In 2007 Patrick Palucki created a multi-media-dance-opera for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations ESCAP headquarters in Bangkok with Ruth Pongstaphone and Ellen Reid. The brief was to create a theatrical performance that reflects on the United Nations‘ founding-history, goals and future prospects with reference to the cultural hemisphere of Asia. Beyond that we intended make a statement on humanity’s incapability to adjust it’s growth and agenda to the limits of the planetary ecosystem as being the overarching threat for life on earth.
Although provoking controversy in the making, the show went on stage in the main conference hall on 28.3.2007 in front of 62 state-delegations, the executive secretary H.E. Kim Hak Su, the Princess of Thailand H.R.H. Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Prime Minister of Thailand Surayud Chulanont, Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen and the UN-staff. It was a UN-internal celebration, the press was excluded.
The piece was developed from scratch in only 4 weeks. It Incorporates 11 dancers performing Thai Classical Khon Dance, Thai Folk Dance, Butoh and Contemporary Dance, a choir of 40 singers, a drum-master from Chiang Mai, three large video projections and an original musical score.
The plot travels through the cycle of destruction, creation and preservation as represented by the trinity shiva-brahma-vishnu in Hindu cosmology.
As the experience of WWII and the atom-bombing of Japan set forth a political atmosphere in which the United Nations were founded these circumstances are the subject of the first part.
The destruction brought on is represented on the performative level by a Thai adaptation of the Nataraja-dance-form of the hindu-deity shiva and his warlords who perform a dance of destruction. This is juxtaposed by Japanese Butoh-dance which is sometimes thought of as artistic transformation of the nuclear experience. The spoken words are excerpts from the Hibakusha Documents, which are first-person-accounts of the nuclear survivors.
This sets the grounds to start a process of creation – the founding the United Nations in part two. Projections show schematic iconography known from system science. Single units are building up into weblike clusters. So, after masscollapsing nuclear bonds destroying the very fabric of matter, part two moves into the recursive process of bonding – of individuals into families, tribes, nations and United Nations – creating the very fabric of societies.
The third part deals with the actualities of work done and to be done by the United Nations. The libretto features excerpts of the United Nations Charter and of the UN Millenium Goals (to be achieved by 2020). The projections show historical footage of the inaugurated headquarters in Bangkok, the planning of the pan-asian highway-network as well as a range of contemporary UN projects. This is foliowed by a humming of various media excerpts and quotes among others by the current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Part three ends with a recording of the thoughts of a disenchanted J. R. Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb, after having witnessed the first nuclear detonation at the „Trinity“ test site.