What drove you to make “Normal Love”?
I long for love, and I always try to express my desire for love through art. But what is love? Love is the very basic need for all human kind. Yet, strangely we see this as a unique gift.
Theatre as a medium is new for me. I have used this newly-learned language, as well as my life experience to express my understanding of Love.
What inspires you about Francis Bacon’s paintings?
It’s the violence that evokes an uncomfortable feeling caused by his brushwork: the dark marks and distorted shapes of human bodies that constantly appear on his canvas. His paintings project the dark human inner side.
Life in reality is violent. Francis Bacon’s works are based on reality but demonstrate something beyond reality. My process of creating this work is to analyse the details in Bacon’s works, and expand them via theatrical form. The strong contrast of colours in his paintings, and specific composition of the figures and objects exhibit the extreme loneliness of the artist. In my work, I try to re-interpret the emotional tone in Bacon’s work, giving it a different shape and colour.
Tell us a bit more about your creative process of making “Normal Love”
The process of creating is far more important than the result. I see the actors as individuals, and I don’t want to put any label on anyone. Normal Love, upholds human relationships without referring to any specific gender, society, nationality, etc. During the rehearsals the cast went through a process of finding themselves.
Team work, with lots of surprises, challenges and passion have been the building blocks. I love collision of thoughts in the rehearsal room. The scenography in Normal Love is very abstract, inspired by the compositions in Bacon’s paintings rather than the psychological or emotional elements.
In the production you have used Lecoq trained artists. Lecoq as a technique encourages artists individuality. How involved were they in the making of your show?
We have 2 Lecoq trained actors in the cast, and 1 professional contemporary dancer. I found physical training is essential for performers as it brings a strong awareness of the body, allowing them to explore and go beyond their limits.
Before the rehearsal, I had a series of workshops with my cast. I asked them to explore the space and body using very ordinary material, like food, colour, texture, etc. Their sensitivity to these stimuli led to create work and was a great help for me as a new director.
Team Normal Love has award winning names like Wang Jing (set design) and fashion designer Ton Zhao (costumes). Is this a new collaboration or have you worked together in the past.
This is the first time. Wang Jing is well-established in China. She has been working on a lot of opera and musical productions and with big names like David Freeman and Suzuki. I was nervous at the beginning. But later on I found her absolutely lovely to work with. I am using a fashion designer this time, because I want the costumes to be much more experimental and have strong visual effect. Both designers have taught me a lot of things throughout the process. And I really appreciate their input and patience.
The name Zi Ling is associated with visual art, theatre director and painting. Which do you think you are first or which one of these do you enjoy being most, visual artist, theatre director or painter.
I am a very visual person, and I love to try out different formats to present my vision. However, different fields imply different skills and disciplines. So I am still learning my way in the world of Theatre. In future, I would like to create more cross-disciplinary works to combine theatre and visual arts together.