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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 07 June 2015 09:55

Expounding the Dharma with Body Language

Written by  Siow Lee Kien & Gan Chian Nee, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Body language performance was never easy, thus everyone went all out to practise together on the challenging stunts and facial expressions. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]

In the upcoming Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance, the body language team is made up of a group of passionate non-professionals like students, public members and young volunteers. Prior to the arrival of coaches from Taiwan, the team has learnt from video presentation. As body language is never easy, they have gone all out to practise the challenging stunts and facial expressions together.


Joy Lu, Chief Planner-cum-Director of Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance, and eight others flew in from Taiwan to conduct a three-day progress review from June 5-7, 2015.

Upon arrival, Chen Yi Yun, Chiang Chin Hsien and He Cai Wei from Taiwan Performers Association, immediately started to fine-tune the performers’ body language, resulting in a 90% improvement.

Mischievous fairy causing harm like a knife

The character of the mischievous fairy in the scene of “Four Evil Karmas of Speech” brought out the four kinds of unwholesome speech, that is, abusive language, lie, flattery and gossip. The fairy was wearing a vest with sharp knives to imply that unwholesome speech can hurt people like a knife.

On June 5, the creator of the mischievous fairy character, Yi Yun, met the enthusiastic Zheng Zhi Zhong for the first time. The latter had memorized almost everything taught by Yi Yun. Through the sutra study, Zhi Zhong realized that his character was important in influencing and alerting the audience on the harmfulness of unwholesome speech.

During the three-day activity, Zhi Zhong took the opportunity to correct the hand gestures and body language from Yi Yun as he was dissatisfied with his own interpretations through the video he watched.

Yi Yun was pleased with the overall attitude of the performers. She felt that the interpretation of the mischievous fairy in the video did not really bring out the character. Considering Zhi Zhong is new to the sutra, Yi Yun had proposed to simplify the sign language for him. But Zhi Zhong has decided to work hard in remembering each and every move taught by Yi Yun as his way of repaying the latter for her efforts.

From the verse “we find it delightful though it is poisonous”, Zhi Zhong recalled his own experience in pursuing something even though he knew it was not right. He hopes to give of his best with full comprehension of the verses.

Every scene is a microcosm of life

Body language instructor, Chin Hsien had personally demonstrated the body movements and eye expressions required for the portrayal of painters. These characters are portrayed by TIMA doctors and entrepreneurs, including the CEO of the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer, Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai from Top Glove. Driven by his wife, he had made time for practice.

Dr Foo from TIMA said, “Every scene depicted by the painters is a microcosm of life. When a thought arises, one must return to the original state of tranquillity.”

Other performers were made up of young volunteers, Tzu Chi Teenagers and Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth. They had practised on their own solely by watching youtube. From the initial rote learning to mood integration eventually, they were earnest in learning how to expound the Dharma using body language.

Bill Wong, an IT staff with Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, has assumed the role of group leader as he is familiar with Jing Si Hall. He has been a great help in bridging the communication gap on lighting and sound control. Using martial arts and his good physical fitness, he helps everyone to appreciate the Dharma through body language.

However, this group of youngsters were still worried that their performance may not meet Sister Joy’s expectation. Upon hearing that, Chin Hsien gave them this assurance, “Do not panic and get hurt! Although Sister Joy had wanted to provide guidance together with her team, you have all managed to do it!”

He also reminded the performers not to focus too much on the details, but to exaggerate each action and be in the mood. More important than body language is everyone’s mind. Forget about human nature temporarily and strive to figure out the character; it is not about acting but integration.

Repent and observe vegetarian precept

In the act “Repenting the Obstacle of Karmic Retributions”, Fu Jun Wu portrays a guy, who enjoys his life with two girlfriends, and meets with an accident in the end. This serves as a good reminder for all to abstain from fornication. He greatly appreciates this verse: “I repent being deeply entrenched in sensual love and desire; a husband must ensure his faithfulness”.

