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Vertebra Theatre works with director Fu Hong-Zheng to produce physical theatre “Fight Me Now” in mainland China. “Fight Me Now” is like a sports show combining ping pong, basketball, baseball, football. Such a mixture creates a refreshing sense of humor. Pure physical movements creates a unique sense tension on the stage. Actors are not just throwing balls to each other on the stage, but ‘throwing’ their language as well. The show is sometimes relaxing, sometimes violent and dark, sometimes peaceful yet sometimes hysteric. Weakening the role of story and language, physical theatre “Fight Me Now” puts an emphasis on the creation of situation and physical expression. Sports is used to explore career, family and love – the essential things in life. It also reexamines the dominant male image of being strong and powerful in the Chinese society. “People nowadays do not understand the power of softness and the perseverance of humanity. In the face of conflicts they tend to control others, which generates some twisted power. We should all think of more ways to treat our lives.”
“Fight Me Now” is an artwork, based on an original concept of physical theater, where actors’ movements remain calqued from the movements of athletes. The body bears the word. Dance, gesture, facial expressions, blended with poetry, song and music, all this might be enough, but there is something more in this show, something like harmony, virtuosity, purity of the athletic gesture, when it goes to the end of performance, a gesture that goes from very fast to very slow, as if the whole world would hold its breath during the consecration of the moment.
The director, Fu Hong-Zheng, engages here the most original work, where violence explodes human relationships in front of the eyes of the spectator, caught up in the unspoken feelings of the characters, each persisting in internalizing their pain. A breaking and vibrant show, with the images, striking and sometimes disturbing, the final – the scene of fight with the knives, evokes goose bumps on the skin of the audience, with intelligence and finesse discovering to the stunned gaze of the spectator the difficulty that people can have at work, to gather for fight against the oppression of a sexist and unfair head of department: this last one divides his subordinates and rules in his little world and exploits most deeply buried fears, especially ones of unemployment or of rebellion. The psychological abuse experienced by the young woman, mistrust and competition awaken by the leader among the employees within the company are presented to the audience in all their cruelty and inhumanity. The interventions of the singer bring a relief to the spectator, offering a poetic breath in this brutal world. The director offers us a reflection of the complexity of love … Love is an everyday battle, a struggle against yourself; in Asia, where love is a great unknown, Asian tradition awakening in the people an incredible need for security, incompatible with the feeling of love, which often leads them to think too much.
“Fight me now” combines physical theater, sportive diverted gesture, amplified, and even motionless at a dramatic body, tensioned by the work and stress. With a great economy of means, the play represents a dialogue between two poles: the very essence of being, linked to its natural environment, biological rhythms, and an anatomy of a part. And a carapace, created for protection in economic survival and social war, on the other side. Like the filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien in his Millennium Mambo, passionate of athleticism, the director of “Fight me now” Hong-Zheng Fu, started from declaring a fact: the ailment of youth, captured into the trap of pain within the society of consumerism, competition in all directions that lead to exhaustion and disorientation. But they are not overwhelmed by an overly sociological discourse. Ultimately, this ailment attracts, they do not judge it. Moreover, they observe, they see it shining in the spotlights of stroboscopes that cut the movements of the protagonists in a jerky way of photography. But also through fatigue of exchanges or attitudes on the spectrum.
This play has won numerous awards. From 2010 to 2014, it has been performed nearly hundred rounds in Taiwan, Beijing, Busan, Hong Kong and other places. It has been traversing all the way from Taiwan to the French Avignon Art Festival, Korea Busan Art Festival, HKREP International Black Box Festival, etc,and causes great responses.
By Dongjian Ti (China Taiwan)
Directed by Fu Hongzheng (Malaysia)
Starring by Su Ride, Hu kenü, Zhao Jingyi, Shi Zehao, Cui Zongren, Wu Weihao
photos credit: Yin Xuefeng