★★★★★ Sydney Morning Herald
★★★★ The Financial Times, The Independent
“A piece of physical and visual theatre capable of swallowing you whole.” Online magazine Exeunt
“The choreography is wonderfully eclectic and expressive, and performed by all four men with exquisite precision and feeling.”
The Financial Times
“Overwhelming… one’s memories of the performance will stay forever.” Website The Public Review
An intimate, funny and moving exploration of human behaviour
We live in a busy world of high-pressure targets and even higher expectations, struggling on the verge of collapse…
Institute is a visually captivating, emotionally driven performance, which openly invites its audience to consider what it means to care and be cared for.
The programme contains strong language, some English, German and French, partly with Chinese and English surtitles.
With post-performance talk on 7 Sep (Conducted in English)
Recommended for ages 12 and above. Children under the age of 6 will not be admitted. One ticket per person regardless of age.
The running time of each performance is about 1 hour 15 minutes without intermission.
Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers and audiences who leave their seats during the performance will not be seated.
'Beyond Multi-arts’ Series: Institute by Gecko (UK)
Gecko, founded in 2001 and winner of the Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is one of the leading physical theatre companies in the United Kingdom. Famed for its visceral, ambitious and visual theatre, Gecko creates works through collaboration, experimentation and play. Their productions have toured to over 20 countries and various international arts festivals. Gecko received brilliant reviews for their performances of Missing (Hong Kong 2015), Institute (Shanghai 2018), and their latest work, The Wedding, staged at the Barbican Theatre in London earlier this year.
Artistic Director: Amit Lahav
Created by: Amit Lahav
Producer: Rosalind Wynn
Production Manager: Chris Swain
Devising Performers: Chris Evans, Francois Testory, Ryen Perkins-Ganges, Amit Lahav
Solo Vocalist: Francois Testory
Entering the Institute to Peer into Male Love and Pain
Text: William W.Y. Chan
Gecko, a theatre company from the UK, was founded by Artistic Director Amit Lahav in 2001. He has been collaborating with contemporary dancers, physical actors and circus performers to create unique theatre productions incorporating different theatrical elements and languages. In just over a decade, Gecko has achieved Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status, and has developed seven highly popular plays.
Missing, which is still on tour, came to Hong Kong in 2015. The spectacular physical performances, the ever-changing lighting and set design, and the manipulation of the wonderful puppets and props impressed local audiences. In September this year, Gecko will return to Hong Kong, bringing another non-verbal physical and visual drama—Institute.
With a running time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, Institute premiered in 2014 with a cast of four actors. The first part focuses mainly on the daily work routines and emotional lives of two middle-aged men, interspersed with memories of the past. However, as the story develops, we gradually discover more of the complex backstory. The relationship between characters and the set changes also give rise to more imaginings...
Exploring compassion and care between people
The director hopes to explore the concept and practice of "care" in contemporary society through this work. He believes that in a busy and ever-changing city, where people must hit targets and meet expectations in an endless struggle to get ahead, personal connections have long since fragmented, and many people are no longer willing to communicate with others. Although caring for and about the vulnerable, and trusting others seem to be instinctual to humans, do we still know how to protect and care for others? Do we still have the ability to read the emotions of others?
In early 2013, right at the start of the creative process, the creative team invited artists from different backgrounds, people on benefits, patients and their caregivers to explore and focus on the themes of mental health and care. The creative content has been greatly enriched through this research and the personal sharings.
Interestingly, Institute was originally developed by a cast of three actors and one actress, with the woman playing the role of the traditional caregiver. However, after nearly two years of development, the decision was made to replace the actress with an actor, in order to focus on the mechanisms of care between men, to challenge audience stereotypes through the contrast between strength and fragility, and to think more about men's mental health.
In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, although women are more likely than men to suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, men's suicide rate is three times that of women! The reason is that men often feel ashamed when they encounter problems and are unwilling to seek attention from others. Therefore, another of Gecko’s aims is to highlight this problem through Institute.
Rich imagery inspires further imagination
The theatrical form of Institute displays all the usual Gecko hallmarks in terms of creative process and experimental direction. At each stage of creation, the director and performers work closely with the sound and technology departments to develop the work together, in the spirit of "Total Theatre”. The stories are told through images and sounds as well as by the performers. Therefore, the audience not only gets to enjoy the comic timing of the four actors, the beautiful formations embodying internal emotional states, and the extraordinarily intuitive way they present the paradox of intimacy and power between men, but also the way that the flexible, multifaceted scenery and precise lighting effects contribute organically to plot development, in a spectacular poetic counterpoint for this dark tragicomedy.
Although the director maintains that the theme of the piece is the relationship between those who care for and those who receive care, the richly intertwined images on stage allow for a multitude of interpretations. The title of the play, “Institute”, can refer to an organisation, a group, an educational or research institute, but it can also mean a building (such as a hospital or a prison), or the establishment or creation of systems. Interestingly, each of the above explanations can be experienced through the stage set, sound design and the arc of the characters. Each audience member can interpret the work through the prism of their own experience. At this particular moment in Hong Kong, I believe that the theme of freedom versus control is particularly resonant.
On the whole, the performances of Gecko are carefully planned and skilfully executed. Adults, children, first-time and habitual theatre goers will all find it absorbing. So sit back and enjoy the high-energy performances of Institute—it is a feast for both the ears and the eyes.
William W.Y. Chan
A veteran performing arts critic and media producer, William Chan has been engaged mainly in performing arts research and media education in recent years.
(Translated by Amy Ng)
Appreciation Articles Co-ordinated and Edited by
Tickets available from 5 July onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on internet, mobile ticketing app and credit card telephone booking.
Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Group Booking Discount*
For each purchase of standard tickets for stage programme(s) in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:
10% off for 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.
‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series Package Discount*
For each purchase of standard tickets for different stage programmes in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series, the following concession applies:
10 % off for any 2 programmes; 15 % off for any 3 programmes; 20% off for 4 or more programmes.
*Not applicable to tickets for all lectures and workshops in the ‘Beyond Multi-arts’ Series.
Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers. Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.
Internet Booking www.urbtix.hk
Mobile Ticketing App My URBTIX
Credit Card Telephone Booking 2111 5999
Ticketing Enquiries 3761 6661
Programme Enquiries 2268 7323
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.
The programme does not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Date: 25.8.2019 (Sun)
Topic: Decoding Intimacy
Moderator: Bernice CHAN (General Manager, IATC-HK)
Speakers: William CHAN Wai-yam (Dance and Theatre Critic)
Cally YU (Dance and Culture Critic, Playwright)
Conducted in Cantonese
Free Admission. Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Organised and Coordinated by