Sunday, December 03, 2006


Will be on Friday 8th December. I have been wanting to have an IMPROV night for ages. Did one several years ago. The school diary has a PAN planned. But I have added an I and got PAIN. Performing Arts IMPROV night. The winners will be rewarded with a cup. But not the normal cup. And especially for the IBtarts we will feature a THEATRE TRADITION game. I like the idea of creating Macbeth in the style of PANTOMIME. Lady M.: 'A little water clears us of this deed." Audience:"Oh no it won't!"

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Burial has passed

Yes the Burial is buried. And from comments and e mails received we were equal to previous productions. One or two regulars felt it had surpassed others. 'You out did yourself.' What delighted me was the moments on stage of creation. Where did that come from? I mused. Not from me. It had just happened instinctively. This photo is from one of my favourite scenes. There is speech, simple arm movement, the stomping of feet and reflected light across faces. Very watchable I say!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

You can't just pluck your honour off a bush you didn't plant

What a change in the weather from Friday to Sunday. Wind/rain to calm/sun And in between a clear night with the most staggeringly clear MOON. I felt this was a good sign. And so it was. The Sunday rehearsal was reassuring. At last. Sound, light and acting. The cues were tighter, and in the second run I began to hear the meaning clearly stated. However, several light cues will be have to be adjusted; my fault. But I like the shade and gloom that signifies the state of Thebes. And the audience are close. The photo is of my bag that carries the script and iBook. And on it, the poster I admire the most from my Ricoh. There is another more GLAM poster for the student audience. The title of this is from the mouth of Antigone. How contemporary.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

3 weeks tonight

I bought this camera today. It is a very expensive gadget that many idolise. The cast of Funeral will now be subjected to it over the next few days as I try to get to grips with: ISO, f-stops and noise. The film will develop. Which leads me to this opinion on character from Tennessee Williams: ...' He insisted that people don't always develop. "Paralysis in a character can be just as significant and just as dramatic as progress......and less shop worn." ' And another quote looks at character action on the stage. 'Even the parlor maid races around the room, as if it's just a summer job until her audition for Cirque du Soleil comes through. As staged by Robyn Nevin, it's a textbook example of how unconfident directors confuse busyness with energy. You can have energy in the stillest moment in the play, and the actor's failure to understand that is so squaresville all the cool irony in the world can't make up for it." I cannot recall who wrote that. But it's good isn't it? Creon and the Guard had stillness. Which character has paralysis? [ 3 weeks tonight is opening night.]

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Rice Boys

Do you remember the 2 boys who came from the UK and performed a series of plays? Perhaps you remember the one about CHEESE. You would have been in 9 or 10th grade. They are coming back to Japan. They will perform a 90 minute show at St Maur on the 6th October. I would like us all to go. This will be the first external play visit for some of you. I ask you to cough up 500 yen to see it. Then you can create a review of the show. You will have a chance to talk to the actors later because.... They will come over to YIS on the 10th October and conduct a workshop with IB students. If you wish to see their show from last year then I have it on film. Put the FRIDAY show in your diaries please. And prepare some questions to ask them post-performance.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Chorus Line

Here are my noble Gang of 6. I think they now realise why I kept telling them that they are the most crucial part of the show. They inform the audience and create transitions. They bring a visual sense to the stage. I am amazed how quickly they pick up ideas even when I have explained them in a dreadfully inept way. It is still early days and I can't wait to see them in costume and involved in more intricate moves. We need to add more layers of movement. And I should listen to other music. How do you explain the moment when the mood seems right between action and sound? Today the addition of Daiki's piano playing lifted the long passage of Creon. And there is an actor who was perfectly cast. There is still much to do and many miles to go.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Burial at Thebes

