Get ready for afternoon tea. Drops of resin migrate along the immature poppy seed. They contain alkaloids, primarily morphine. Taking opium produces a feeling of euphoria, a calm ecstasy, an absence of pain that narrows the pupils. Like the poppy seed, the fragility, purity and subtlety of a hand-painted porcelain tea set carry a sweeping story of colonisation, capitalism and power. Like opium, tea sets sail on great ships, leaving its homeport to plough the seven seas. There is a story concealed in every reality. Through narration and illustrations on teacups and teapots, Neja Tomšič transforms the audience’s experience into a multi-layered event. Miniature paintings express the great stories of the 18th and 19th centuries. Just as tea encounters opium, the spectator encounters history. All you have to do is sit down, narrow your pupils, listen to the fragile voice of porcelain and let yourself be guided through the tea ceremony.
Expanded version for a maximum of 40 spectators. In English, with Czech surtitles.
The visual essay The Opium Clippers was first performed in 2017. The production has been staged in 11 countries to date.
In 2018, the project was published by Rostfrei press under the same title, The Opium Clippers. Named the best artist book of the 2017/2018 season, the publication won another award, for the best book design, at the Slovenian Book Fair, in the same year.
Concept, drawings and performance: Neja Tomšič
Porcelain/ceramics/cups: Anja Slapničar
Music: Gašper Torkar
Production: Gledališče Glej, Neja Tomšič
Supported by: MoTA – Museum of Transitory Art until 2018
Thanks to: Zisha – čajna hiša
Running time: 90 minutes
Partners for performance at Bazaar Festival: Studio ALTA, the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Prague.
Neja Tomšič is a performer, poet, writer, and adept storyteller, whose multidisciplinary approach to art extends into the visual arts and photography. She searches for stories from the past and experiments with their various narratives. She is a member of the Nonument Group, a collective of artists who work to revive forgotten architectural monuments of the 20th century through art.