This week, we’re launching our 4th Summer Training Institute, a week-long in-depth exploration of the community-based performance and documentary theatre practices behind our Undesirable Elements series. This year’s institute is hosted by LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Agents of Change Initiative. We appreciate meeting new friends and colleagues each year in our institutes–like Nana Dakin, who first engaged with us as a participant in our 2011 Summer Training Institute. She’s a theatre director and performer who’s a member of Thailand’s B-Floor Theatre. She’s currently pursuing her MFA in directing at Columbia University.
How did you come to engage with Ping Chong + Company?
I greatly admired the work of Ping Chong + Company after I saw BLIND NESS: The Irresistible Light of Encounter at La Mama ETC in 2004. I applied to be an intern at PC+C after I finished my undergrad training, but unfortunately there was no PC+C production work happening in NYC at the time. Nevertheless, I was kindly invited to attend a rehearsal of “Secret History: Journeys Abroad, Journeys Within” at Lincoln Center. It was my first introduction to the Undesirable Elements series, and I was utterly impressed and inspired by the concept of it. I was particularly drawn to its focus on sharing the testimonies of marginalized and displaced communities. When I saw the opportunity to learn how to create this type of work at the Summer Institute in 2011, I leapt at the chance.
What was a meaningful moment or take-away from your experience with PC+C?
At one point, Ping described the directing of an Undesirable Elements performance as being about directing the movement of the sound of people’s voices. This has always stayed with me.
How does your time with PC+C influence what you’re doing today?
My time with PC+C taught me how powerful it is to be given a space to tell your story and have someone else listen to it. Because my background is in physical theatre, I have been working on translating this idea into movement-based work. In 2013, for example, I co-created a dance performance called “The Last Gasp of a Mournful Heart” devised from the personal stories of its 4 female performers (including myself), which explored our experiences of letting go and saying goodbye.