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The Global Soul
- the Buddha project -


Artistic director of TheatreWorks in Singagpore for the last fifteen years, Ong Keng Sen is an active contributor to the evolution of an Asian identity and aesthetic for contemporary performance in the 21st century. Keng Sen studied intercultural performance with the Performance Studies Department at Tisch Schools of the Arts, New York University, and holds a law degree. His belief in the juxtaposition of different art forms and cultural styles has helped him create his own epic performance style of directing.

In 1994, Keng Sen conceptualised his most important work, The Flying Circus Project, a laboratory project that brings together traditional and contemporary Asian artists from the fields of theatre, music, dance, video, visual arts and ritual who work together on projects that explore the concepts of reinvention, cultural negotiation and the politics of interculturalism.  From this experience, he initiated a new network for Asian artists to dialogue and engage with each other in 1999, known as the Arts Networks Asia (ANA).

The Arts Network Asia has held major regional Asian artist meetings in Shanghai (2000) and Hanoi (2002).  In 2002, he has embarked on a new Asian arts exchange project in Laos engaging with the local youths, elder artists and international asian artists called The Continuum Asia Project (CAP).  

Notable Keng Sen productions in Singapore include Destinies of Flowers in the Mirror, an interdisciplinary production that brought 300 audience members into a large fountain for each performance and the Descendants of the Admiral Eunuch which explored political castration in Singapore. His "docu-performances," pieces that explore today’s Asia through history and confrontation of self include Broken Birds, Workhorse Afloat, and The Spirits Play—6 Movements in a Strange House (retitled Dreamtime in Morishita Studios for its November and December 2001 Tokyo stagings).

He directed the Tokyo premiere of Lear in 1997, which then went on to tour eight cities in Asia, Europe, and Australia, including a performance at Berlin’s Theatre der Welt 1999. His Shakespeare-inspired trilogy include Desdemona premiering at the Adelaide Festival, Australia in 2000 and Search:Hamlet (Denmark, 2002) at the Kronbourg Castle in Elsinore, and Copenhagen for the Asia-Europe Forum.

Directing credits in the United States include The Silver River (Spoleto Festival, Charleston, 2000; New Music Theatre Festival, Philadelphia, 2001, Singapore 2001) for The Lincoln Center Festival in New York City in July 2002; A Language of Their Own, which he directed at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre (New York Shakespeare Festival, 1995), and The Continuum: Beyond the Killing Fields, a docu-performance on a 70 year old classical dancer, Em Theay, from Cambodia who survived the mass killings of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge (International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, 2001; Singapore, 2001; Berlin 2002).

Keng Sen is presently developing two projects concurrently, the first in Vienna entitled The Myths of Memory, which includes The Continuum; and a new piece with Austrian and German performers based on the ongoing Milosevic trails. The second is the The Global Soul which will premiere this June in Singapore, with a preview in Berlin. It is inspired by Pico Iyer’s musings on travel and the life of Gautama Buddha. It embraces the tales of Buddha, jet lag, airports, global currency, Liyuan opera, and Korean court songs within a contemporary soundscape.

Keng Sen is curator and co-artistic director of In Transit, an annual three-week festival in Berlin that debuted in June 2002. The Flying Circus Project made its first European appearance at the festival. A Fulbright Scholar, he was recently artist-in-residence at the New York University Asian Pacific and American Studies Programme/Institute.  In addition, he serves on the International Council of The Asia Society of New York and has been the recipient of fellowships from the Japan Foundation, the British Council, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Berlin and the Asian Cultural Council (New York).

- Collaborators-Performers

Charlotte works particularly in the field of modern theatre and dance. Born in Stockholm, she went to art school there and started out as a dancer in a Swedish oriental dance company. She came to the theatre by working with Belgian director Michael Laub (Remote Control Productions). She became the leading actress of the group and between 1987 and 1996 they created seven different productions. She then worked with German choreographer and author Raimund Hoghe, who created a duo for her with himself Dialogue with Charlotte (1998), which toured dance festivals all over Europe.

In 1999 she started working with German composer and director Heiner Goebbels and still tours with his multimedia performance Hashirigaki in Europe and Asia. At the same time she got engaged with Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg as a director and actor. Her won two pieces, Sweet (2000) and Fraulein Julie – The Musical (2002) is still in the repertoire. In 2002, she performed in Ong Keng Sen's most recent intercultural work 'Search: Hamlet' which premiered as a site-specific work at the Kronborg Castle, Elsinore for the Kopenhagen International Theatre festival, then moved to Betty Nansen Theatre at Copenhagen.

KANG KWON SOON Kagok / The Singer
Kang Kwon-soon, studied at National Traditional Music High School and Seoul National University, is a young leading vocalist in traditional and contemporary music in Korea.  As a singer she has devoted herself to performing and perfecting Korean traditional court music (Junga) and new-composed works as well.

