Arts Centre Melbourne teams with VCA, The University of Melbourne and ACMI for Asia TOPA contemporary performances

Arts Centre Melbourne has joined with the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne and ACMI, to present a diverse range of specially commissioned contemporary dance and theatre and installation based performances created and performed by artists from Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia. These performances are explored below.

The Seen and Unseen

A mesmerising convergence of contemporary Indonesian dance and physical storytelling, The Seen and Unseen is adapted by Indonesian artist Kamila Andini from her internationally acclaimed film of the same name.

Tantri and Tantra are twins born under the full moon. Inseparable in life, the line between reality and the dream world begins to blur as one life ebbs away and the other must begin anew.

Directed by the award-winning Andini, this dance and theatre production is a unique collaboration with Indonesian choreographer Ida Ayu Wayan Satyani and Australian theatre makers Adena Jacobs, Eugyeene Teh and Jenny Hector. Underpinning the production is the Balinese philosophy of Sekala Niskala (“the seen and unseen”) a fundamentally dualist spiritual structure that describes what we cannot see as having equal value to what is seen in the world.

On the Australian stage for the first time, a cast of extraordinary child performers from Bali’s Komunitas Bumi Bajra bring a captivating honesty and playful energy to profound meditations on life, grief and hope.

The Seen and Unseen is Asia TOPA’s third co-commission and collaboration with The Esplanade – Theatres On The Bay (Singapore) following Satan Jawa and Dancing with Death in 2017.

The Mysterious Lai Teck

Acclaimed Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen guides audiences into the Cold War’s labyrinthine underworld of Lai Teck, Vietnamese born, Malayan Communist Party leader (1939 – 1947) and triple agent working for the French, British and Japanese secret police in a visual masterpiece called The Mysterious Lai Teck.

Ho’s contemporary performance installation is a snapshot of the shifting face of Southeast Asia in the Age of Treason, an evocative and haunting tale of lies and counter-lies, espionage and treachery.

Lai Teck’s other life as a triple agent only came to light after his death in 1947, for those who believe that he died. Shadow play, projection and music are used to reconstruct the life of a man who accrued 30 pseudonyms and about whom almost no biographical details are known.

The Mysterious Lai Teck was commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Arts and co-produced by Asia TOPA, International Summer Festival Kampnagel (Hamburg), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), TPAM Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama (Japan), National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art (Korea), Holland Festival (Amsterdam) and Red Brick Art Museum (Beijing).

Virtual Intimacy

Artistic Director of VM Studio + Very Theatre (狠主流 & 狠劇) Yen Chou and Artistic Director of ActNow Theatre Edwin Kemp Attrill invite participants to the world premiere of Virtual Intimacy, a bilingual performance in English and Mandarin exploring technology and the ways in which it shapes our relationships with others.

Developed from workshops with local queer communities, it is a live performance integrating mobile technology and online projections exploring the question of ‘what is intimacy?’ in an increasingly virtual world. Participants are invited to reveal information about themselves openly and anonymously, and from this, a post-digital work of participatory theatre evolves.

Virtual Intimacy draws on its makers’ practices in film, multimedia and participatory storytelling. Audiences should expect to play a part in the live conversations happening within the performance and bring a charged smartphone with internet access to explore their intimate, digital selves.

South Australia’s ActNow Theatre joins with Taiwan’s Very Theatre for this unique performance experiment in an Asia TOPA co-commission with National Theatre & Concert Hall, Taipei.

The performance is restricted to 18+.

Bookings and more information are available at

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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