“If you never leave your native culture, you’re bound by it forever without realizing it. If you ask a person about their culture it’s like asking a fish about water, what can they say?”（Donald Richie）
Musical Theater Piece based on the Prose of Donald Richie and Angela Carter,
Script by Ayuo
Music composed by Ayuo.
Ayuo: vocals, ukulele, electric violin
Christopher Yohmei Blasdel: shakuhachi
Tatsuo Kondo （近藤達郎）: keyboards
Mika Kimula（きむらみか）: vocals
Place: Last Waltz (Shibuya). http://lastwaltz.info/access/
Date: September 25, 2014
￥3000 ＋ one drink charge
The prose of both Richie and Carter gives us a blueprint on how to live freely as outsiders in the present age with its rise of worldwide nationalism and the redistribution of national boundaries. The compositions are meant to be a hymn in praise to the passionate yet detached and objective outsider.
As Richie writes in Viewed Sideways, “I have learned to regard freedom as more important than belonging.”
Donald Richie came to Japan in 1947, and lived mostly in Tokyo till his death in 2013. A scholar of the Japanese films, he introduced such directors as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Masahiro Shinoda, and Hiroshi Teshigahara to western audiences. He also wrote about music and literature, and among his friends were Yukio Mishima, Toru Takemitsu, Daisetsu Suzuki and many others.
I had seen him in concerts, movie theaters and parties, and had some of his books from the time I was going to middle school in New York City. However, it was not until last year that I began to read many of his later writings, and I felt a profound sympathy with that much of what he wrote about Japan. He chose to live as a foreigner, an outsider in society, for it is the position where one can see life the most objectively. This is the freedom from not belonging to a nation. “I became a one-member society., consistent only to myself and forever different from those who surround me. I now doubt the very existence of this “national identity,”(Donald Richie).It occurred to me that I had to make a music theater piece out of his writings.
In the center of the music theater piece is an episode from Angela Carter’s short story “The Flesh and the Mirror” performed as a dance piece. Angela Carter is a Scottish-English writer who came to live in Tokyo in the 1970s.
Japan is a world where many things that appear to be Western are not at all Western because unlike many other countries, it never had the experience of becoming a colony. In Japan, Western culture was adopted on the surface. “The Flesh and the Mirror” is about a woman from England who comes to Japan to be with her Japanese lover, but she slowly finds herself feeling that she has come to a nightmare dream world. This is what many foreigners, as well as most Japanese raised abroad would face, when they come to Japan.Today, we see nation-states collapse and fall apart all over the world. My answer to live in the coming age, would be to live as an outsider. I personally see these pieces to be like the hymns for the coming age. – Notes by Ayuo