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Art Projects





Buddha my Body - A palimpsest
An international collaboration
Tony Yap Company (Australia)
Theatre Nottle (Sth Korea)
Surya Kencana (Indonesia)

"Without desire, there is no going and coming. Without going and coming, there is no death and birth. Without death and birth, there is no this world and the other world or the world between them. All the sadness ends at this moment."
- Theatre Nottle Won Young-Oh

in Melbourne
in Seoul 
Director's Note
" The Buddha My Body - a Palimpsest" is an oriental subject about body and memory. What is the body without any memory? This work is also a research about the body with memory and the body without memory.
The space on stage is of daily lives and of memories, and of thought at the same time. The characters float in the memories, or wander in the daily lives. They all waft in and out of the memories. My memories, her memories, mother's memories, and the man's memories, engaging with one another, try to find the origin of existence.
This work is not a play or aesthetic exercise. This work is just a question about the existence that was forgotten in the daily lives and the things beyond the existence. The dramatic text of the author Hyun-Woo Kim transforms into a spatial language of body and sound. - Won Young-Oh

Buddha my Body - A palimpsest
Performance at fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne, Australia August 2009
Supported by Australia Council of the Arts, City of Melbourne, Korean Arts Council, Korea Foundation and Multicultural Arts Victoria.

tyc emphasises a continuity of engagement throughthe evolution of our collaborative process. We are independent artists committed to the creation of a form that is multi-modal and Eastern-focussed at its heart. We are a theatre of the small that is constantly readdressing the intricate and detailed works of the body, the eye and the ear and foster and continue artistic and creative collaborations in the Asian region.

Tony Yap remains committed to the exploration and creation of an individual dance theatre language that is informed by psycho-physical research, Asian shamanistic trance dance and Butoh. There is a constant theme of a search to bridge the gap between body and mind, man and world, presented as abstractions of 'presence'.

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey's music for this production arises from the particularity of the voice and remnants of observed ritual in Munmak, Yoyga and Melbourne, appropriations that are inseparable from the
companies' process in this project. We have imagined a musical language which reflects the distance and intimacy of sound in environments. With our thanks to the team for their inspiration.

Naomi Ota creates spatial installation to visualise the sense of an in- between world that performers can inhabit. Locally-collected plants are utilised as a symbolic "tree", contextual for three different places.

The Creative Team:
Director: Won Young-Oh
Performers: Lee Jee-Hyun, Agung Gunawan, Lim So-Young, Lee Eun-A, Yun Sang-Don, Eom Ju-Young, Tony Yap
Composers/Musicians: Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey
Installation Artist: Naomi Ota
Writer: Kim Hyun-Woo
Lighting Designer: Yoon Kwang-Duk


A palimpsest refers to a parchment or the like in which the marks of earlier writing on it is still legible. Playing with layers of memory and existentialist questions, The Buddha My Body - A Palimpsest is a beautifully constructed exploration of birth and death which revolves around the death of a mother figure. A three-way international dance collaboration, The Buddha My Body is the work of South Korean based Nottle Theatre Company, Melbourne based tyc (Tony Yap Company) and Indonesian based Surya Kencana.
Fortyfivedownstairs provided the perfect venue for the performance. The last time we were in there the space revealed a carnivalesque cabaret set-up for The Burlesque Hour. This time we descended into the stark, sparse wintry grounds envisioned by visual artist Naomi Ota; an excellent setting for the performance which was magnified by the clever lighting design by Yoon Kwang-Duk and the sensitive soundscape by Madeleine Flynne and Tim Humphreys.

The artists in the performance - Lee Jee-Hyun, Agung Gunawan, Lim So-Young, Lee Eun-A, Yun Sang-Don, Eom Ju-Young and Tony Yap demonstrated remarkable technical finesse and extraordinary talent. The lean and sinewy Agung Gunawan from Surya Kencana was captivating as he contorted into beautiful shapes with an embodied intensity. Tony Yap exuded excellent mastery and control in his dance; from playing a man in mourning, to a baby in and out of the womb, Yap was a mesmerizing dancer. As an ensemble, the performers' relationship to the space and one another was cohesive, energetic and magnetic, and there was a sense of profound intimacy in the performance space. The ensemble as a whole moved with a subtlety and intensity which was breathtaking, while the performance itself unraveled with moments of alarming beauty and penetrating insight.

