e never forgets
"A performance that touches one's soul."
(Commissioned by the 2004 New Vision Arts Festival)
"There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Our age is obsessed with the desire to forget and to fulfill that desire we have given over to the demon of speed." Milan Kundera from his novel 'Slowness'
What is it we want to forget? Seeing the world through the elephant's eyes. Connecting the missing links. Searching for the lost harmony.
A 5000 kg African elephant has gone MISSING! No trace of footprints. No body has been found. She simply vanished into thin air. Where has she gone? Will we find her eventually? As time passes, will the memory of this tender, sensitive creature fade away, like other incidents and people we encounter daily?
Theatre du Pif's e never forgets is a mysterious journey into the world of vanishing elephants and takes the audience on a voyage of rediscovery in the search for missing links between people and a long lost harmony in the modern fast-paced city.
Inspired by Haruki Murakami's short story The Elephant Vanishes and Milan Kundera's novella Slowness, e never forgets was a unique collaboration which drew 6 artists from diverse cultures who were living in similar urban environments. It featured the South Korean composer and rock musician Sung Ki-wan (Seoul), Japanese dancer Makoto Matsushima (Tokyo), the celebrated Hong Kong actor Lee Chun-chow, Bonni Chan and Sean Curran of Theatre du Pif. Combining the worlds of Murakami and Kundera with life in the modern Asian metropolis, the performance was enjoyed by many at the 2004 New Vision Arts Festival.
Audience's feedback from e never forgets
"I'm happy that such a performance and theatre group exists in Hong Kong because city life can drain away ones imagination. Thank you! Keep up the great work."
"Bravo! I loved the music and am very happy to see you going from strength to strength."
"An excellent production. Looking forward to see more Theatre du Pif shows."
Is there a link between Speed and anger? Speed and memory? Speed and alienation? Speed and happiness or the lack of it? We began to ask these questions early in the project and were then drawn to Milan Kundera's novella Slowness. In it, Kundera suggests there lies a secret bond between slowness and memory between speed and forgetting and that in our modern era, we have a strong desire to forget. But what are we trying to forget? And have we really given ourselves over to the demon of Speed?
In contrast to our lives in the fast lane an elephant's existence seems positively unhurried. Our interest in Elephants arose from a short story, we read by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami called The Elephant Vanishes. In it a salesman living in a modern Asian city narrates the mysterious story of a vanishing elephant from his local zoo and the effect this has on his life.
From this simple tale emerges a theme of disenchantment and alienation in the modern city which seemed to co-exist with the discoveries we had made during our research into the cult of Speed within contemporary society.
Murakami tells us very little about the Elephant that vanishes apart from his age "he was a very old African elephant" We started to research these incredible animals and found that they are extremely social creatures often belonging to large groups that eat, drink, rest, travel and keep constant contact with each other.
In Africa there is a saying that a solitary elephant is not an elephant at all. It struck us that in a world where so many are lonely and alienated from the society they live in, we could learn much from our long trunked neighbours.
We recalled the old adage, an 'Elephant never forgets' and thought about Kundera and his belief that we live in an age where people want to forget. Kundera, Speed, Murakami and Elephants have all inspired this production as have our collaborators Lee Chun Chow, Makoto, Kiwan, Tae-Hyo who all brought skill knowledge and passion to the project.
It has been a special journey.