Since 1987, she has developed her career extensively throughout Korea and abroad by working with lots of composers, dancers and theater companies. She has worked with the famous composers Kim Young-dong, Lee Kun-yong and a well-known dancer Hong Sin-ja. And she has performed with many important ensembles and orchestra such as Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra, Traditional Music Orchestra affiliated with The National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts, Orchestra, Korean Court Music Association, Kim Duk-soo Samulnori(Korean Percussion Ensemble) Group, Chamber Group Sori-sawi, and Nan Kye Traditional Ensemble.

Moreover Ms. Kang has been invited to numerous prestigious events such as regular performances organized by the Wol-ha Institute for Korean Traditional classical Vocal Music, the Celebration of Buddha's Birthday at Bulkooksa-temple, Kyong Joo, the 50th Anniversary of Korea's Liberation (from Japanese rule), Young Musicians Festivals and the Korea Festival. She participated in Cultural Exchange programs in Japan with UNESCO and the Ministry of Korea. She has performed in Canada, Europe and the United States with artists from various countries.

She has released recordings with samulnori group and recorded folk songs from Cheju Ireland, as well as newly composed pieces. She also has appeared in many radio and TV programs at Korea Broadcasting Station and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation. She received first prizes in both the Dong-A Competition and the Seoul Traditional Music Festival, sponsored by Korea Broadcasting Station.

Pichet was educated in classical Thai dance at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, but has also worked since with contemporary dance. He adapts the traditional work of Thai classical dance to the contemporary style while keeping to the heart of tradition. He trained for the Thai Classical Mask Dance, khon, from the age of 16 with Chaiyot Khummanee, one of the Thailand’s best khon Masters. After graduating he did a lot of theatre work both as dance and choreographer at high-profiled occasions like the opening and closing ceremonies of Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 and the 1999 Bangkok Sound and Light show, The River of King 1; and The River of King 2 in 2001.

In recent times, he has participated in several intercultural performing arts programs as a representative Thai classical dance artist and in 2000 was part of the Flying Circus project with Ong Keng Sen in Singapore. In 2001 he was a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council in USA. In 2002, he performed in Ong Keng Sen's most recent intercultural work 'Search: Hamlet' which premiered as a site-specific work at the Kronborg Castle, Elsinore for the Kopenhagen International Theatre festival, then moved to Betty Nansen Theatre at Copenhagen.

Sophiatou Kossoko is born in Cotonou (Bénin), she has been dancing and teaching dance since 1984. She studies modern dance as Horton and Graham technics, and ballet at the Doug Crutchfield dance school in Copenhague with the following teachers; Stephen Fant, Ralph Grant, MetteRonning, Frank Schaufuss,Warren Spears, Astra Stern, Sheila de Val. She completed her training by doing workshops with other theachers and choreographers issued of wide dance’s cultures; in Europa and in New York with J. F Duroure, Julyen Hamilton, Koffi Koko, Julio Riviéra, Mark Tompkins, David Zambrano.

Sophiatou worked with the following company; Alvin Ailey (1989 memoria in Paris), Les ballets noirs de Paris, SEBT 3ème monde (Germaine Acogny ) Yewa, Philippe Jamet Portraits dansés, Heddy Maalem Black Spring and une petite logique des forces. She also danced in the the following Operas; Mahagonny directed by Graham Wick, Orphée aux enfers directed by Robert Fortune.

In 1995, the compagnie Igi creates and presents its first piece Ama, a solo, at the emerging choreographers series in Normandie, France. Formes et Volumes is created next, in collaboration with the singer Margot Vignat and the bassist Regis Hamelin; the piece is featured in Sens at the exhibition’s opening of sculptor/architect Damien Roland.

In 1998, the ibi l’ohun work in progress is presented for the first time at the Nantes Rairie Contemporary Art Center during the 100 Papers Festival. This is the beginning of a long research process, which will come to fruition at the June 2001 edition of Kaay Fecc, the first international dance festival in Dakar (Senegal).

In November 2001, Sophiatou creates Tchouraî, a solo piece, for choreographer/dancer/teacher Germaine Acogny. Based on texts from Xavier Orville.

The company’s focus is to create, produce and present artistic projects that mix dance with other disciplines such as singing, music, theater, visual arts, in order to explore the relationships between the world’s cultural differences. Compagnie Igi also offers a range of educational activities on a regular basis.

The company will tour ibi l’ohun in 2002 at Les Antipodes festival in Brest (France), in Italy, Germany and New York (USA), In Transit Haus der kulturen der Welt Berlin.

Born in Osaka, Japan. As a music composer, producer, club DJ and organizer, Yamanaka creates his works with various artists around the world. From 1984 till 2000, he joined the renown Japanese performance group Dumb Type as a music composer and sound designer. While he has produced many albums, he enjoys and continues to perform ‘live’ all over the world, creating art with a strong relationship to the ever-moving society.