He admitted frankly that this verse has mirrored his real life. He had broken up with his girlfriend a year ago and till this day, he still feels sad about it. However, he has now put his love life aside and is exploring relationships with people. Since he encountered Tzu Chi in 2014, he has started to delve into the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and contemplate further quietly.

After seeing Huang Jun Xiong’s act in the scene “Three Evil Karmas of the Body” from the act “Repenting the Obstacle of Karma”, Sister Joy found that the former was not fierce enough in his interpretations of the verses:

Killing, stealing and sexual misconduct
are the three evil bodily karmas
Amongst all unwholesome karmas
killing is the worst
To satisfy craving, the intent of killing may arise
For the love of flesh and blood of other beings we kill
For the sake of wealth, malicious intent may arise
We rob others of their assets and lives

As he is not a brutal person in nature, these verses presented a great challenge to Jun Xiong. Even if he may not be able to bring acting to life, he hopes to go the extra mile to bring out the message on indiscriminate killing.



On June 7, the final day of the progress review, Chin Hsien praised everyone on their 90% improvement, and that they only have to tie up some loose ends and be careful with the steps to avoid tripping. Under the teachers’ thoughtful guidance, the body language team is ready to shoulder great responsibilities. Sister Joy was impressed that the young men have done it!

Xu Hui Hui also put on her Tzu Chi's grey shirt to help in the relief distribution. She said, "I am very happy to have the chance to help my neighbours. It is hoped that this little help will reduce their worries."

Hj. Mohamad, the village head, helped to lead the way. He said, "This village has a 100-year old history. This is the worst flood in 30 years. Tzu Chi volunteers are very efficient. You are here so quickly

 

Under the supervision of Teacher Chiang (right), some energetic Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth and Tzu Chi Teenagers also participated. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]   The mischievous fairy in the scene “Four Evil Karmas of Speech” was portrayed by Zheng Zhi Zhong (left) with guidance from Chen Yi Yun. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]

Under the supervision of Teacher Chiang (right), some energetic Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth and Tzu Chi Teenagers also participated. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]
 
The mischievous fairy in the scene “Four Evil Karmas of Speech” was portrayed by Zheng Zhi Zhong (left) with guidance from Chen Yi Yun. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]
 
With coaching from Chiang Chin Hsien (front), the body language team had improved their performance by 90%. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   As there were some stunts and difficult hopping, performers looked out for each other. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]

With coaching from Chiang Chin Hsien (front), the body language team had improved their performance by 90%. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
As there were some stunts and difficult hopping, performers looked out for each other. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]
 
The role of painters was played by TIMA doctors and entrepreneurs. [Photograph by Gan Cheah Teck]   Joy Lu was full of praise for the youngsters in their learning and performance. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

The role of painters was played by TIMA doctors and entrepreneurs. [Photograph by Gan Cheah Teck]
 
 
Joy Lu was full of praise for the youngsters in their learning and performance. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
Huang Jun Xiong (standing) will strive to study hard the challenging role in the scene “Three Evil Karmas of the Body” from the act “Repenting the Obstacle of Karma”. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   With his martial arts and good physical fitness, Bill Wong hopes to bring out the true meaning of the Dharma through body language. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]

Huang Jun Xiong (standing) will strive to study hard the challenging role in the scene “Three Evil Karmas of the Body” from the act “Repenting the Obstacle of Karma”. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
With his martial arts and good physical fitness, Bill Wong hopes to bring out the true meaning of the Dharma through body language. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]
 
Fu Jun Wu (left) portrays a guy who has two girlfriends. He greatly appreciates this verse: “I repent being deeply entrenched in sensual love and desire; a husband must ensure his faithfulness”. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]  

Fu Jun Wu (left) portrays a guy who has two girlfriends. He greatly appreciates this verse: “I repent being deeply entrenched in sensual love and desire; a husband must ensure his faithfulness”. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]