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The Power of Collaboration in APAF
Published December 6, 2020

November 19 – December 5, 2017
Tokyo Metropolitan Theater and Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

By Abner Delina Jr.

The APAF-Asian Performing Arts Forum is a platform to seek mutual understanding and to encourage collaborations among young performing artists in Asian countries. I felt very honored and happy to represent the Philippines, experience Japan and collaborate with fellow Asian artists.

On the first day, we were introduced to the performance space at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater. Producer Satoshi Miyagi (General Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Festival and the General Artistic Director of SPAC-Shizuoka Performing Arts Center), the Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo Metropolitan Government welcomed us all. Miyagi-san encouraged us to focus on our differences, beyond our similarities. His message made a lot of sense to me in the next days. Then, the directors presented their concepts and the performers shared short pieces as their self-introduction. In the evening, off we went to SPAC to collaborate on a piece, which we performed at Tokyo at the end of the workshop. 

The night sky was full of stars when we arrived at Shizuoka. I felt very blessed to have been a part of the “Beautiful Trauma” team under our director Yustiansyah Lesmana from Indonesia. I collaborated with three other actors: Pathavee Thepkraiwan from Thailand and Miyuki Mikata and Takeru Ishii, both from Japan. We had an assistant director Tamami-san, Japanese/English interpreter Eriko-san and Japanese/Indonesian interpreter Seiko-san. The discipline and respect of each member of our team for the craft was very inspiring. We started as strangers and yet, we became a family bound by the arts. 

We met at the octagon-shaped studio at SPAC every day. We exchanged ideas leading to simulations, rehearsals and constant shaping of our performances. Our piece was about the binaries of war and how we were changed by it through time. Shizuoka became more memorable because of the conversations we shared over good food, the relationships we started and nurtured, and the bliss that inspired us every day. The solitude we experienced amid the cold weather was balanced by the warmth of love shared by all the people. I love every bit of Shizuoka that on our last day, I was able to write a poem about the beautiful Mount Fuji. 

In Tokyo, we focused on technical rehearsals leading to our performances. We watched “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Singapore’s The Finger Players ‘’Drums.” I learned immensely from all discussions, especially from Satoshi Miyagi’s talk. I saw great artistic possibilities to create more, especially with Asian artists. Miyagi-san was right about the differences. We grow not only by sameness but by understanding diversity in societies. Inter-cultural collaboration is powerful. It encourages us to communicate through languages beyond words. In collaboration, we become more human to one another. 

APAF empowered my love for art and collaboration. I am grateful for this life-changing opportunity. I saw Asia through my fellow APAF artists. Our rich culture makes me proud to be an Asian and I will use everything I gained in APAF to continue my journey. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the Japan Foundation and to everyone who made this beautiful experience possible!

Abner Delina Jr. is an actor, coach and director for theater, film and television. He is an AB Arts Management graduate, and an Artistic Excellence Awardee of the Philippine High School for the Arts. A Theater Arts academic, he works with the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Department of Education for arts education and arts therapy programs in the Philippines. He leads BLACK CANVAS, a multi-arts platform for collaboration.

This Article was first published in The Japan Foundation, Manila Suki Magazine February 2018.