Korea things: Festival Bo:m tour diary (kinda)


It’s 45 minutes before our first Gobyerno show in Korea, and I’ve never quite experienced a process like this before. We (that is me, Ness Roque and JK Anicoche from Sipat Lawin, and Brandon Relucio our masterful filmographer / documentary-maker) spent the day preparing the space. Creative VaQi have been working on their own preparations, translating the text, preparing their lines, running through the show order. Sipat and I are putting props out and trying our best to help them without getting in the way.

Ness and I made a timeline for the workshop (and despite our best efforts, there’s no way that this one can be done inside the time limits without some serious on-the-floor cuts), JK set up the props and has made endless boxes out of brown cardboard. Brandon has been organising the camera equipment. I’ve been stringing up lights and learning how to be a lighting designer (a terrible one), and now I’ve stolen some of JK’s pics from the last few days and I’m scribbling a few stray thoughts.

Now VaQi are playing some luscious Korean rock (3rd Line Butterfly!) and Ness and Brandon and I are dancing around the space, while SooYeon, SooJin, KyungSung and KyungMin gather themselves and focus. We have worked in a mad scramble this last two weeks in Manila, grounding and testing our bag of crazy ideas with Sipat and the wider Sipat family, then the last two days we’ve been running VaQi through it and they’ve been digesting it as best they can.

We’re in the midst of it and it’s lovely seeing it. How do you describe seeing an experience you’ve helped sculptbeing undertaken by people in a form that you can’t actually understand, but which you can tell/feel is delightful?

KyungMin and SooJin looking after one table, SooYeon and KyungSung taking care of the other. And there’s 20 participants, building cities out of paper and cardboard, negotiating how their leader will speak on camera and preparing their grand entrance. Choosing music – one guy decided that the president should enter to the Clash’s London Calling and the other president arrived to the Jaws theme.

It’s crazy intense being here but totally unable to help, just watching from the sidelines and trying to sense where the conversation is flowing. Exhausting in a whole different way.

Finished our debrief. VaQi went straight into a really analytical unpicking of some of the rougher elements, but one of the things that they all agreed on was that they should trust their instincts and be more flexible with the time, rather than following too closely the timeline that we’d mapped out. They know what they’re doing, and they don’t need much more guidance from us. They get it, and that’s the best thing.

Working in Seoul has been a beautiful experience, the Festival Bo:m team have taken incredible care of us (thank you Kimoon!), and I’m living in this weird headspace of being a guest at an international arts festival and treated with such generosity and I’m so grateful but also so worried that I’m not doing enough to justify it. But Seoul is beautiful, it’s been such a delightful experience and I don’t know what to say.

More things. Bring it.

how it feels to be in the philippines in april 2015

Got to the Philippines two weeks ago, and it has been a hit the ground running kinda process. Which is maybe exactly what I needed. But also, I feel confused and bewildered about where I am and what I’m doing. But also: happy.

lapel note the jesus lapel mic

I’m illustrating this post with JK’s images from the live crucifixion at Pampanga on the weekend. That was a strange and wonderful day, part street theatre, part sacred rite, part cheesy tourist spectacle, part mob-style mania. JK got accidentally whipped by a self-flagellant while he was videoing the crucifix kite on his phone. I bought four glow-in-the-dark crosses with rosary beads and nearly tripped into a puddle of blood in the dusty street. We all got to reenact that moment in Matthew 33:1-8 where bystanders at the crucifixion gave their phone to Roman guards to videotape the crucifixion close-up and then the bystanders thought the Romans had run off with their cell-phones but really they were just taking terrible poorly composed shaky video of Jesus being lowered from the cross and dragged off by paramedics.

My future goal is to get to watch from the scissor-lift erected on Golgotha to the side of the three crosses, with the mayor and the other VIPs. JK’s goal is to get to play Mary Magdalene in the rites. We all have dreams. & isn’t that, after all, the true meaning of christmas?


In one week we go to Korea for Festival B:om to present the first scratches of Gobyerno. It’s always scary sharing a new piece with an audience who’s not familiar with your work, but this has so many more layers than that. We’re going over to collaborate with Korean theatre ensemble Creative VaQi, who’ll be presenting the work, in Korean. So we’ve created a participatory performance piece which will be done for the first time in Korean, by a Korean company, to an audience whose sensibilities and proclivities are very new to us. There are so many ways that this could go wrong. And that in its own way is kinda great.

Then beyond that, it’s getting to grips with Everything is Everywhere, before Karnabal starts in… one month today. And it’s hot. It’s really hot. There’s a typhoon on its way but I think it just got downgraded to a tropical storm. There’s a rat and a friendly giant spider somewhere in the house tonight. Eisa is practising her host performance, playing a 2009 K-Pop anthem over and over.

Also, Ness has been doing her best to teach me some tagalog words. I don’t have much, pero try-ko. Magiging okay lang. Ang pag-ibig ko sayo ay forever. Nandoon ang pusa. Magke-kembot ako. Minahal kita noon, pero hindi ngayon. Edy wow. Sakto. That’s what I’ve got.


And watching so much Foreignoy. Where do I start. The current front-runner is a Mormon missionary from Queensland and he’s really good. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even a person, I’m just a vessel that’s waiting to Eat Bulaga.


And last night JK and I got back in to Manila around 2am, somewhere in the back end of Quezon City. We found a cab to take us to Sikatuna, and suddenly we were driving through Balintawak Markets, a huge warehouse that was cranking at 2am, vegetables and goods from the provinces being unloaded from trucks and people sitting around piles of vegetables on tarpaulins under intense floodlights or in total darkness. And I was happy.