Trance Mask R&D is a research initiative by performer and mask maker, Simone Tani together with six actors from KL Shakespeare Players.
Together, they created an abridged version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Trance Masks and Chinese Opera puppets. The unique show also explores physical movement and world-building through the creation of various characters through masks and puppetry.
The research phase of the project took place at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC). New and bold characters developed for the play were then performed in a tour to different schools within Malaysia in 2020.
As an initiative, Trance Mask R&D served to strengthen partnerships between Simone Tani, KL Shakespeare Company and KLPAC, with the aim of nurturing a long-term creative collaboration.
As part of the R&D, Simone also facilitated a Trance Mask workshop, sharing a half-mask training and performing technique for actors developed by Keith Johnstone at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The actors were encouraged to explore the full potential of this technique and how they can apply it to the show.
For Simone, it was also an opportunity to hone his practice as a mask facilitator to the next level; exploring in-depth techniques that push the boundaries for application in a professional production.
“Trance Masks are frequently used to train performers but rarely used during performances. With this project, we want to research more in-depth how to apply this technique to theatrical performances. This will be the first show that applies Trance Masks and Chinese Opera puppets to a scripted performance, therefore the opportunity to bring my practice as mask facilitator to the next level. It will also help to establish a long-term collaboration with KL Shakespeare Players and open up more opportunities in Malaysia. I also want to explore a production that can be performed both in the UK and Malaysia with performers from both nations.” - Simone.
Simone Tani is one of the founders of the theatre company, Teatro Pomodoro. His performances include "The Many Faces of Francis Bacon" at the Tate Gallery Liverpool, Cabaret From The Shadows (Brighton Fringe Award Winner 2017), and “Sirens, Men and Crab”, which was produced by Teatro Pomodoro and supported by Arts Council England, Unity Theatre in Liverpool and The Everyman and Playhouse in Liverpool. Simone is also one of the founders of the company, Bugiardini (Edinburgh Fringe Award Winner 2017). He lectured as a visiting professional for Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, University of Chester, Edge Hill University, and National Taiwan University of Arts.
KL Shakespeare Players are made up of Lim Soon Heng (Executive Director, Producer), Lim Kien Lee (Artistic Director), Zul Zamir (Actor) and Teoh Jun Vinh (Actor). They are a group that began in 2011 and is the only theatre company in Malaysia that focuses on Shakespeare’s works, without running away from his language. The company started experimenting with online productions as early as April 2020 when the pandemic hit, and ended the 2021 calendar year with a little over 70 online performances (not counting workshops) to over 20,000 viewers.
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