Friday, 20 April 2007

Premiere night

All these months have led to that day and now it’s gone like everything else. I don’t feel any sadness or yearning.
PLAY 2 PLAY goes as follows:
1. Prelude
2. Wall
3. Behind the Wall
4. Interfering dimensions
5. Triangular Response I (Inside)
6. Triangular Response II (Outside)
7. Slowly we waltz
8. Ewig

As I predicted, I clearly felt the audience was at lost for the first half of the piece, until the fifth movement. They kept watching but I knew people were confused and uneasy. I didn’t want to structure the movements as I did for NINA, and opted for more freedom of language, therefore discarding any rigid musical frame to just follow the strain of thought. A musical Virginia Wolf piece? But things started to become clear when voices appear in the fifth movement, led by Isabelle’s angel-like soprano voice.
The energy changed in the audience, perceptibly more and more involved and captivated by what was happening on stage. Then gradually, all that they had seen started to make sense, until the apotheosis of the finale.
I too felt the same, even if I wrote the music. This sensation of puzzlement throughout the first half is necessary and turn PLAY 2 PLAY to a true human experience, not merely a show that one watches and then forgets.

One good sign is that everyone stayed for the post-performance talk. We didn’t have much time and Mihara, being voluble as he usually is, put on a show of himself and took most of the talking time. I don’t mind that usually, but it didn’t have much to do with the question that was asked.
So when he handed back the microphone, it was time for the last question. The last person, and cute old lady sitting in the first row said it was the first Noism show for she attended, since actually, a person who couldn’t come gave her the ticket and urged her to go. She was deeply impressed by what she saw, although the choreography and the movements were too erotic to her taste. However she ended with a praise for the music, particularly the last movement that features the soprano, and the question was about who she was. I answered and briefly told my encounter with Isabelle, how I first saw her on stage as an actress, the subsequent friendship that took a few years to blossom and how I loved to use her angel voice. The interpreter summed what I said in only a mere few words, which surprised both me and the audience. I knew translations can somehow shorten the length of a sentence, but I had the funniest feeling many things were skipped. Jo had to come to her rescue and give a more accurate account of what I had said. The same happened to me during the press conference, so I didn’t expect much really.
I had fantasized I could suddenly master the Japanese language and astonish everyone with the fluidity of my conversation. Quite the contrary now, however I still hold some hope that the few words and sentences I can mutter now will improve in the coming years.
Jo later told me he felt irritated in such situations, that a decent theatre should provide someone who speaks decent, if not flawless English, especially since they invite lots of foreign artists and musicians to come and perform in Niigata.
I guess Westerners have this notion that Japanese are not so good at foreign languages, and if my personal experience has shown me it is not entirely true, such instances however prove them right.

So the premiere is now something of the past. We still have two performances in Niigata. I think today’s will be better. I have asked to seat with the back side audience, since I haven’t seen Play from that perspective yet.
Jo said he didn’t realized how totally different a show it turned to be.

The premiere was followed by a reception - delicious food and drinks. I now start to see how this Japanese functionality and efficiency can sometimes be a nuisance. We were only allowed one hour for the party, because the restaurant staff had to close the place at a given time and not later, as we only had half an hour for the post-show talk. And I guess that’s what discourages Jo and his staff when it comes to working as a resident company. They don’t take risks, freak out when new ideas are suggested, and have no vision.
Rings a bell, doesn’t it?

Tsuyoshi didn’t want to go straight to the hotel and end the evening like that, so he suggested to go out and have a drink, which I gladly accepted.
We met Klaas, one of his friends/colleagues from Paris who happened to be travelling in Japan and made his way to Niigata to see Play.
Tsuyoshi took us to a little Japanese den where two girls of Mihara’s people were already having dinner. Now that I think of it, I find it a bit odd, since they were at the reception too…

We drank and chatted until three in the morning. I was exhausted, but it felt good. One of the girl said that the state of drunkenness made her more tuned in with all things about palms reading and seeing people’s past and future, although she pointed out that it wasn’t about telling the future, but giving clues for a good decision making.

On our way to the hotel, we encountered countless young men in suits, all red faced with alcohol, walking arms in arms, stumbling and laughing. It was Friday night and tomorrow is the weekend…

Now the day is closing and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. The adventure has just begun!

I’m now starting to have fans in Japan. They come from all over to see Noism performances and patiently wait at the backstage door. They usually ask for an autograph and sometimes have a little present for me. One of the dancers, Aiichiro gently mocked me when he saw all these girls saying ‘An-san!’.

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