by syaffolee

“There were many people being living. Certainly very many come together to see something, to hear something, to do something, to see some see something, to see some hear something, to see some do something, to hear some see something, to hear some do something, to hear some hear something, to feel something, to feel some feel something, to feel some hear something, to feel some see something…”

The above is from Gertrude Stein‘s The Making of Americans which inspired the theatrical program Hashirigaki–a melange of light, music, and dance. Hashirigaki was both fun and stimulating to the senses. “As it comes,” Charlotte Engelkes, one of the actresses, said of the meaning of the Japanese term hashirigaki. This piece of modern theater was a mix of traditional Japanese music, western stream-of-consciousness, and extraordinary use of lighting that, for me, was pure visual and auditory pleasure.

I was part of the smaller group of people who stayed behind for a discussion with the three performers of Hashirigaki–Charlotte Engelkes, Marie Goyette, and Yumiko Tanaka. The very first question offered was “What was the meaning of the play?” The performers hemmed and hawed on the answer, but in the end couldn’t definitively pin it down. I suppose looking for meaning in modern art is in itself meaningless. Modern art merely exists–its interpretation is up to the individual. Another question was “Was it supposed to be funny in the scenes where the audience laughed?” Again, this was up to the individual interpretation. If the audience wasn’t supposed to laugh, than the performers did a poor job of interpreting the material themselves.

Actually, I didn’t find the discussion that helpful. Mostly it was the audience trying to sound educated and smart in front of the hapless actresses (especially the snotty moderator) while dissecting their performance. All the posturing in the world won’t win my respect. Even if I didn’t agree, I valued the more honest comments I heard from the rest of the audience: “It was…cerebral. I guess I was born at the wrong time [to appreciate it].”

I suggest seeing it though. There’s another performance at The Hop tomorrow evening. Later, the group will tour through Minneapolis, UCLA, and then back to the east coast in Boston.