Friday, October 31, 2008

November 3 Global Stages and Social Practice

Katsura Kan is a longtime Kyoto butoh master. He performed with Byakko-sha, formed by Isamu Osuka, an offshoot of Dairakudakan in a Kyoto factory. While Byakko-sha presented a wild, mad and chaotic flavor, Kan is very analytic and considered.

A friend studied with him in Kyoto. After a year or two of classes, she learned of a performance his group was making in another Japanese city. She implored Kan to allow her to assist, collecting tickets, doing lights, anything needed for the performance. His response was a note of the location, you can make it if you like.

Finding a location in Japan is a challenge for Japanese. For Westerners without the language, it is a supreme challenge. Within a neighborhood, banchi, of pedestrain-oriented curvalinear streets without names, addresses were assigned in chronological order of building in a neighborhood, not linear order on a named street!

My friend set out early in the morning to the performance. She arrived, miraculously, an hour before the performance at the site. There Kan was surprised to see her. "Oh, you made it?". "Get in costume, the performance is in an hour and you are in it." You can imagine her response. She performd and well, continuing with Kan's traveling performing group for a year or two. Later he was planning a new performance. He selected dancers, but not her. She protested. His response: "Do you remember your first time on stage? You were raw, with an intensity. It is time for another to feel that."

Kan has worked to form a pan-Asian butoh, collaborating in Indonesia and Thailand. He is also known for drawing movement, sampling, from his dancers. Tonight he speaks on the origins of butoh in Japan.

Butoh was first performed in 1959. A common theory is that it was inspired by the atomic bomb in 1945. I believe it was inspired by the youth and artistic cultural movement for Japanese cultural soverenity. At the time, writers such as Mishima represented a return to traditional Japanese values along with creative and social liberalization. There were also massive protests in the streets against the terms of the US-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty. The founder of butoh was from Northern Japan and was influenced by Japan's nature-based philosophy, Shinto. This is the explanation in Michael Blackwood's documentary. Byakko-sha's Isamu Osuka does relate that he was in the womb of his mother in 1945 Hiroshima and has a prebirth memory of the bomb's illumination. Kan, a Buddhist, perhaps will have a comment on the impact of Japanese philosophy on butoh and how Americans can find their unique butoh. That would be social practice.

The lecture has been organized by Mizu Desierto and Professor Larry Kominz of Portland State University's Center for Japanese Studies and with the help of the Dance program at PSU's Theater Arts Department. Kan teaches workshops and performs this week at the Headwaters Studio at Disjecta.

The lecture is in Smith Hall room 327/8/ 6:30PM Free!

Darren O'Donnell is a polymath. Writer of novels, maker of theater and a social practice artist. Mammalian Diving Reflex forms a pattern for O'Donnell's performances. They range from his haircuts by children project to on stage work. I think his talk will be entertaining, but I'm not really sure what he does so maybe just see his website and decide if it sounds fun and exciting.

It is part of the PSU Monday Lecture Series. This series has been consistently engaging. It has moved to a new location - Shattuck Hall, Room 212, 1914 SW Park Avenue, at the corner of SW Broadway and Hall on the PSU campus. 7:30PM Free