And so a week has passsed and the rehearsals begin to become a part of our weekly lives. And depending on your responsibilty you may ask: What is my costume? Shall I learn my lines sooner than last year? Is this Magic realism? Is this presentational? Is Tiresias a MAGUS? What is a MAGUS? 'I am not the target. I am the arrow.' Are you a target or an arrow? Is this photograph, of an artist and his son, relevant? What is the language? Could it be 'borrowed' for one of the characters in the play?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Gurkha Brothers

Welcome and namaste to all. The vacation is over and the photo above is possibly my most dramatic moment in the entire trip; Peter Jackson and I in Bhaktapur, Nepal considering a double act. I saw no live theatre. I saw no concert. I read no play. But I did fly into Bhutan, saw the Photala in Tibet, and fly out of England over my birthplace. And I vomitted in all the countries I visited starting with the letter T. Quote of the holiday: Always tell the truth; it saves you having to remember anything.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Easy Set Designer Program

Ever wanted to design a set quickly and easily, and save all the hassles of drawing on paper? Now that we are using iBooks around the campus, this design program is simple and quick to use. Sets can be designed with different stage layouts and flats - and coloured too. Please visit this site to download a demo of the program: Registration and licence fee is quite inexpensive, if you wish to purchase your own copy.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Voysey Inheritance

This play is playing at the Royal National Theatre,London. It had been revived recently or rediscovered. It is about a family and the effect upon them of fraud. The purpose of this blog is to get you to read Paul Miller's analysis of the director's vision compared to that of another play he saw in the same week. Both directors are called Peter. Over to Paul: ... it's the contrast in directorial approach which fascinates. Peter G makes it his task to tune in with perfect pitch to the tone and intent of the writing in all its scope and details; Peter S takes the play as a jumping off point to make an event which describes to the audience what they should feel about what they are watching. Gill understands how theatrical authentically lived actions are on stage; Stein emphasises the artificial in the setting to create a sense of strangeness which is separate to the play's incidents. Gill's actors uncannily catch and embody the nuances of class, power and gender positions as they ripple through the play; Stein's actors, though gifted, are crudely cast and thus have to put on odd accents to imitate the social background indicated in the play. In Voysey the appearance of the domestic staff to clear the grand dining table is poetic and real, casting a perspective on the upper-middle class family they serve and being in itself a perfect miniature piece of textured physical theatre; in Blackbird various people ostensibly working in the factory peer and leer through the window at the back every few moments, conveying nothing true about factory life and shattering what drama there is on stage with bathos....... If you can think like that and write like that ......... the IBTA examiner will adore you. Connections, dynamics, bathos.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Best Japanese Dance I know

This is the AWAODORI which I fell upon in 2004 at a Ginza festival. I was out shopping and was lucky to be there. The dance of fools, as it is sometimes called, involves two groups. The men creep around making the music and the women create the dance moves. On one level it is very simple but within that are complex formations as they make their way down the street. At the time I thought it was the nearest thing to a carnival in Rio. It is boisterous, funky and beautiful. I put it into my 2004 production, 'The Navigator' with costumes and hats borrowed from the Kanagawa Awadori group. The dance is mainly celebrated in August in the city of Tokoshima but the great blogger Q-Taro has led me to Koenji a suburb of Tokyo. Koenji has a 3 day festival at the end of August too. The above photo is from Q-Taro's 2002 visit. And more info on Koenji is here : See you there then!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Final Curtain

And so the work is handed in. And so it is checked and rechecked. And the 12th grade heave sighs of relief. No more Evans and no more Theatre deadlines. Within one portfolio submitted was this photograph by Miki Kotani which captures a moment of rehearsal last autumn. It was taken from the balcony and I like the way all the men are on stage and Raina [ Daisy Brasington ] is holding forth. There is stillness and action. ANd the lines of light define the space. And the reflected light illuminates the prevailing colours. For me it celebrates the most calm and professional show I have directed. One hopes the students' Portfolios convey this and are graded accordingly.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

