SK!N: An artist statement
TerryandTheCuz share the artist’s statement that was part of the proposal that secured funding from the Krishen Jit Astro Fund for their project, SK!N. This project would go on to be seen by international performing arts festival directors at Pitchpad ASEAN. It previewed for audiences at the George Town Arts Festival and was the only performance from Asia invited to pitch at the 2015 ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Congress in New York. The full length production premiered in Kuala Lumpur in August, 2016 and a successful crowdfunding campaign also secured their tour to Australia in September. Several more countries are scheduled on their upcoming tour.
The work that we do stems out of a passion to change the idea of what theatre is and can do. We have been strongly influenced by various forms of contemporary work in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, theatrical and otherwise. We believe the cultural gap between these works and Malaysian work can be bridged fairly easily. This is the idea that we want to push – theatre-making without boundaries in a world that is shrinking.
We believe that art is here to promote thought and opinions, to give us different points of view and to create real human connections. This is increasingly important as our societies grow more global, more competitive and more disconnected – the humanizing force of art is one of the best ways to give ourselves a sense of others’ perspectives, and that this is something we direly need.
The way in which TerryandTheCuz fosters connection is that our work is focused primarily on the audience/user experience. We strive to create performances/projects that provoke, engage and surprise our audiences. We center our work on the question, WHY ARE THE AUDIENCE HERE? And whilst being mindful; skewing and shifting their expectations; challenging their idea of what performance should or can be; where the line between performer and audience are blurred and borders questioned. We continuously study these methods carefully, searching actively for more innovative and exciting ways to give our audiences things they’ve never seen/experienced before, and learning how best to move them, metaphorically and literally.
Thus you can see that although we work in performing arts as a medium, the performance aspect of each of our works has only been a small part of a much larger whole. The design is not there just to complement the performance – rather, the performance is merely the cathartic segment of a painstakingly curated audience experience.
SK!N is our most audacious human experiment in theatre yet. It brings to a head all of the techniques outlined above, which is particularly appropriate given the nature of the subject matter; human trafficking. In SK!N, the dance is not the sole art. It is part of a grand design, like we all are. We acknowledge that a piece of theatre is not likely to impact the economies that create modern slavery in any significant way. We are not aiming to change the world. We are aiming to give the audience members an experience that makes them aware of the connection they already have with the people whose stories we are telling. An experience that humanizes us as well as them.
TerryandTheCuz constantly seek to develop and extend performance-making practices to find new forms, voices and narratives in an endeavour to provide artistic solutions with a truly global appeal.