As one of the eight permanent programs of OCAT Shenzhen, OCAT Performs is an annual program started in 2010. The 2014 OCAT Performs project has invited Zhao Chuan, founder of the theatre collective Grass Stage, as its curator. Based on Grass Stage's new production World Factory and METIS' creation inspired by the same title, this year's project introduces and explores how Grass Stage, a collective in its 10th year since establishment, transforms theatre into a site for contemporary social studies and practice, and engenders dynamic local and international interactions. Revolved around the performance, this year's program will explore further into the subject with lectures, post-performance talks and seminars.
World Factory by Grass Stage aims at exploring the historical and geopolitical aspects of, and especially workers' living conditions in the global manufacturing industry from the emergence of ‘world factory’ to its current prevalence in China. The concept of this play originated from Zhao Chuan’s visit to Manchester, UK in 2009, and underwent 4–5 years of preparation. Based on the artistic experience and theatrical aesthetics developed over the past ten years, Grass Stage has incorporated materials generated from their discussions, research, documentation and workshops into collective creation, completed the play in mid-2014, and toured in several Northwestern cities in China. Apart from exchanging with worker’s associations and schools in China, it has also spread the subject overseas, and began collaborating with the performing arts company METIS. Under the support of its director Zoe Svendsen, METIS started their own research and conceived their own production under the same title, which, in a British perspective, uses the textile industry as the starting point to explores the relationships of Britain and China with consumer capitalism.
Grass Stage was founded in Shanghai in 2005, with writer/theatre professional Zhao Chuan as its mastermind, and has since accumulated followers and influence. It encourages common people to participate in theatre and creative endeavors, and emphasizes the connection between artistic practices and everyday life; its members congregate weekly to discuss , hold performance workshops, and work on individual as well as group creations. Over the years, Grass Stage has made use of various venues to stage not-for-profit performances, forums and “culture outposts”. Their theatre has thus become a gathering spot for all kinds of people, and is continually creating fluid public spaces. Zhao Chuan once wrote, ‘to imagine a kind of theatre…first, it doesn’t come from the need for artistic re volition in formalistic terms but the need to improve the understanding of the relationship between theatre and people. The main concern of this kind of theatre is social life, not by ways of reflection but that of penetration and more substantial interventions, as question or even interrogation. Such reality is absolutely not naturalistic imitation, ingratiation or duplication. In certain way, this kind of theatre is approaching the truths of self, individuals, and social groups, and the process of interrogation is theatre which then becomes a method to reflect on life and its problems.’ (Zhao Chuan, “ Interrogating Theatre”, Dushu, April 2006)
The OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT) was founded in 2005, and was officially elevated to the level of a nationwide contemporary art museum group in April 2012. The museum’s headquarters is located in Shenzhen, with museum venues across the country, including OCAT Shenzhen, the OCT Art and Design Gallery, OCAT Shanghai, OCAT Xi’an, OCAT Beijing and OCAT Wuhan. As the group’s first facility, OCAT Shenzhen has long been devoted to researching the theory and practice of Chinese and international contemporary art. Since its inception, the museum’s curatorial, research and collecting work has focused on creations and ideas in art.
November 21, 22 (Friday & Saturday) at 8 pm
by Grass Stage
November 20 （Thursday） at 8 pm
World Factory as An International Interaction
Speakers: Zhao Chuan, Simon Daw
November 22 （Saturday) at 4 pm
Grass Stage's Route to Social Theatre
Speaker: Grass Stage
November 22 (Saturday) at 2 pm
World Factory Themed Workshop
hosted by Metis
(Pre-registration needed to participate.)
November 23 (Sunday) at 1 pm
The Exploration of Theatre as Social Studies and Practice: World Factory as An Example
About the curator:
Zhao Chuan, writer, curator and theatre director, lives in Shanghai. He is the co-founder and director of Chinese grass-root theatre collective Grass Stage since 2005, and has been producing marginal but socially-conscious contemporary theatre and promoting new forms of social theatre and non-profit public spaces. His awards include the Unita Prize for New Novelists (2001). He has been invited to international literary, art and theatre festivals and events, and been visiting scholar and lecturer at influential universities in China and overseas.