June 29, 1997 |
The pre-curtain announcement, in utterly polite but firmly worded Japanese, came over the public address system. "Welcome to the theater. Please do not take any photos or make any recordings. And please turn off your cellular phones." As I was discovering, in Japan--where an estimated one-fifth of the population possesses cellular phones, pagers or some such device--theater managers are imploring audiences to turn the things off.
September 21, 1996 |
From Sophocles' "Philoctetes" to Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens" and beyond, a number of very unusual classic dramas look at the injustices of society through the eyes of the exile--heaping up bitter ironies until the desperate isolation of the dispossessed seems preferable to any involvement with the corruption they left behind.
September 15, 1996 |
In a long, bare room, emptied of furniture except for a few Japanese floor cushions, the sharp sound of wooden clappers signals the start of the Kabuki drama. This, however, is Kabuki unmasked: a rehearsal with no props by actors with unadorned faces in simple cotton kimonos. The scene is startlingly austere for a theater celebrated for its pageantry of spectacular costumes and magnificent makeup, elaborate wigs and glimmering stage sets.
January 22, 1996 |
Kabuki was born in 1603, the same year Elizabeth I died and Shakespeare's company gained patronage from the new king. Japanese and British popular theater had much in common then, and attempts to bring the two closer have preoccupied many theater and opera directors in this century.
August 13, 1994 |
The sound of one hand clapping is one thing, but the sound of snow falling is entirely another, especially when you're trying to make that sound with drums. "I used to work in Kabuki theater, and a lot of my ideas come from sound effects for the stage," says Kenny Endo, whose taiko ensemble will play two shows tonight in the courtyard of the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library.
May 22, 1994 |
Tamasaburo Bando's fame comes from his creations of courtesans and spurned women on the Grand Kabuki stage, but this night he's wearing a double-breasted suit and standing before a sold-out audience in Yokohama. He tilts his head and seems to turn his long, lithe torso in on itself as he slips for a minute into a man's idea of a geisha. "In a kimono, I'm a woman. It's like switching languages," says the man who is arguably Japan's premier female impersonator, or onnagata.
May 2, 1994 |
In a sunlit studio of the UCLA Dance Building, a dozen students from both that university and CalArts kneel in a semicircle reading in Japanese under the guidance of a small cherubic man seated opposite them in a wooden chair.
February 9, 1994 |
When one of the country's leading youth theaters, New York-based Theatreworks/USA, decided it wanted to add a one-hour version of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to its national touring repertory, it went to the creators of "Narnia," the full-length 1985 musical based on the Lewis tale that played London and New York. "Narnia" writer Jules Tasca, composer Thomas Tierney and lyricist Ted Drachman were agreeable. Although they work primarily in stage and screen for adults, they had collaborated on two other musicals for the 33-year-old children's theater company, and besides, it was assumed by all that the adaptation would be a snap.
January 16, 1994 |
Act One of the Whitewater scandal ended last week on a disorderly note. President Bill Clinton, in the midst of his Eastern European trip, suddenly decided to accept political reality and ask the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to conduct an inquiry.
September 20, 1993 |
The Grand Kabuki managed to be both strikingly theatrical and rigorously anti-dramatic throughout a program of three duets, Friday afternoon at the Japan America Theatre. Each piece went nowhere with enormous flair, concentrating on displays of emotion and dancing rather than narrative development. Indeed, "Shitadashi Sambaso" had no plot whatsoever--merely two symbolic figures performing a danced benediction.