Wednesday 21 March 2007

Bunraku Theatre

I had a photo shoot today for the program. We had to re-create working situations that look good. The theatre offered a perfect setting. Lots of light, big walls, big spaces, nice volumes…
Me scribbling down music on the sheets, editing on the computer, attending the rehearsals, talking with Jo, talking with the dancers, mixing in the studio room…
I managed to talk Tomoko into having Isabelle and Christophe featured in the program. Their name will be mentioned with the addition of a small picture to make it more alive.
Tomoko also asked me to write a message to Tsuyoshi. Each four of us had to write a little line for someone. Jo and I always joked that Tsuyoshi was to be held responsible for all the troubles we have encountered until now with this wall he designed. But I resisted the impulse!

I attended a Bunraku show, that is, Japanese traditional puppet drama theatre. I had had a glimpse of it at the beginning of Takeshi Kitano’s film Dolls, but it was the first I saw one live. Bunraku is regarded as the most highly developed puppet theatre art in the world. Each puppet requires three puppeteers to bring it to life, and the manipulators appear openly, in full view, dressed in black so not to distract the audience. On the side of the stage, another small stage was built for the musicians: a narrator/singer and a shamisen player. I was surprised to see that the narrator and the musician changed for each new act. I later learned that there is some kind of hierarchy in the Bunraku world. The masters appear for the last act, which is usually the apotheosis of the tragedy, and they only can show their face as they manipulate the puppets.
I must admit I nearly fell asleep during the first act. It was such a change of pace from the rehearsal that my body needed time to adapt. A woman was also dozing next to me. I realized that many others did as well. I nearly wanted to leave. But the woman who invited me had got me a very good seat, and it would have been rude not to stay.
Jo later told me he also thought of leaving because of the same reason.
The second act caught my full attention and I was completely under the spell for the last act. The musicians, the narrator and especially the masters playing the puppet were mesmerising. The story follows usually the classic line of the ill-fated love story which ends with death or suicide, and the last act is always highly anticipated, for it is the apotheosis. 
I’m now very glad I didn’t foolishly leave and miss such a beautiful show. Jo and the people from the theatre were enchanted and proud that I enjoyed the show.

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