remembrance of things passed

To establish the final aide memoire I hereby state the following useful: notes, dates, scores, word counts and other things. RESEARCH COMMISSION HL : 2500 words SL : 1750 words. You can be under/over by 10%; certainly NO more. Focus = an unfamiliar THEATRE TRADITION Advise and suggest : Yes. Tell and order = NO. INDIVIDUAL PROJECT [HL ONLY] Approximately 1500 words [ this is not included in the Portfolio count ] PORTFOLIO HL : 4500 words SL : 3000 words [ of your own words; does not include bibliography, extensive quotes, play text etc.,] You can be under/over by 10%; certainly NO more. TIMETABLE Monday 13th March : final theorist S.Meisner Wed 15th March : last class. Reviewing all work, sharing problems, FAQs, Monday 3rd April : HAND IT ALL IN. Wed 5th April : Final corrections, form filling, signing that it is your own work. ARMS and the MAN There are a sample of photos on the PIT LOBBY IB Board. Put your initial beside ones you want for Portfolio. I will then make copies for 15th March.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Awa Village Stage: Tokushima

From the Edo Period and through the Meiji period, villagers participated in performances working together to make things up as the play progressed. A village stage was maintained in all the villages. In the grove of the compound of the village shrine the stage was built to be well concealed. With its simple appearance the village stage reveals an atmosphere that can’t be found in modern urban theatre. The annual events that were held would be compromised of the puppet show and the ballad drama singing and dancing. This would smooth the way for an amateur dramatic performance, along with these events everyone would congregate in a banquet hall for a feast and thus allowing different people to fulfill various roles in the social life of the village. This was the tradition of the village. But is it what we term a Theatre tradition? Are there a set of rules handed down?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Les Voix Diphoniques

After listening to the remarkable voices from the Xhosa people on stage during Molora I went looking for knowledge. The site below calls it OVERTONE singing and cites singers like Michael Vetter, Christian Bollmann, Michael Reimann from Germany, Roberto Laneri from Italy, Rollin Rachele from the Netherlands, Josephine Truman from Australia, Les Voix Diphoniques , Thomas Clements, Iegor Reznikoff and Tamia from France. Overtone singing is also practised by a number of ethnic groups (Oirat, Khakass, Gorno-Altai, Bashkir, Tuvin, Kalmuk) of the republics of Russia bordering on Mongolia. In Rajasthan (India), in Taiwan among the Bunun ethnic group, in Tibet among the monks belonging to the Gyuto and Gyume monasteries. In South Africa among the Xhosa population, the practice of overtone singing style is known throughout recordings. NHK Educational channel will broadcast last night's performance of MOLORA on Sunday 12th March at 10 p.m.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Japanese research site

This is a good site for those who want to research Japanese theatre. It has an archive with back numbers. It has a wide spread of information. Every issue interviews a Japanese artist and international presenter. There is a Play of the Month. Recommended.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Right. We are all off to the theatre on the 21st February at 7 p.m. Who is responsible? Still in her 30s, Jael Farber has produced a number of probing works that bring to life tragic events in her country’s recent history. Based on the ancient Greek tragedy of the Oresteia trilogy, Molora premiered in Germany in 2004. Acquaintances of Kanagawa Arts Foundation producer Midori Okuyama liked it so much that she was inspired to go see one of Farber’s productions in Australia last year. The result was an invitation to stage Molora in Japan as part of the Kanagawa Arts Foundation’s month-long Shukusai! Butai stage arts festival. And when the actors speak in Xhosa; it is subtitled in Japanese by Keiko Tsuneda. For more information on this play one need only google: Molora Kanagawa. Not connected to this directly but well worth a look for your research is : You will find a mass of articles about Japan and World Arts. The site is bilingual too. Believe me; it is worth a look.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Children of the Black Skirt

