A theatre piece by Thailand’s only dance movement psychotherapist is a soothing trust exercise for the audience.
As part of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s (BACC) fourth Perfomative Art Festival, B-Floor Theatre is staging an experiential piece by Dujdao Vadhanapakorn, Thailand’s only dance movement psychotherapist. Other dancers include veteran contemporary dancers Vidura Amranand and Amornsri Pattanasitdanggul, who is double-cast with Navinda Pachimsawat-Vadtanakovint.
On the fourth floor of the BACC, the audience walks past Vidura and Amornsri scribbling secrets away on clear boxes and skin in white marker before entering the large studio space. The space is occupied by a large, white square pool filled with water.
Dujdao Vadhanapakorn in a promotional image for "Secret Keeper." Photo courtesy of B-Floor's Facebook page
Dujdao, the eponymous Secret Keeper, makes herself at home in the pool. “How do you feel, sitting outside the space?” she says, like a serene cross between a psychotherapist and an inviting mermaid in white velvet tights. “Come and join me.” Audience members cannot help but shuffle into the pool, setting their chairs wherever they feel comfortable.
The Secret Keeper denotes the only three rules that must be followed in the space. One, that secrets stay in the space; two, that everyone focus on the current secret teller; and three, that the people in the space put aside their prejudices and attitudes for a while.
Soon, Amornsri in grey tights and Vidura in red, join the space after some gentle coaxing from the Secret Keeper.
“Promise you won’t judge me?” asks Amornsri, the secret teller, as Vidura, perhaps the Secret itself, forcefully manipulates her. “Even for my political views?”
“Of course not,” replies the Secret Keeper.
Amornsri Pattanasildaggul writing secrets
Audience members then follow the first secret teller’s suit, first by telling the Secret Keeper a secret while the audience watches from within the space, and then by allowing the Keeper to translate that sorrowful secret into a dance movement.
Dujdao, whose inspiration behind the space was to create a safe space of trust and connection, brings her dance psychotherapy to soothe audience members brave enough to venture forth with their secret. These “secret tellers” get the full experience of the experiential performance by allowing the Keeper to transform their pains and very real fears of societal judgement into art.
The entire concept is executed beautifully and effectively. Both Teller and Keeper sniff and dab at their eyes, with the Tellers suggesting dance movements to express their dark secrets.
Vidura Amranand covered with secrets
The Secret Keeper is a very human piece, not lofty, unattainable art. Dujdao shows that her body can be connected to the heart of any willing secret teller. The reference to political views may refer to individuals who cannot reveal their views to even their closest family or friends, much less click “Like” on anything that could risk them getting unfriended. One wonders, what the effects of “Secret Keeper” will be, if the audience members were not strangers, but classmates, co-workers, or family?
The masterful use of water as a soothing engagement of the senses, a sound effect creator, and a conduit of emotions—one can feel the ripples of the dancers as well as the nervous knee-jiggling of a secret teller—is executed economically and brilliantly.
Dujdao Vadhanapakorn and Amornsri Pattanasildaggul in "Secret Keeper"
All in all “Secret Keeper” is much-needed catharsis for Thai theatregoers—and from a siren-psychologist, no less. Be brave enough to raise your hand and whisper your secrets to her in the contained, 100 square meters of complete freedom in the country.
“Secret Keeper” will be running at the 4th floor of BACC at 19.30 until 23 August, except Mondays and Tuesdays. Book now at https://www.facebook.com/events/1603595586565459/.
Dujdao Vadhanapakorn as the Secret Keeper. Photo courtesy of B-Floor's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Bfloor.theatre.group)