18 Sep ‘Tokyo Fugue’, Performance of a Lifetime
Written by Freya, Lola, and Diakite – Year 8 student reporters
On Friday 7th September 2018, ‘Tarinainanika’ (an international physical theatre company based in Tokyo, Japan) delivered an unusually interesting performance to Whitley Academy pupils that opened our eyes to a whole new world.
For your information, ‘Tarinainanika’ specialise in the art of ‘Corporeal Mime’. We have to honestly say that at the beginning of the performance we had no idea what ‘Corporeal Mime’ was about! The three performers were Tania Coke, Kentaro Suyama and Toshihiko Nishimura.
The play began at 1:20 pm, and as the bright lights and eerie, traditional Japanese music filled the Auditorium, the space inside our school had been transformed beyond recognition. With the professional lighting, and the stereo sounds from the speakers, we all felt like we’d been transported to the depths of the Tokyo underground.
The performance had no story line, and was open for interpretation with a collage of thoughts, memories and dreams. It wasn’t difficult to visualise some confusion in the audience as the short dialogues from the performers were repeated frequently. Later on in the workshop, we realised the rather in-depth message behind the repetition routine: consciously or unconsciously, we do repeat lots of things in life and it is sometimes easy to feel lost in a sea of different messages we see each day.
The performance’s visuals then showed us the crowded trains of Tokyo, where the tiredness at the end of the working day of passengers was on display, where the struggle to remain conscious and stay calm and get home as fast as they could was transparent. The performance was completely in sync with the vibrant visual display in the background. We were told that the filmography was created by a friend of the artists, who shot the scene in a Tokyo station. The film complimented the chaotic lifestyle of the commuters living and working in Tokyo.
After the play had come to an end, we had a Q&A session with Tania, Kentaro, Toshihiko, Amy (the lighting expert) and Chloe (the audio-visual expert) that allowed our inquisitive minds to pour out our questions and express our views on the performance. We learned a lot of interesting and informative facts that made the performance even better, and filled in the gaps of our curious minds. For example, we were told how the story line of the performance started and how the ideas were formed.
We were told that the message of the performance was open to interpretation, but most of our pupils felt an important message was to find and hold on to something of meaning, or something we love in our lives, especially in amongst a sea of uncertainty and confusion we sometimes feel today.
With the afternoon moving fast and the end of the visit drawing closer, we decided to move on to the workshop. This opportunity gave us the chance to experience ‘Corporeal Mime’ for ourselves, learning the many, many different ways to shake someone’s hand all with different meanings.
Finally it was time for the artists interview with the student reporters, with Mr. David Acton (an actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford) who visited our school for the play.
The audience’s opinions varied from person to person, much like the performance’s artists wanted them to.
Lola (12 years old) had this to say: “I thought that it was strangely entertaining in its own special way and seeing it for the first time, my mind was open to every possibility.’
Lucy and Holly ( both 14 years old): “It was very interesting to watch the whole performance without the use of many props. There were times we felt confused with the repetition of the dialogue. But after attending the workshop we found the answer. There were moments we felt very emotional to watch. We personally believe that the play was beautifully performed and the actors really know their timing (which was very needed).”
We would like to say thank you to the following:
The Japan Society in London who had financially sponsored the event and enabled us to experience this amazing piece of international culture.
Georgina Chatfield, Programme Manager for RSA academies for your well-loved feedback.
David Acton (the actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford) for visiting and sharing his thoughts with us.
And of course the three excellent performers (Tania, Kentaro and Toshihiko) and the technical team who made ‘Tokyo Fugue’; because of course none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for your time and dedication to what you do.
Thank you for spending your time reading our blog.
“Body language is your unspoken communication that you use to reveal your true thoughts and emotions.” – Dr Michelle Cleere