Last year, when Doubtful Sound produced Phaedra’s Love, we were exploring the bleak and the taboo; things that are present in the societies we live in or come from but which are difficult to talk about, especially in public.
We’ve changed tack this year somewhat. We have been researching and working on projects that have a historical and cultural foundation in the land in which we live. When we decided to choose traditional stories from Yamagata for our play, we suddenly had an interesting challenge: create something that the local people of Shonai could be proud to accept as a representation of their folklore. This is not something I would have attempted without Shinako. She has a strong knowledge of Japanese history, and if she didn’t already know the answer to a question, she would know where to look it up.
We had the chance to perform Yama to Yamagata audiences in July. It was well received by the people who came, and we were especially thrilled to leave smiles on the faces of both Hiroshi Hatakeyama, who wrote the collection of stories our play is based on, and the monk at Gyokusenji, who’s beautiful old temple we performed the show at, and where the story The Seven Foxes and the Old Man with the Tumour on his Cheek is set.
We have a strong team involved who were never lacking in creative ideas during the rehearsal process. My writing was allowed be changed and paraphrased any way they liked, but with one restriction: there was to be no change to the events within the stories. We hope that the essence of the tales remains in you will see today.
If you happen to be seeing one of the matinée performances, you are welcome to join us afterwards for an actor/director/audience conversation about the show. If it’s currently evening, I’m sure the cast would love to talk with you if you have questions or comments.