Tag Archive: Hiraku Kawakami

Oct 17

What Happens When the Sun Comes Out

Sunday’s rehearsal started out as a bit of a disappointment. Due to some schedule adjustments to accommodate one member’s participation in another show, this was our last full-day rehearsal of 2011.

 

By the end of the day, two of the ensemble members had called in sick, one got stuck at work, and one showed up, only to run to another rehearsal after just an hour and forty-five minutes.

 

For the entire morning, there were only two of us (Mari and me). We ended up doing some voice work and started moving into some text work before lunch. (I need to remember to borrow some voice training books from YTG Voice for the Actor instructor Graig Russell… or even better, I need to borrow his brain.)

 

After lunch, Hiraku arrived and we moved into some movement work, although not the main exercises I had planned, since I need to save those for the whole group. Takahiko pulled in around 14:00, and then there were four of us. At this point, we finally had enough people to do what I consider the ultimate acting exercise: tag. I should probably write a whole post on tag and why it’s an incredible Theatre exercise someday, but that day is not today. For now, those of you not in the know shall have to scratch your head in puzzlement.

 

Hiruaku booked at 15:00, and I gave the remaining two members a few minutes break so I could sort out what to do with just the two of them.Mari and Takahiko practice their salsa.

 

I still had my list of exercises, and I chose several that didn’t require a large group, and we started again, this time on some physical Theatre exercises suggested to me by Utrecht School of the Arts grad and former YTG intern Jos Avezaat.

 

The last exercise we did was a breathing exercise, and it led to something that made the whole day worthwhile: our first spontaneously created scene since we started working together. I don’t want to say anything more, because I don’t want to ruin the scene’s effect when we eventually showcase it, but I will tell you that it involved Mari spending more than 40 minutes teaching and drilling some basic salsa steps to Takahiko.

 

So despite the rather iffy start to the day, and the difficulty shifting gears with people coming in and out, we accomplished something very important. The process we’re designing together allows for us to grab an idea or a promising tangent and run with it while it’s still hot in our minds, and today’s idea hints that although we’re still just feeling our way in the dark, maybe we’re on the right track.

 

I’m looking forward to having the whole group together again on Tuesday to pursue this new scene.

Sep 11

YT Ensemble, Assemble!

The Ytheatre ensemble after our first rehearsal.

Left to right:
Hiraku Kawakami, Mari Kawamura, Mayu Cho, Takahiko Arai, Andrew Woolner (holding the camera)

The Yokohama Theatre Ensemble met for the first time as a unit this past Friday at the Kanagawa Earth Plaza (or Global Citizens Plaza, or whatever it’s called).

 

In addition to myself, the ensemble includes four brave souls: Hiraku Kawakami, Mari Kawamura, Mayu Cho, and Takahiko Arai. I say brave because we’re doing something different than every single one of us is used to while working on Theatre.

 

Normally when a group of strangers comes together in the name of Theatre here in Japan, we know a few things going in:

  • what show we are going to do
  • what the show will be like (style, content, etc.)
  • what the rehearsal process will be
  • when the show will be going up
  • what part(s) each person is going to play

The YT Ensemble knows none of these things. Well, we do know that our first show will be called Wall of Shame: The Musical, and that we hope to perform it for the first time sometime near the end of this calendar year. I’ve set that as the first show, because, firstly, I believe that it’s an important show to do, and secondly, I think that it’s important to have a first project in the pipe in order to prime our creative processes. In the future, we will be developing the shows together, as a group.

 

But other than the name of the show and the vague theme of journalism and the 3/11 earthquake, we know nothing. Not what the form of the show will be, not what the content will be, not even a running time. And that’s kind of the point.

 

So, that’s kind of scary. We’re creating Theatre without so many of the safety nets that we’re all used to. The worst safety net to work without (at least for me) is that of enforced relationships. With a scripted show, or a devised piece developed with a proper ‘director’, there are excuses to break social taboos. For instance, the script or the director will frequently dictate to you your in-show relationship with another character. If that relationship is intimate or hurtful, certain behaviours on your part are appropriate within the context of the rehearsal room. With people who have worked together for a long time, this becomes less of an issue, of course, but the five ensemble members have never worked with each other before. Moreover, we didn’t even know each other before forming the ensemble. I predict that we’re going to spend a lot of time, if I may switch metaphors, just breaking the walls we’ve all put up around ourselves. More time than usual for a cast.

 

I will post further as things develop, but I think the intimacy of the ensemble will be a recurring theme for the first little while as we try to figure out ways to break down the social walls between us. That in itself might make a good show someday…