Ong Keng Sen

Profile

study intercultural theatre at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In 1994 he began The Flying Circus Project, a centre for bringing together traditional and contemporary arts from various disciplines: theatre, music, dance, video, the visual arts, documentary film and ritual. He subsequently established Arts Network Asia, where artists and activists from throughout the region can collaborate. Ong Keng Sen is the director of TheatreWorks, an international group based in Singapore devoted to the exploration of Asian identity and its relationship with 21st-century developments. Between 2013 and 2017, he was the director of the independent Singapore International Festival of the Arts. For some years, Ong was also a member of the jury of the Dutch Prince Claus Award.  Ong views theatre as transcending the borders between cultures and disciplines. Moreover, with his productions, he aims to bridge the gap between the past and the present, in part by interweaving Asian and Western traditions. Ong disdains the concept of an authentic, purely Asian culture. In his work, he prefers to give expression to the multiplicity of perspectives and cross-pollination which characterise Asia. Additionally, gender-bending is a familiar element in his productions, as seen in his treatment of Shakespeare's Richard III, in which the lead went to a Japanese kabuki actor known for playing female roles. Ahn Sook-sun (Namwon, 1949) was designated a "living cultural treasure" for her extraordinary gifts as a musician in 1997 in Korea. She is considered to be one of the most highly-respected performers of pansori, a genre added to Unesco's global list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. Of the twelve original pansori works within the genre, only five have survived intact. In their unabridged versions, each performance can last several hours. Ahn Sook Sun learned all five complete works directly from the masters with whom she studied. She is also an accomplished player of the kayagum, a zither-like twelve-stringed instrument. She fulfilled a prominent role in the National Gugak Centre, the Korean institution for traditional music. She performs around the globe, both with that ensemble and as a pansori singer. Jung Jae-il (Seoul, 1982) is active as a musician and composer in many genres, from film music to lounge jazz, from K-pop to improvisation. He has released a wide range of CDs. In 2016, Jung Jae-il appeared as a guitarist and pianist at the Montreux Jazz Festival, performing with the Korean singer Han Seung-seok. He also wrote the music for the film Okja (2017). In his own country, he is famous for his understanding of both Western classical music and Korean traditional music. The National Theatre of Korea is Korea's national performing arts centre established in Seoul in 1950. The theatre has numerous resident artistic groups, including the National Dance Company, the National Orchestra, as well as the National Changgeuk Company of Korea – which has many popular repertoires including Trojan Women. Since its founding in 1962, the National Changgeuk Company of Korea has presented changgeuk, traditional Korean opera. “Chang” means pansori, and “geuk” means drama in Korean. Pansori is a Korean oral tradition of musical storytelling performed by a singer and a drummer. Changgeuk rooted in pansori hires numerous singers and divides parts of pansori to take different roles. Within Korea, the National Theatre of Korea is a respected authority in all fields of the performing arts. It strives to provide a contemporary framework for traditional Korean art forms.