Watch out for a gothic fairytale with bite! Children of the Black Skirt by award winning Australian young author Angela Betzien is coming to YIS! The grade 11 IB class of Ben Irmov, Miyuki Watanabe and Sophia Yamaguchi will be joined by Emily Tamaru to present a spine tingling reflection on the forgotten children of past generations. Hear the stories of orphans from long ago, but be careful not to upset the cruel governess who walks the corridors of the orphanage wielding enormous scissors. It was orginally staged in Australia in 2003-4 and published by Currency Press in 2005. This haunting one act play will be performed on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of April, 2006 in the Tanner Auditorium. There will be no ticket sales, as all donations will go to a local children’s charity. During the course of this term, the Grade 11 Theatre Arts Class has to take on a placement. A placement is where one becomes a trainee role within the company. They will choose and explore a placement from one of the areas below. In some cases, their placement will be an assistant to the key supervisor. Dramaturgy – researching, documenting the period (the historical and social environment) of the play as background for the director, actors and crew Directing – auditioning, planning production, conducting rehearsals and providing the artistic interpretation of the play Stage Management – assisting the director, overseeing all crews, and being responsible for the technical side of performance; coordinating and controlling the technical, dress and performances Choreography – interpreting the movement and dance sequences within the play and planning the dance styles Acting – interpreting the characters of the play both physically and emotionally; rehearsing and performing Lighting & Sound Design – designs colours and timings; prepares lighting plots, charts, cue sheets; hangs & focuses lights; operates lights during show; designs sound effects; creates sound cue sheets; makes SFX CDs; operates sound system Make-up & Costume Design - design make-up, costumes, accessories, hairstyles; make costumes; apply make-up and hairstyles; maintain make-up and costumes Set & Prop Design - design of set, riggings, colour schemes, arrangement of rostra; design, make, collect and manage properties used on stage for a place The performance of Children of the Black Skirt will be quite eclectic, even dare I say it abstract! We will endeavour to follow a mix of theatre such as: Epic Theatre ~ Brechtian Techniques (from Bertolt Brecht [1898-1956], Germany) Butoh ~ A form of theatrical dance & “avant garde performance art, that has its origins in Japan in the 1960's” Blue Man Group ~ A hybrid theatre group that combines “comedy, music and multi-media artistry to create a form of entertainment that is totally unique….developed in the late 80s with three long time friends Chris Wink, Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman” The Grade 11 class are lucky this year, as they are able to keep in contact with the author, Angela Betzien by email and this will help with the development of their portfolio work. More information on the one act play, the author, Angela Betzien and publisher Currency Press can be found at

Saturday, January 28, 2006


The music that was used by Butoh during their slide show was a sample. Within it was the music of Sheila Chandra. She is Anglo-Indian and began with a band called Monsoon. The music used is from ABoneCroneDrone. I have the CD. Sheila does not approve of sampling. She calls it theft.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Touching the moon

Peter Brook once said of Yoshi Oida, " Many actors try and get you to see the moon. With Yoshi he takes you there.' Yesterday, I did not go to the moon with Takuya Butoh sensei. But maybe, just maybe for a second or two I felt the space between my fingers more than my fingers. I knew that it was about finding that moment of blankness when you: cut your finger, fall off the chair or walk into the glass door. Or go down a step that is not there. I was suprised at the gothic, the dead, the near dead or the livind dead. However, when all that is beyond me I just enjoy the images of Butoh and wonder which ones I can borrow to make my own moon.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Camel Battleship - the first door.

I searched for some meaning to the meaningless in Butoh. The following words help me. The founder of Dairakudakan, Akaji Maro says this : " If we pick up a stone our action is limited to throwing or banging. It is the same with more complex instruments like a typewriter. In developing our functional movements we have discarded and forgotten other movements. " 'If someone tries to prepare food and cuts her finger, or makes a mistake writing kanji, this moment of surprise is the first door of Butoh. Time is stopped by the event and in this moment she enters the black world. In such moments humans can find forgotten moments." From Tokyo Journal Winter/Spring 2002

