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.