In exploring mortality in the performance, The Buddha My Body eschewed conventional narrative in favour of abstraction, surreality and the absurd. A forest spirit dances in the outskirts of a forest, a cacophony of pregnant men and women go into labour pains and scream in agony as the group of them give birth, a woman gives birth to a fully grown man and dies. The images created were bizarre, occupying a space of symbols and dreams. There were times, however, when the narrative of the performance was difficult to follow, especially in reference to the synopsis provided in the program. This could have had the potential to alienate the audience from the performance, however it seemed to be a quality of the performance that the audience could connect with the events on stage however and wherever there was resonance.

We did however feel somewhat alienated from the performance during the recital of the spoken word piece entitles 'The Tree'. The delivery of the text in Korean by the two performers in this scene was intense and captivating, however, the indistinct English voice-over sat awkwardly with the dramatic delivery by the artists and was difficult to hear. The lack of clarity of the audio alienated us from what would otherwise have been a beautiful spoken word piece - fortunately, the words for 'The Tree' were provided in both Korean and English in the program. Furthermore, the translation from dance to spoken word was abrupt; a continuing flow of physical movement in responding to the text would have made the segment more fluid and compelling.
Whilst questions about mortality have obsessed artists for generations, The Buddha My Body is a dance work which offers fresh and new perspective in this exciting international collaboration.

Lian Low & Raina Peterson
The Australian Arts Portal - ArtsHub

  All Photos: Jave Lee Photo above: Julie Bowyer         >> Back to Top    
Buddha my Body - A palimpsest
Performance at ARKO Arts Theatre, Seoul, Korea, December 2008
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Stage 2 development & Showing
Miroto, Sutudio Tari Banjar Mili, Yogyakarta, Indonesia November 2008

Translation of the review- "Kedaulatan Rakyat" Halaman 12 November 2008

Collaboration of three countries at the Studio Banjarmili
Spirit of 'Javanese Dance' in 'Buddha my Body'

That night, not only did Ray Sri Kadaryati Ywanjono sing the Dhandhanggula song through a recording, but she also danced at the beginning of the show. "It has been a long time since I danced, so I dance only what I can." said the 65-year old Kraton dancer.

Naturally this performance is far from complete just as they stated that this is a work-in-progress and it is certain sure when they can achieve as they hoped. It is clear the director Wong Young-oh of Nottle Theatre (South Korea) together with artists from Tony Yap Company (Australia) as well as Paguyuban Kesenian Surya Kencana will do proceed with the process of investigation. In fact, they will premier the performance at the Arko Theatre, Seoul South Korea, 11-14 December, Kadaryati, however, will not join them for this.

Besides Won and Kadaryati, The Buddha My Body was also realized by artists, like dancer Tony Yap, Agung Gunawan, Lee Jee Hyun, Lim So Young, Lee Eun-A, Yung Sang Don, Eom Ju Young. music composers by Tim Humphrey and Madelene Flynn, artistic installation Naomi Ota, and many more.

It is not easy to understand meaning of the performing The Buddha My Body. They come to result in a form of contemporary theatre or to be more accurate, physical theater.
The performers consist mostly of dancers, however, they are not satisfied only with movement. So their voices are audible, like their presense of tembang, so flexible in their use of these mixed elements that it presents a theatre that is on deed contemporary.

Director Won Young-oh said, the Buddha that is used for the title is the inspiration for the themes of life and death, the human condition, or even as an art of living. In its finality, the subject Buddha is not longer there.  

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Stage-one Development & Showing in Korea
Hooyong Performing Arts Centre Artist-In-Residency, Sth Korea, December 2007
Supported by The Australia International Cultural Council an initiativeof the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Tony Yap Company (tyc) comprising choreographer/dancer Tony Yap, composers/musicians Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, and visual artist Naomi Ota worked on stage-one creative development of a new work with the Hooyong Performing Arts Centre Resident Company, Theatre Nottle and Indonesian choreographer/dancer Agung Gunawan.
The intensive creative period finished with a successful development showing at the centre.

Palimpsest - literally, scraping the vellum of one manuscript which is then re-written upon.

The project was a deep experience of creation: intercultural, and interdisciplinary- with the centre of the focus being the ability of the artists involved to create from their imaginations.
Trust and intuition combined with committed work cross cultural contexts. This is what we were working with.

It was also a precious opportunity to ascertain the fundamental meaning of collaborative work. Artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds (Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Australia) met to produce dynamic inter-cultural work in a perfect balance.

Agung Gunawan - choreographer, dancer
Kim Dae Gun - actor
Kim Hyou Woo - playwright
Lee Jee Hyun - actor
Lim So Yong - actor
Madeleine Flynn - sound artist
Naomi Ota - visual artist
Tim Humphrey - sound artist
Tony Yap - choreographer, dancer
Won Young Oh - director

Production team
Yoon Sang Don
Produces by Baek Kyoung Suk


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