Siu Tip

I know how to recite the “Heart Sutra”, but just like “reciting rigidly”. I didn’t have a good understanding of the Buddhist principles and wisdom. Therefore, when I heard about Pop Theatre’s “The Heart Sutra” – a stage performance inspired by the “Heart Sutra”, which uses the ritual theatre performance method to present the way of silence, thus tracing the spirit of an original theatre performance, I planned to attend and hope to have a better understanding of the “Heart Sutra”.

The artistic director Chan Wing Chuen stated that the purpose for him to found Pop Theatre is to develop local theatre, and to perceive the essence of life with the “heart”. To observe the soul, make the mind clear and turn the confusion into enlightenment. He believes that the “heart” is the source of everything, the “sutra” is the Tao. The “Heart Sutra” is a series of sounds that transcend language boundaries, allowing people to perceive the essence of life and make the “heart” realize the silence. “The Heart Sutra” is a performance where he and the director Tsang Man Tung practiced from the inside to create a performance of Zen.

He revealed that the performance used audio frequency, body, imagery and monologue to show the four passages of “heart”, “silence”, “nothing” and “sound”. With the ultimate power of simplicity, a ceremonial sacred space was created, connecting the “Universe-Nature-Man-Inner”. He emphasized that the audience in it is not purely a viewer, but a member of the ceremony.

During the performance, audience can experience the change of mind. By using the theatre as a mirror, they can observe the mind and body, see the “truth” in “emptiness”, reconnect with nature, and find inner peace. All roles in “The Heart Sutra” are based on the sutra. With chanting bowls, pipa and drums, the characters generate live performances, interspersed on with different roles. Tsang Man Tung has practiced meditation, tai chi, and yoga for many years. He has also practiced the shaman’s secret Himalayan chanting technique, using chanting bowls in his practice.

In 2012, he launched the ten-year plan of “Luz de silencio”, a ritual theatre that enlightens the soul. He has accumulated 20 years of theatre experience and practice, which he combined performance and practice in the “The Heart Sutra”, and introduced a creative method that combines stage aesthetics and meditation.

Actors are no longer rehearsing, but through “viewing, color, and emptiness”. That is, practicing from inner voice, body, and space to connect with the five senses. They will also train in the mountains and rivers, integrate with nature.

In addition, Tsang Man Tung was also responsible for the design and performance of “The Heart Sutra”. Alex Cheung, the artistic director of Taiwan Möbius Strip Theatre, also participated in the performance. The director especially set up a tea table on the stage before the performance, which actors serve tea to the audience. First, they calmly reduce the distance between audience and actors. Next, experience with  the five senses.

Readers who are interested can go to the Cultural Activities Hall of Tuen Mun Town Hall from January 5 to 8 to experience the shock of the ritual theatre.

The original text is only available in Chinese:

Wen Wei Po, 30/12/2016