Friday, April 06, 2007

A turn of events and Kabuki

This holiday was intended to be laid back and confined to Tokyo. Unexpectedly, I went on a day trip to Kamakura and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that my friend Rika, convinced me that I should visit Kyoto. So I hopped onto the Shikansen, or bullet train, and headed out to Kyoto. It was interesting, full of temples, castles, old streets and tourists. It is the high season because of the cherry blossoms, and rightly so. Some of the scenery is truely beautiful.

But while in Kyoto, I was told by Rika that her son caught influenza and has a high fever. He spent several hours in the hospital. So for my own sake, I could not stay with them for the rest of my trip. I spent an extra night in Kyoto and am now staying in a hotel in Ginza for my last two nights. Why this long story? Because I basically cannot upload images on the hotel's computers. So I am afraid that you will all have to wait till I get back to Singapore. And I am sorry Ead, no hot women photographs.

But I had a treat tonight. I went to watch a form of traditional Japanese theatre called Kabuki. I met a couple of local Japanese yesterday in Kyoto who said that they have never been to Kabuki because it is too expensive and they could not understand the classical Japanese spoken in Kabuki. As a visual person I have enjoyed Kabuki in London before. There is another form of traditional theatre called Noh which I failed to be engaged in. The nice thing about tonight's performance is that there is an accompanying ear set you can rent for an English translation. In the interval there is an introduction to Kabuki. The narrator explains that Kabuki and English theatre are different. In English theatre, it is reprsentational, creating a representation of reality and getting the audience to emotionally respond to the theme or story. Kabuki is presentational. It presents a theatrical experience and does not hide it. The main object is the actor and the over riding goal is that his presentation is beautiful. The story and reality of the narrative are secondary and are devices for the Kabuki actors to perform.

I believe that anyone who is visually inclined can appreciate Kabuki, it is a visual art. Noh theatre is much more difficult as it is a literary theatre form. You have to be not just a textural person, but a classical Japanese textural person.

But I love this idea of the representational versus the presentational. In photography, some work like photojournalism, represents a reality reported. But work like Edward Weston's figure studies or Ansel Adam's landscapes are presentational. The presentational work are objects in themselves and get an emotional response from the form of the image. What an idea to come across in Japan!

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