People of Ari hosted The Chrysalis by Copter Thongmai at PoA White Box, Yellow Lane on Sunday 30 October 2022. This solo performance was featured as the last Open Stage showcase in October.
Copter applied physical theatre techniques such as contemporary dance and butoh to express the emotional turmoil of living in a foreign country. He used self-recorded sounds and visual footage in the performance. There was also an insightful Q&A session where the artist and the audience exchanged thoughts about the performance and the working process.
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ABOUT THE ARTIST
Copter Thongmai graduated from The Department of Acting and Directing for Cinema, Srinakharinwirot University. After graduation, he started his career as an assistant director and acting coach. He has also worked as an actor for short films and TV commercials.
He decided to move to Australia in early 2020 to take more acting classes and explore different acting techniques. He intended to stay for one year and come back to Thailand. His stay was however prolonged to three years when the pandemic hit. The Chrysalis was Copter’s first solo performance to capture the emotional journey that he experienced during those three years, told through physical movements, film, and voiceover that he created himself.
The Chrysalis is inspired by a dream about a butterfly’s life cycle that Copter had while living in Australia. After that night he felt like he had found a personal connection to the metamorphosis. Copter explored the idea through body movements, props, and multimedia. “I thought that if I explore more about this cycle, it can actually relate to being human. We started from zero when we were born, then we grow up and change every time we learn something new. It’s all about experimenting,” he explained. “If I break through the chrysalis, the environment that’s been covering me since I was born, what’s gonna happen? How do I break through and be fearless and more confident to be myself?”
This solo performance addressed his journey in a foreign country, told in parallel with fragments of his past growing up in Thailand. “I moved to Australia and I felt like I didn’t belong there. I came back to Thailand in early October and I feel like I don’t belong here either. I want to explore what is the place for me to call home physically and mentally,” said the solo performer.
Copter’s biggest challenge in creating this piece was the experimental aspect of it. He has become accustomed to being in control with a script, blocking, and direction. The Chrysalis was his first solo performance where he moved freely and followed his emotions, rather than fixed choreography. “I just have a little bit of the framework that I want, later on I just explore, I want to see how I feel and see how the audience feels as well.”