The Cat Scene in “At Jacob’s Well”, Vienna, September 2019
I came to the project in June 2018, when Setsuko Aihara – a fine artist who was working on the translation of the text at that time – invited me to participate in a workshop with Kanji Shimizu. Thanks to this connection, I was consequently involved in the first readings of the next drafts and then offered the Ai-Kyogen role of the Cat. My fascination for and connection with Noh-Theatre (and Japanese culture as a whole) had followed me since childhood, so the opportunity to participate in a modern Noh-play was very exciting for me. In March 2019 I visited Japan and met Mr. Shimizu in the Tessen-Kai Noh-Theatre space and had the chance to rehearse with Kyogen Master Tadashi Ogasawara. I was familiarized with the particular movement forms of Kyogen and Noh and collected valuable tools to add to my repertoire of movement. Back in Vienna, I worked closely with Diethard Leopold, who had conceived the role of the Cat in the first place and we commenced to build a structure for this “performance within a performance”. I came in contact with the entire ensemble of Tessen-Kai, the costume and the set only a few days before the world premiere of “At Jacob’s Well” - the intensity of making the play happen at Odeon Theater was therefore immense. Performing under the guidance of Shimizu san was an extraordinary experience. The moment of putting on the mask (sublimely crafted by Mr. Sasaki), watching oneself as the actor wearing the mask and ultimately “entering” the world and life of the mask was a deeply spiritual and eye-opening experience. Observing the care and attention with which each of the ensemble members of Tessen-Kai attended to every aspect of the Ritual was astonishing and humbling.
Please support the project and Tessen-Kai's work: https://readyfor.jp/projects/nagasaki-jacob-2019