International Conference 
"Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
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Krissy Yin LAM at IUGTE Conference 2019
Devising theatre: distancing and empathy for artistic transformation and new insights
Lecture/Workshop by Krissy Yin LAM – Lecturer in the Centre for Performing Arts Research in The Hong Kong Academy for Performing  Arts (Hong Kong).

Krissy, currently a Lecturer in the Centre for Performing Arts Research in The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, is an award-winning drama and theatre artist who has won awards and nominations in The Hong Kong Drama Awards, The Hong Kong Theatre Libre, and the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong)Awards. Krissy is especially interested in devising theatre, performing, directing,teaching and practice-as-research, some of her works have travelled to Brussels, Warsaw and Singapore. Krissy earned an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice majored in Performing at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and a Master in Drama Education at the Griffith University. Krissy’s current research interests lie in the areas of the training of the performer’s body and the art of story-telling in devised theatre. 


The art of storytelling in devising theatre, and how stories are transformed and told through the performer’s body, have always been the key interests of my creative works and research. In this presentation, I am going to share and reflect on a piece of award-winning group-devised theatre called “Mothering Voices” which I directed and co-devised with a group of performers after I became a mother. In this presentation, I would like to reflect and investigate how the concepts of distancing and empathy worked in the devising process of our piece to achieve artistic transformation and bring new insights. Using our piece as an example, I will hold a mini-devising workshop, to examine how the concepts of distancing and empathy create possibilities in the artistic choices for storytelling in theatre, in order to capture, honor and transform the meaning and different aspects of human experiences.

Postmodernist feminism defines motherhood as the experience of mothering that are diverse and dynamic in nature, which is also being constantly shaped by external forces and discourses. The same concepts apply to almost all kinds of living experiences in our contemporary world. In the process of creating “Mother Voices”, I believed telling the stories of the real, current and diverse mothering experiences would help us re-construct and re-imagine our understanding of this very complex and influential role in humanity. When a group of mothers came together to devise a piece of theatre to tell mothers’ stories for mothers and non-mothers, we realized that both the concepts of distancing and empathy were important for the artistic transformation of the stories to create new meaning, for both the creative team and the audience.

The process of navigating the distance between the creative team and their personal stories as well as looking for the forms for artistic transformation were challenging and fulfilling. This presentation will share the experiments and discoveries made in the creative devising process of “Mothering Voices”. Through a short devising workshop, I will invite participants to share different types of real-life stories, and explore the use of dramatic forms and other artistic means to create different ways of storytelling about these experiences. Focus will be placed on looking at how the unique qualities and meaning of stories can be captured and transformed artistically through distancing. Some of the forms that I have employed in “Mothering Voices”, including physical theatre, chorus work, live music, metaphors, and monologues will be examined, and how they were used to achieve aesthetic distance will be discussed. Through the investigation and workshop on distancing, the presentation hopes to stimulate new ideas for future storytelling which will become take-aways for the participants.


Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse" and New International Performing Arts Institute