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Review: PUNISHMENT from Sean Tuan John

(December 03, 2014)

Review: PUNISHMENT from Sean Tuan John
Deviance and Dance

Punishment - Aberystwyth Arts Centre


The smell of sweat and spilt beer resonates through the theatre. It is visceral, wholly masculine and oppressively threatening.

PUNISHMENT, Sean Tuan John’s latest performance masterpiece, explores the dark side of human nature through challenging physical theatre and contemporary dance. What makes a person 'evil'? Can we choose to be 'good'? This piece looks at people on the outside; those rejected by society, marginalised and branded ‘deviant’.

The performance itself is uncompromising: assaulting the senses and challenging the audience's perception of society, of criminals and even themselves, as we explore the stories of the four protagonists and their victims.

Choreographer and director Sean Tuan John tells us: "Art is supposed to make you react; to question your ideas and beliefs. It can also throw light onto what society considers to be normal behaviour and normal treatment. PUNISHMENT throws all of our perceptions about good and evil into question; it’s a very powerful piece. Physical theatre is a way of expressing myself and my thoughts to an audience, in order to make them feel and think … to reconsider things they have always taken for granted.

I work with the dancers and performers themselves in order to create a piece that’s completely organic. I have the narrative and the structure in my head, but the choreographic process must be responsive and must come from the performers as a collective, so we can all express the way the themes and ideas affect us individually, and as a group. We spend a great deal of time in rehearsal trying out ideas, confronting notions that many people would find distressing, and we work out how to physicalise this darkness to tell our story to the audience."

Jenny Allan, December 2014

PUNISHMENT, was at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 1 November 2014, before moving to Chapter Theatre, Cardiff for three nights, 27-29 November 2014.

Take a look at some images of the performance on Flickr, here

Follow Sean on Twitter @STJDance or on Facebook

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