Saturday, May 06, 2017

make way


... the past two months have seen me watching opera on two continents ... both far from the source of their original cultural origin ... Wagner's Götterdämmerung performed by the Canadian Opera Company at The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto & La Traviata performed by the Korean-Russia Opera at the Sejong Center in Seoul  ...

... not really an innocent bystander ... daughter played Gutrune/Third Norn in Götterdämmerung & wife co-directed La Traviata ...

... I have been waiting to share the experience of watching Ileana ... Act III, Gutrune awaits Seigfried's return ... the stage is bare, only a dim twilight glow in the distant background ... a solitary figure, Gutrune, stands downstage right ... the epic music has stilled to a whisper ... into the hush, Ileana reaches out delicately ... she takes hold of the entire space sending us into that unforgettable place ... waiting for a lover ... a longing in all its forms ... a dull lingering ache in the soul fraught with added complexities of heavy guilt, suffering, injustice and persecution ... the tragic, existential exhaustion of extreme emotion in solitude ... holding my breath I stepped out of the moment to look around ... I witnessed thousands spellbound ... Ileana had us all in her grasp ... amazing ... the toddler who sat on my knee listening to Magic Flute was now on stage illuminating the depths of the human condition ... I marveled at her creative act ...


... on the Korean stage, it was wild to watch a chorus of forty with a dance company and singers faithfully presenting the19th-century operatic warhorse ... AeRan had been conscripted to co-direct ... she had only a month before returned to Seoul after a study sojourn ... a performance studies Masters Degree at NYU under Richard Schechner, the American founder of the discipline, through to a Phd. in Ethnoscology obtained in Paris under founder of the discipline Jean-Marie Pradier and his successor  ... all the time engaging as a performer with Eugenio Barba and workshops with Thomas Richards, Maud Robert and others at the cutting edge of performance ... now she was directing a cast of Korean singers ... she had skillfully created a performance full of vigor & delight with truly beautiful accents ... how could she so easily move from academic treatises to such conventional exacting craftsmanship with such virtuosity ...

... both performances were a joy to watch ... I find opera takes a lot of "assistance" ... there have been times in my life where I have joined many in calling out much of this art form a museum piece and dead ... yet somehow these two events folded into performed imaginaries - the way imagination structures reality ...

... on the plane traveling to the Korean peninsula, I read Peter Brook by Michael Kustow ... finished it (a long flight) & made a total of 10 highlights ... re-reading each highlight none quite caught the essence of what I felt during the performances ... except perhaps the final sentence of the book ... "'We must learn to believe without believing. Otherwise, belief is poison.' Making theatre has helped Peter Brook to be free, and we respond to his freedom." ...

... I was reminded of the 2017 World theatre message by Isabelle Huppert ...

Theatre is for me represents the other it is dialogue, and it is the absence of hatred. 'Friendship between peoples' - now, I do not know too much about what this means, but I believe in community, in friendship between spectators and actors in the lasting union between all the peoples theatre brings together - translators, educators, costume designers, stage artists, academics, practitioners and audiences. Theatre protects us; it shelters us ... I believe that theatre loves us ... as much as we love it ... I remember an old-fashioned stage director I worked for, who, before the nightly raising of the curtain would yell with full-throated firmness 'Make way for theatre!' - and these shall be my last words tonight.
 ::Note:: ...  Yes simply put ... Make way for theatre ... It helps us be free ...