Monday, 25 July 2016

One Woman Dramaturgy: T. Sato @ Edfringe 2016

adapted, directed & performed by T. Sato.

A unique yet classical version of Macbeth, performed by a single player as a full-production. Even in a normal full-cast production, the audience tend to only look at the actor who is speaking. This production uses that habit of the audience to do the trick. 

A single player keeps acting against an illusion of the opposite character which has been created in audience’s eyes/minds beforehand. The change of the character is simply suggested by a subtle turning of the head.

Why does a Japanese actress embark on a solo show of Shakespeare in English? --because she foolishly decided to train in English Theatre and Shakespeare in the UK, without any previous acting experience in her own language. 

After training, Sato went back to Japan only to find out that she had become an alien in her native acting world, and ended up with starting small storytelling shows in English by herself.

Feeling alone and isolated, Sato was inspired by the words of the late actress Dilys Hamlett, who encouraged her to pursue the acting career rather than her initial interest of directing: she “has a rare quality and should go for as an actress—I hope she will”.  

Sato thought that, even on her own, if she would rehearse each part one by one as if she was given that part in a normal production and eventually put them together, it might make a full production of Shakespeare. 

Sato's adaptation of Macbeth is the result, following the classic story as told by Hecate, the goddess of Crossroads, from her point of view. It is straightforward in style, preserving much of the original folio text.   

Venue 40 (Quaker Meeting House) 16-20Aug at 20:30 (1hour)

What was the inspiration for this performance?
To imagine Shakespeare’s motivation to write this particular play, especially the intention behind the witches’ chants. I looked into various historical backgrounds to figure out these things.

Is theatre still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
Yes, although perhaps it depends on the culture/country the performance takes place. 

For instance in Japan, people simply shy away from 'the public discussion of ideas' as such—so for them(us) theatre in the first place does not serve as such a space. Theatre experience to Japanese audience is closer to watching films. Usually there is very little exchange of ideas between the performer and the audience. 

Audience is actively ‘perceive’, politely waiting to be only given.  

In general, audience come to theatre to see their favorite actors rather than a play itself, or to watch a fantasy world on stage, away from their daily life reality. I believe theatre is mainly expected to be a space to provide pure entertainment or dream world (=less reality is preferred), and the performers' work is to fulfill this needs of audience. I suppose it is quite different from the UK theatre.

In the UK, I personally feel it is still the space where people consolidate their ideas and also identity. People seem to learn a lot by observing the pseudo-reality on stage: theatre experience in the UK can be the nearest to your own experience of life situation. 

How did you become interested in making performance?
By accidentally watching Peter Brook’s The Tempest in Ginza Tokyo about 25 years ago. To encounter the western theatre for the first time (reality on stage and thoughts/philosophy behind the performance) was memorable experience, and it must have led me to start my theatre training in the UK 4~5 years later.  

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
I believe it was. I always go for the background and history as well as the text to interpret Shakespearean plays. Then once my ideas become solid, start to build the best way to present my interpretation of the play. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Whatever they get from my interpretation of the play. Some, perhaps, might get a hidden satire to the present time, which I try to make not obvious—it would be great.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Making the performance very simple and clear, and executing it as precisely and accurately as possible on stage. If I do not act well, audience would not get what I try to present. After all, it is a one woman production.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
It seems that my work is a mixed-result of my classical English theatre training(only theatre training I got) and Japanese traditional story telling which I was familiar with as audience since my childhood, though I was not particularly aware of it when making the production. 

About the Company:
Players TOKYO is now T. Sato’s single unit for presenting her works abroad.
Solo Shakespeare productions serve as her showcase pieces.

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