Who mandates the life of a child?
Set in a world with a zero child policy as an answer to overpopulation and conflicts over resources, Burying Children follows the lives of a nomadic community of women who leave the City in protest, and seek refuge back in mother nature. Examining processes of burying children within ourselves or abandoning the very idea of bearing children in a world without hope for the future, this ensemble dance theatre work follows several stories in search of freedom, reprieve, or revenge.
Meet the Director
Khairul is a theatre director, playwright, designer, and acting teacher currently pursuing a PhD on scholarship at De Montfort University (Leicester, UK). Co-Founder and co-artistic director of Bold Moment Theatre & Actor Training, a graduate of MA Actor Training & Coaching at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2018 (London, UK), and former Directing Resident at Singapore Repertory Theatre (2016-2017). Also, he is currently a research team member of the Architects of Realities, a National Arts Council funded ‘Arts x Tech’ research initiative. Khairul teaches Meisner, Viewpoints, and Chekhov acting techniques at Bold Moment. His directing inspirations include Katie Mitchell, Ivo Van Hove, and Pina Bausch. Recent directing credits include ‘Lady Death’ (December 2019), Water Child (2020), ‘Constellations’ (February 2022), and 'Sita of Troy' (March 2022). ‘Sita of Troy’ is a National Arts Council SEPG-funded debut production of Bold Moment.
Burying Children is a landmark production for me as a theatre artist. Developing it as producer, writer, director, choreographer and production designer, the project marks a decade since my first work that I created while barely out of college, also created as an auteur.
As with all my original works, they are borne from a burning question that requires research, conversation, expressive explorations and negotiations through the theatrical art form. Perhaps my main question with this show is, “who makes the choices for a life?”, how do we stake our independence if the world encroaches on it? Discourses surrounding freedom, agency, and self-autonomy have been ongoing since the human mind gained self realising sentience. By no means I purport to offer an answer, but cultivated Burying Children as a grounds for the questions to be engaged with in our contemporary social and political climate.
As co-artistic directors of Bold Moment, Kristina Pakhomova and I began the first conversations for the next Bold Moment project while she reflected on the ongoing situation in her home country and I contemplated over school shootings and government policies that violate human agency. However, I decided to focus on areas that I have a personal experience with for my process and let the larger themes serve as a backdrop to the personal lives of the characters that were created in collaboration with the ensemble of women, who are mostly mothers. Of course, for mothers, the subject of having to bury children is a horrifying prospect, and to create a dance theatre piece with such a title requires nuanced approaches to the contexts and responses that they contribute to the writing, I applaud and thank the amazing women of the ensemble for their bravery and contributions to the work. For the women who aren’t mothers, they deal with the prospect of being one and whether their lives would warrant bringing a child into this world, or whether they should bury that idea altogether. It becomes an issue however, when the choices are made for them, even if it might seem to be the right one for some. As a straight male helming the piece who feels far off from planning on having children, I have found the lively discussions and sometimes arguments in rehearsals to give me plenty of insights, points of view that find their way into the work or my own navigations with the choice, right or even duty to procreate or not.
The choice to explore this deliberation through dance theatre comes from my continued enquiry into the medium of live theatrical expression. With the recent increased proliferation of multi-medium theatre experiences and the fact that I am writing my PhD in Actor Training with Virtual Reality, I wanted to carve out a separate area of my practice, keeping Burying Children rooted in the live body, time and space. With the subject matters being potentially highly political, controversial and lengthily discursive, I wanted to allow the responses to the contexts emerge through physical expression; how does the live human body reconcile with the mind games that we play with ourselves? What does the body want to say to the choices that our mind believes it has made up? What does nature have to say about the way we have nurtured ourselves? Let us unearth what we have buried, and bear who we are or can be.