When researching on a performing arts production in a comprehensive archive, on top of an archival video of the performance and its context, I am especially curious on the linkage of methodology, creative process and the production - purpose, process and result of each task/ workshop; how it in turn contribute to the creation of the piece; the reflection and refinement in the work process; and the perception and reception of the piece.
Back to the restage of Butterfly Lovers, it is particularly interesting to see the comparison of the result regarding the "what is school" discussion with 2006 and 2020 students; even in the execution - emphasizing individual experience with written text on paper in 2006 and the collaborated deliberation on whiteboard emphasizing intellectual connection in 2020; as well as reflecting the difference in their learning environment. As Yan mentioned, "understanding their thoughts is extremely important", which leads one to wonder to what end will this understanding serve the creation/ restage of a production? It would be intriguing to see how these keywords contribute to the creation in 2006 and restaging in 2020. What happens after getting to know what "school" associates to students in this brain-storming exercise? Are these keywords going to be performative stimulus? For this piece of information to be transformed as a knowledge, the purpose and the proposed functionality of the workshop should be recorded as well in the archive.
Yan here is doing a great job in digitalizing the fundamental resource of the piece in 2006 as he said some manuscript, brochure, notes, workshop material, video, media exposure and critics are well uploaded in their archive. For this archive to grow, in my opinion, it is essential to chip in on the intellectual capital of this restage in 2020, such as summarizing his observation and reflecting on the process on restaging and refining the piece, as well as possibly doing interview with students on their interpretation and performative quality.
Obviously we cannot go back to 2006 and record the "how" and "why" in the process of creating The Butterfly Lovers in the first place, of each artistic intention and choreographic rationale; though I wonder if the methodology and rationale were well-preserved, it would be most interesting to see how stagers/rehearsal mistresses re-interpret the choreographer's original idea into recreating a reinterpreted restage with nowadays context - using the same methodology workshop with original purpose, extract preferred material, transform into new movement as the choreographer intended and generate a new version of the piece (or a particular scene) with nowadays context without the involvement of the original choreographer.
Iris Tang is an HKAPA graduate who is currently pursuing her Masters degree. Her research interest is dance archive.