By Sofia Jesus

Guns and Flowers, to be staged at Ox Warehouse on April 21 and 22, is an experimental theatre play that invites the audience to reflect on the issue of war and the gender bias around it.

It addresses the situation of “women in war time and post-war time,” the play’s director and playwright, local artist Hope Chiang, tells mART. After doing some research, she realised women “suffered a lot” for having to take on guns, like men did, but being looked at in a different way because of that. “They probably wouldn’t want to reveal that,” she explains, because, instead of the “glory” some men would receive for taking part in a war, women would be considered “strange” for doing such a “terrible” thing. “It’s a huge topic.”

The play results from a collaboration between Macau and Taiwan, under the Ox Warehouse project Seeds in Spring. It is also a “very interdisciplinary work,” Ms Chiang says.

Participants in this experimental theatre project include a painter from Taiwan who also works with prisoners and deals with human rights issues; a musician; and a non-professional actress who is also involved in social issues. “I wanted to hear more voices from different professions,” Ms Chiang explains.

Music is “a very strong element in the play,” the director tells mART. Music can “comfort” people — physically wounded or mentally hurt due to war — but it can also “encourage” people to actually “go to war”.

The play is also “quite strong” visually, she adds, as the painter from Taiwan does sketches live with a kind of coloured powder, and the stage is darkened to try to bring the audience “to an age of life or death”. “The stories are kind of in between hell and reality — no heaven yet.”

Although defying the audience to experience “uncomfortable feelings,” Ms Chiang says she also hopes to “involve the audience in the enlightenment”.

Many Macau people, she says, have been lucky to not have to experience war. She would like the audience to reflect on the topic and “understand more about it”.