“Time’s Journey Through a Room”
Envy of the dead for her eternal hope.
Our little inner conflicts magnified by new approaches with sound / script / body.
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In response to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the theatrical vision of playwright Toshiki Okada shifted toward exploration of the validity of fiction. The shift led to the staging of "Current Location" (2012) and "Ground and Floor" (2013), which allegorically portrayed the sense of tension and isolation in Japanese society in the wake of the disaster. While again taking the post-disaster social situation as its theme, "Time's Journey Through a Room" is an extremely meticulous scrutiny of the mental conflicts and arbitrary emotions of individuals preceding their social alienation. It expands upon these observations to launch unprecedentedly new presentations derived from them on the stage. The feelings that welled up in the breasts of people in Japan in the days right after the disaster struck were not confined to grief and unease; there was also a sprinkling of hope that "things would get better" as a result. Those who go on living today, when it is no longer possible to have hope, are tormented by the pure and simple expressions of it by the ghost of one who died while still embracing this kind of hope for the future. It makes them want to plug their ears and turn away. Through Okada's script and the physical movements of the actors, which reach new heights of intensity, the invisible mental anguish and pain are fused into a both closely-knit and multilayered relationship with the sound and space designed by contemporary artist Tsuyoshi Hisakado, who suffuses them with subtle shading. The way they are presented makes it appear that the piece can virtually be directed to emotions per se, and is bound to deeply move those who see it. The finely-tuned approaches in the respective media of words, body, sound, and space come together on the stage and wash over the audience in a wave. The work is nothing less than an interlude for each member of it to confront his or her own memories and experiences.
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English subtitles: English subtitles with spoken words and speaker names
(1) The Story and Its Background
Immediately after the 2011 earthquake, Okada was elated and hopeful that society would change for the better after such an unprecedented event. The characters in the story are the ghost of a woman who died with such hope in her heart, her former husband, and the man’s current lover. The man, who continues to live in a society where hope is no longer possible, is confused and disturbed by the dead woman’s strong and purely hopeful question. In addition, there are characters on stage whose roles do not directly appear in the story, who refer to and draw attention to the existence of small things (sound/movement/heart sway) and various boundaries.
(2) Attempts in the text
Departing from the conventional allegorical depiction of the narrative world, the trivial conflicts and small emotional turmoil of the characters are densely depicted as extremely personal and arbitrary. This was a major challenge for Okada as a playwright.
(3) Attempts in sound and the body
For sound and stage design, Okada has invited sound and sculpture artist Takeshi Kumon to take on the challenge of creating new representations through a crossover of sound, words, and movement. In addition, this project aims to deal with the question of the blocking nature of the “theater” system, which separates the inside from the outside. In the treatment of the body, there will be small movements that cannot be seen if one is not careful, and the process of exaggeration itself will be presented. The delicate handling and expansion of sound and body movements will be linked to the detailed narrative psychology.
The way the sound and body movements are delicately handled and expanded is linked to the detailed narrative psychology, further encouraging the audience’s imagination to leap forward.
Message from artist / creator
In the days immediately following the disaster and the nuclear accident, the emotions that flooded me were not only sadness, anxiety, and fear, but also hope. Could it be that these unprecedented events have put our society on the cusp of making changes that would otherwise be difficult to achieve? That’s what I thought. At that time.
I wanted to portray the relationship between the living and the ghosts who died with hope for the future in their hearts. The life of the dead has already closed the circle and become stable. Those of us who are still alive envy them. We are tormented, we want to escape from it, and we try to forget it.
The theater company chelfitsch was founded in 1997 by Toshiki Okada, who writes and directs all of its productions. Applauded for its distinctive methodology, which applies the relationship between quirky speech and physical movements, it attracts keen attention, both inside and outside Japan, as a troupe in the vanguard of contemporary theater. Its slovenly, “noisy” physicality, which seems to exaggerate ordinary gestures at times and seems not to do so at others, was even likened to dance. The company made its debut abroad in 2007, when it performed “Five Days in March” at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, which is regarded as one of the most important festivals on the European performing arts scene, in Brussels, Belgium. It has since performed works in a total of more than 90 cities in Asia, Europe, and North America. In 2011, “Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech” received the critics’ award from the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre in Montreal, Canada.
In more recent years, the troupe has performed in works whose production rested on international collaboration with the world’s major festivals and theaters around the world, specifically: “Current Location” (2012), “Ground and Floor” (2013), “Super Premium Soft Double Vanilla Rich” (2014), “Time’s Journey Through a Room” (2016), and “Five Days in March – Re-creation” (2017). It continues to constantly update its methodology, which revolves around the relationship between speech and body, and explore new avenues of expression unbound by conventional dramaturgy. In 2018, it produced and exhibited/performed “Beach, Eyelids, and Curtains: chelfitsch’s EIZO-Theater” at the Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto. This piece uses projected images (“eizo”) to bring theatrical space into being. In 2019-2020, it collaborated with the artist Teppei Kaneuji and produced “Eraser Mountain” at KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2019 and “Eraser Forest” at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It performed a single artistic concept in two different types of space and used the way of “EIZO-Theater” as well.
Playwright/Director: Toshiki Okada
Sound/Set Design: Tsuyoshi Hisakado
Cast: Izumi Aoyagi, Mari Ando, Yo Yoshida
Stage Director: Koro Suzuki
Sound Director: Norimasa Ushikawa
Lighting Director: Tomomi Ohira(ASG)
Costume: Kyoko Fujitani(FAIFAI)
English Translation：Aya Ogawa
Assistant Director: Yuto Yanagi
Publicity photography：Masumi Kawamura
Production Manager: Tamiko Ouki, Nana Koetting, Mai Hyodo(precog)
Associated production: precog
Co-produced by: Kyoto Experiment / ROHM Theatre Kyoto, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt, FFT Düsseldorf, La Bâtie – Festival de Genève, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht
In Co-operation with: Nishi-Sugamo Arts Factory, Suitengu Pit
Kyoto Art Center Artist in Studio Program