Monday, 10 July 2017

Busu & The Damask Dramaturgy: Franko Figueiredo @ Edfringe 2017

Busu and the Damask Drum
Theatre (physical theatre, contemporary)
 Greenside @ Royal Terrace (Venue 231) ​ 13:50 Aug 14-19, 21-26 50 minutes
Country: Japan Group: Busu Theatre

Inspired on Zeami's Aya No Tsuzumi, Busu and the Damask Drum was originally adapted by Yukio Mishima for the modern stage. Hailed as a double bill of miniature Japanese gems, Busu is a classic Kyogen farce and the Damask Drum is a tragic ghost story. 

This production takes an irreverent, playful approach on the traditional Japanese forms. It incorporates Awa Dance (Japanese summer folkloric dance), Taiko drumming, traditional Noh and contemporary Japanese practices to create a show that is fun, celebratory and thought-provoking.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The seed was sown when Busu Theatre producer/performer Ecco Shirasaka and I (Franko Figueiredo, StoneCrabs Artistic Director) met last year whilst she was in London researching 'theatre producing' in the UK. 

Through various discussions, we came up with the idea of creating a show that merged old traditional and folkloric Japanese form with the urban contemporary Japan,  a show young and irreverent. We felt the best way to approach this, would be through Yukio Mishima's work as he had attempted in modernising Noh and Kyogen forms back in the 50s, thus Busu & The Damask Drum came about. Tradition vs Urban, Yukio Mishima meets Japanese Manga.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

We believe through performance we can provoke dialogue and discussion, in particular with the technological generation of the millennium. It is all the more important to encourage and facilitate face to face discussion, and performance provides a great space for that. Quite likely, this is why the Festival has been going on for such a long time.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Everyone in the company has been inspired by and interested in making performance from an early age. Each with their own journey, mostly as students in Japan.  I myself, moved from devising, into text, into dance, then back to text, both directing and writing, and now back to creating performances that deconstruct and merge forms and cultural ideas.  

I met Ecco Shirasaka for the first time at Rose Bruford College in Sidcup where we started experimenting together, creating site-specific shows and developing work that attempted to push boundaries both in Japan and UK. The other company members met through various theatre exchanges. Busu came about with the desire to create something other than we were used to in our former companies, something that we could take it out internationally and show a different side of Japan. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We are mostly interested in the exchange between international artists. Busu Theatre artists have been collaborating with StoneCrabs for the past few years, workshopping, learning, and developing work that is the sum of artistry from Japan, UK, Brazil and China. Our approach is to try and mix forms until we are happy with the result, we usually follow a structure and then try to break the structure in a way that still tells a story, or better yet, takes you through the journey of a story. We'd say ours is a holistic approach.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

No. This is the first performance created between Busu and StoneCrabs artists. This collaboration led us to feel braver, freer to explore, and to take risks. The rehearsal room is a very safe place, and full of ideas, some made it into the show, others didn't.  We make no apologies and have, in the spirit of Mishima, tried to push the boundaries of our performance as much as possible.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Quite simply, a celebration of theatre and life. This is a slice of Japanese Contemporary work.  Normally audiences see Japanese theatre as a very traditional historical form. With this show we want to break that image, we use tradition but we transform it into something new, something irreverent and celebratory. We want the audience to have fun with us.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Our audiences are the most important element for us.It is a shared experience. It is a
We are a company where only 3 members speak English, and although this is a multi-form show, the language we use comes in a variety of forms: visually, aurally, textually, we know we must work hard to move the story forward with every inch of our bodies. The energy we give and receive is also forms part of the performance.  

The performance will change and develop the more we perform it, each audience brings a different realm of energy for us to dive into, and we cherish that very much. We want audiences to be comfortable and relaxed so that they can experience the most they can. As we say, each performance will be: 'same, same, but different'. 

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