An accomplished performer and a ‘national treasure’, Zeng Jing ping is now the director of the Fujian Liyuan Opera Theatre, the only company that specialises in the thousand year old Chinese operatic form. Since her graduation from Fujian Arts Academy in 1982, she has won many awards, which includes the Best Actress Award (1987) and numerous Merit Performance Awards in different parts of China. In 1989, she is awarded the prestigious Plum Blossoms prize for Chinese opera. Jing ping is known for her reprise of the different traditional roles and characters in Chinese Liyuan opera, as well as her troupe’s contemporarised versions of the Liyuan opera.

- Creative Team

JUSTIN HILL / Scenographer / Set Designer
Justin Hill, scenographer and architect, is based in Singapore, where he is a partner of Kerry Hill Architects and a board director of TheatreWorks. He studied architecture at The University of Adelaide graduating with Honours in 1979. During his studies, he was involved widely in stage and theatre design, and has since worked extensively in opera, musical theatre, and drama in both Asia and Australia.

He established his reputation in Singapore in 1982 by designing The Samseng and The Chettiar's Daughter, a highly successful musical. Directed by Australian director John Tasker and based on The Threepenny Opera, the production brought together many well-known Singaporean theatre practitioners in what was to be one of the first locally written musicals in the country.

In 1985, he helped found TheatreWorks, the pioneering professional theatre company, and became resident stage designer. Working with founding artistic director Lim Siauw Chong and later with Ong Keng Sen, he designed more than 20 productions for TheatreWorks. His designs for the company's Flying Circus Project, a 6-cycle of three major Asian works directed by Ong Ken Sen, have been seen in may countries, with Lear premiering in Tokyo and touring Japan in 1998 before making the round of festival in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Berlin, Copenhagen and Perth in 1999. Desdemona, the second production in the cycle, a premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 2000, and later toured Singapore, with studio tours to Yokohoma and Munich. He last project was ‘Search Hamlet’ which which premiered at the Kronborg Castle, Elsinore for the Kopenhagen International Theatre festival, then moved to Betty Nansen Theatre at Copenhagen.

SCOTT ZIELINSKI / Lights Designer
Scott has created lighting designs for theatre, dance, and opera throughout the world. His designs in New York include the recent Broadway production of Topdog/Underdog as well as productions for Lincoln Center Theater and The Joesph Papp Public Theatre, among many others.

His designs have also been seen extensively throughout the United States where he has worked with many directors and choreographers including Robert Wilson, George C. Wolfe, Sir Peter Hall, Richard Jones, Ron Daniels, Tina Landau, Tony Kushner, Marion McClinton, Hal Hartley, Anna Deveare Smith, Mary Zimmerman, James Robinson, Twyla Tharp, Helgi Tomassen, and James Kudelka.

Work outside the US includes productions for the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith (London), Edinburgh Festival (Scotland), Adelaide Festival (Australia), Theatre Neumarkt (Zurich), Schauspielhaus (Vienna), Sommertheater Festival (Hamburg), In Transit (Berlin), Asian Arts Festival, TheatreWorks (Singapore), and Fukuoka (Japan).

Scott received his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Design at the Yale University School of Drama. He is pleased to once again have the opportunity to work with long time collaborator Ong Keng Sen.

HEMAN CHONG / Video Designer
Heman a.k.a NoSleepRequired, is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

His trans-disciplinary practice involves the usage of graphics, photography, sound, text, video in the exploration of contemporary issues set within a socio-political context. Global mobility, cinema and off-screen spaces, the production of contemporary art, expanded ideas of performance, cities and urbanism are motifs that constantly surfaces in his work, where radical associations are created after an intensive process of collecting information and materials.

Some of his works include "Murmurmurmurmurmur (VeneziaAccademiaRemix)", a dance-video installation created from sequences performed by nineteen dancers based in Berlin, which will be participating in the Singapore Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale this year; "Molotov Cocktails", a triptych video projection that involves three protagonists drifting in Singapore, which participated in the 10th India Triennale and was awarded a Triennale Prize; and "The End of Travelling", a documentary video-installation, created in collaboration with Isabelle Cornaro, explores the impact of globalisation on contemporary art practice in Asia - this is currently on a global tour and has been shown in Copenhagen, Berlin, Brussels, Linz, London, Singapore and Paris.

Chong graduated with an MA in Communication Art and Design from The Royal College of Art, London and also holds a Diploma in Visual Communication from Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore.

ROBIN LOON / Dramaturg
Robin Loon is currently completing his PhD dissertation on Intercultural Theatre Practices at Royal Holloway College, University of London. His research has been closely linked to the TheatreWorks Intercultural Trilogy and he has also been involved with TheatreWorks’ series of docu-dramas. He was the writer/dramaturg for BROKEN BIRDS (1995) and WORKHORSE AFLOAT (1997) and was Writer-in-Residence at TheatreWorks in 1996. During his term as resident writer, Robin Loon also started the 24-hour playwriting competition which has since become a popular annual event in the TheatreWorks calendar. The Global Soul marks his return to collaborative theatre after a three-year hiatus.

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