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Russians are coming

I wonder if the Russian Embassy next door to the American Club in Tokyo will listen into TIP'S production of Chekhov's 'The Cherry Orchard'? Or are they listening to more political things? Mind you, the play is all about change. If the orchard is chopped down in a modern production you would hear the new gazprom pipe-line to the EU being dug. The TIP production is being directed by Malcolm Duff. Malcolm and I were at Trent Park College in N.London; at the same time, same year and same drama course. Between there and here we had never met. We last acted together at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall. Take a look at the webcam of this stunning outdoor theatre: We were in a play by Barrie which was unfinished. "Shall we join the Ladies?" The owner of the Minack, Rowena Cade had wished it to be done. So we did it. One night a dog walked across the stage, Mike's dress-shirt lost buttons and we glued Jim's cup to the saucer. What larks. Anyway. Back to the play in Tokyo. Let's all go to the Saturday matinee on the 29th. Malcom will be on stage fielding questions. Perhaps after querying the mood created in the play you can ask about the dog on the stage at the Minack. Or my dubious student life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Butoh coming

The Dairakudakan company are coming. On Wednesday 25th January Takuya MuraMatsu will be working with us. Their sites are : &

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Letter: Dear Daisy, Thank you for agreeing to help me with the play, in particular the costumes and masks/makeup. The play, At the Hawks Well is an Irish play however it lends itself very clearly to the Japanese theatre tradition of Noh. However I don’t know very much about this tradition, hence contacting you as you are conveniently based in Japan. Having seen pictures of traditional Japanese dress I would very much like to incorporate that aspect and the use of masks into my production. However I know very little about the significance of specific styles of Japanese dress. In terms of the masks I would like them to be less intrusive than some of the traditional masks, perhaps even taking the design from the masks and turning it into a makeup design. After designing the make up and costume I will also need help with other aspects regarding Noh theatre, for example movement of characters, stage structure and song. Thank you for your help. Yours sincerely, i havent decided on a name yet but i will think of something clever envenshually, more to the point - is this good enough or should it be longer - cus its not in the wordcount ne, so it could be more informative. also i cant find much about the play at the hawks well itself but i have found loads on it being like noh and naturally lots on Noh and blah blah blah is this due tomorow>? i feel like it is.. but im not sure. oh ib is so confusing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

After the death of my daughter

Throughout the IB course I am telling students to make connections. Here is one mother's journey. I look at it from time to time. "After the death of my daughter I thought clean lines would repel me forever: the crisp triangulations of hospital sheets, the white oblong of her bed. Instead it was emotional incoherence of clutter that I found unbearable: cups and glasses, pieces of paper. I cleaned out her drawers,unmade her bed, painted over the bumps and grinds of wheelchair marks in the hall. Outside it snowed. Through the terrifying white I went to the Donald Judd Exhibition at the Tate. Here space and light lifted me. I could look up for the first time, feel free to feel nothing. The works are not clinical. The coloured perspex is warm, the shadows they cast are subtle and changing. The polished metal shines, the granite is flecked with light, the copper mirrored sides reflect back and forth until everything and nothing is caught there. I am caught there. A flicker of movement. A shadow. Someone coming out of shadows. Someone who walks in the world." Jenny Vuglar. The Observer. 26th December 2004. London

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Brooks Brothers Sale

I had a great day today. Lunch with an ex student. Then I asked her to accompany me to Brooks Brothers at Motomachi. Little did we know that it was SALE time. 30% reductions. Very tempting. So I tried on a Corduroy suit reduced from 75 to 50K. Still expensive. But after all, it is Brooks Bros. We did get time to talk about last year's gossip and the effect of yesterday upon today. When I asked her to forward one piece of advice for present students she offered this: IF YOU HAVE WORK DUE TOMORROW DO IT YESTERDAY. She wishes NOW that she could do IB again. Properly. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight. And on that positive note: Happy New Year to all readers. And please let me know of any other SALES. With a transition into the obvious play : Miller's 'Death of a Salesman.'