Bond Street Theatre has been awarded one of three Global Connections "In the Lab" grants by the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in its nationwide competition. The support allows the company to return to Myanmar on April 4, 2013 to continue its collaborative adaptation of Ben Johnson's Volpone with Thukhuma Khayeethe (Art Travelers), and set up a Southeast Asian tour.
Bond Street Theatre, a New York-based theatre company with a long history of creative projects for peace, has been working in Myanmar since 2009, and served as Cultural Envoys through the US Embassy in Yangon in 2010.
The companies began work on the production following the 2010 elections in Myanmar, in response to the government's new openness to freedom of speech. The two companies chose the satirical comedy Volpone to explore Myanmar's economic challenges as the country opens to new influences. The collaborative production is intended to spark dialogue about national issues.
In the process of collaboration, the Burmese and American ensembles discovered similarities between traditional Burmese theatre and the European commedia dell'arte of the 16th century.
Professor Ye Mon of Yangon University said of their physically stylized performance,"This is something very new and interesting. We need this in Myanmar."
Since 1962, Myanmar endured a military regime that allowed Little Room for creativity or expression. Burmese artists have long been isolated from new theatrical ideas from outside their country. While new reforms promise a more open future, Burmese artists are still hesitant to speak out freely, and struggle to reflect the country's changing political reality.
Actors make masks for the final performancee.
In April, the ensembles will complete Volpone and plan a Southeast Asian tour to expose the Burmese company to the work of artists in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
In awarding the Global Connections grant, TCG identified this collaboration as "ideally suited to the goals of the [Global Connections] program." Bond Street Theatre thanks the Theatre Communications Group for its support for innovative and substantive international programs.