Now it has officially begun. The making of RealContact in Finland: "Macbeth, Again!"
This production will be a fusion of theatre, contemporary dance, and Japanese drum as an adaptation of Shakespeare's well-known tragedy. It is based on the 2012 version of "Macbeth, Again!" in Japan where I performed with a big group of Japanese artists. My teacher Akira Hino was the director of the piece. The experience was so profound that I wanted to bring it to Finland in which I'm currently based. Five years later my wish has been finally granted!
This time the cast is a mix of Japanese and Finnish artists. From Japan, Ikki Hino, Erika Fujii, and Akane Shiho will be joining as drummers. Akira Hino is, of course, our director. Kazuko Hino is the director's assistant. And Nobuko Takahara performs as a lead dancer once again. From Finland, Tuomas Tulikorpi, Niklas Riikonen, and Ulla Raitio join as actors. And there is also a group of background performers that functions as a physical movement ensemble in the show. I work as an actor, playwright, coordinator, interpreter, and training leader.
Akira Hino will arrive in a few weeks with Kazuko and Nobuko on April 10th (Ikki and his group come a bit later). But before that, I wanted to prepare us the Finnish group physically and mentally for the intensive rehearsal with the Japanese group.
So, we started on Monday, the 27th of March. We gathered at a movement classroom in TeaK (Theatre Academy in Helsinki) at 18:00, and I started to tell the group about practical things such as schedules and publicity. I then gave them the scripts of the play and roughly explained the dramaturgy of it. A short break. Then we watched a few videos together: One was the recording of the 2012 version of the production, and the other, one of the interviews I did with Akira Hino. A short break again. Then we spend the last hour on physical training, starting with Kyokotsu exercises and ending with wild vocal improvisation. Everyone was laughing in the end, which was a nice way to end the first day.
Day 2: March 28th
This rehearsal/training period before the Japanese group arrives is a great pedagogical challenge for me. I have been studying theatre pedagogy at Theatre Academy for some time, and the question of how to make a performance in collaborative, dialogical environment has been changing the way I look at theatre. In Western theatre at least, the role of a director is powerful. Plays are rehearsed and produced to actualize the visions of the directors. I'm terribly generalizing when I say things like this, but there seems to be a hierarchy in may of the processes of performance making in theatre. I don't think that there is anything wrong with having a hierarchical structure in a rehearsal process if that makes clear the functions of each group member and everyone understands it, too. My question arises from the perspective of an actor and pedagogue. If I were to be in rehearsal for a play, I would want to grow as an artist throughout and after the process. Is it possible to incorporate educational research into the rehearsal process so that performers learn not only the aesthetics and dramatic language of the play but also investigate how they develop themselves as artists? I want us performers to be more active and long-term thinking so that we wouldn't feel as desperate as we might feel sometimes in fulfilling the demands of others. Don't get me wrong here, though. I know that there are a lot of directors who could educate their actors, and their visions transform them as well. So, this is not criticism toward anyone or any structure. I'm genuinely curious to investigate and try things out regarding how to do collaboration in my own processes with other performers. How can we help each other grow and make performances together?
One of the strong elements in this rehearsal process is "the unknown." I'd never tried a rehearsal structure such as this before where the half of the group needs to rehearse for a while without the director and the other half of the performers who come two weeks before the premiere. Needless to say, cultural differences will amply the feeling of "I don't know what's gonna happen".. but also excitement.
"The unknown" is scary, but it could be exciting, too, if you look at it as a source of endless possibilities.
Anyway, today's rehearsal/training consisted mostly of open improvisation using Viewpoints to build an ensemble.
We also did quite a lot of physical exercises from Hino Method. We ended the session with an exercise called Facing/Connecting (in Japanese, Shomen mukaiai). This is one of my favorite exercises from Hino Method. It's deceivingly simple because all you need to do is to stand in front of your partner. But the point is to connect on a deeper level than making eye contact. There needs to be a concrete sensation of connection felt by the entire body and consciousness. It's hard to explain in words what it feels like, but this kind of connection is thrilling to watch.
It has been extremely hectic for me to handle all the production related work, planning for rehearsals and training, and preparing for my own role(s) in the play. But I enjoy them all. When you're doing something you care about, any pressure can be turned into fuel to push through!