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When a Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched

May 16, 2011
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Just a quick one from the airport.

Having not read the programme booklet, and long forgotten the synopsis given in the festival guide, I was pretty much clueless as what I was about to watch. Only that it was in Japanese with English surtitles.

And Japanese avant garde it was, metaphoric. Despite it being too abstract for me, I must say it was very well executed with excellent choreography and structure. The only problem was that the surtitles were insufficient, especially the mass interludes.
On the other hand, it was like poetry, and the performance was like a recitation of poems, like waves.

Themes I gleaned from the performance were migration and conquest/colonisation. And with the references to history and reminders of World War II, I felt it had fitted in the “I want to remember” theme.

The sets were impressive with giants, boats and housing.

Jeremy asked me how the play made me feel. I didn’t really feel much with the effort to try and interpret and read subtitles, but I did wonder if it was meant to make us feel empathy for the Japanese, especially with reference to WWII. That, made me have mixed feelings.

As an afternote, I referred to the synopsis:

“Writer and director Yukichi Matsumoto and his award-winningcompany Ishinha create an epic story about a “Sea Road” linking up the cultural, social and aesthetic histories of the peoples of the islands bordering the Pacific Rim: from the South Sea islands through Southeast Asia up to Taiwan ending in Japan… Matsumoto wants to create a new form of drama, a drama of the future or ‘tomorrow’ where the company wants to show things or concepts that are difficult or impossible to represent in terms of shapes. He said, “as I studied more about the sea and its people, I came to realize that there were more varied peoples and languages than on the main continent: I thought if I made the sea the main stage I could tell a story of Asia no one has done before.”

He has therefore created a hypothetical Japan current or so called Black Current to link the independent and scattered islands on which various episodes of the people who travel on this “Sea Road” can be represented. They tell their stories one by one – there is no one hero; everyone is a star. It is not the romantic or mythical “Sea Road” in traveler’s tales that he is interested in, but a 20th century visualization with a perspective that is of one standing on the earth and not from photographs or maps that take in a 360 degree view from the sky. The performance shows concepts or things that are impossible to grasp or represent in terms of known concrete shapes or objectifying strategies.”

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