ng Theatre; The Two Monsters (2021); The Play of Farung Farang Country (2020) by Bangkok Theatre network; and San Dan Ka (2018) by B-Floor Theatre. Kwin also has a few upcoming projects this year. He is participating in Fish Market, a performance by Surachai Petsangrot, as an actor and choreographer. He is also working in collaboration with House of Mask and Mime to perform as a part of the upcoming Bangkok Theatre Festival in November 2022.
“Every time I read the news about these cases, I thought about the living, breathing people who were still around to deal with all of it,” Sirimas said. “I started to wonder how hard it would be to overcome. When things happened so abruptly, what arrangements were needed? What did they have to carry emotionally while making those arrangements?”
The artists believe that the issue concerns everyone, even if they haven't experienced this kind of loss personally. “I became frightened when I read about these things. It affects me and my choice to take actions. I couldn’t help thinking about my mother’s and grandmother’s faces, because if anything happens to me, it’s them that will be left behind,” Sirimas said. “I believe that if we let this [enforced disappearances] continue, we’re never going anywhere as a society, so for me it’s tied to every moment of our daily lives, every hour of the day,” Kwin added.
The performance is not strictly choreographed, but rather devised using both the director’s and the performer’s inputs. Sirimas would offer some acting choices for Kwin to explore during rehearsals, gradually adding specific elements to the piece. Kwin is usually known for his movement-based pieces. This work-in-progress is however not limited to physical theatre conventions. “I didn’t start crafting this piece by pinning it as movement-based, I started with only the internal states of my character. If it’s going to end up including some movements, I am fine with that too,” said the solo performer.
Both Sirimas and Kwin shared that this project was challenging to them in many ways due to the sensitive subject at hand. They found themselves trying to imagine an unimaginable pain, with the hope to create awareness and sympathy. “The things that this character had to face are very specific and difficult to compare with anything else. How do I make myself believe that it truly happened to me? What personal experience can I apply to relate myself to the character? This is my challenge,” said Kwin.
“I am confident that I can never fully understand what these people went through. I sometimes question if we had any right at all to tell their stories. I’m not even sure if these occurrences will cease even if I send the message a hundred more times, but I still want to try. I just want people to know that we are doing this with the most respect in our hearts,” said Sirimas