Laura DeLuca (clarinet) and Mikhail Shmidt (violin) of the Seattle Chamber Players talk music, technology, psychological thrillers and more.
LD: Misha, tell us why we decided that we should do this huge project of combining music, film, technology. Normally we choose a geographical location. So...
MS: Why? I feel it's our first Icebreaker – our first real festival of the 21st century. Where we're surrounded with this overload of information, when all the borders between genres are being completely obliterated, where popular music, classical music, video, movies, visual art, video installation, where the borders between them are not existing very often. And we...
by Tessa Hulls
By Tessa Hulls, Tia Kramer, and "Eric Olson"
Tessa: In the curator’s note for Niwa Gekidan Penino’s The Room Nobody Knows, Lane Czaplinksi writes: “I’m not suggesting any work of art is capable of defying critique but I like it when using words to respond to art is made more difficult, all the same.”
So words are definitely not the correct medium for responding to The Room Nobody Knows. I am not sure there is a correct medium. Maybe a quartet of acid-tripping cuttlefish in smoking jackets bouncing on a trampoline while playing Pachebel’s Canon on large pieces of flank steak? (Has this already been done?)
But in lieu of that, serendipitous coincidence meant that I had already crafted an ideal non-verbal response vessel for this show. Eric Olson and I are doing collaborative responses to all the shows this season, but he had to miss this one because he is in...
by Ariel Glassman
Watching The Room Nobody Knows was a special kind of voyeurism. Make no mistake - when you watch it, you are watching the product of somebody working their shit out. The kind of shit we are told we should be ashamed to have to be battling in the first place. The kind that everyone keeps locked up inside and most people never acknowledge - perhaps because they don't even know it's there.
It's all on display here - in some ways quite literally, and in some ways very quietly and subtly. Sibling rivalry, jealousy and extreme adulation. Persistence and blind optimism in the face of years of failure and setbacks. Power and powerlessness. That the director is a (now former) psychiatrist - and the child of two psychiatrists - should come as no shock to someone who is even mildly paying attention. There is so much maleness in this work - I overheard one lobbygoer after the show joke that "it really could have used more dicks." So I almost stopped paying attention...
by Mimi Katano
I have yet to thoroughly unpack The Room Nobody Knows by Niwa Gekidan in my head. It was as if I took a trip inside someone’s head for an hour, where I was swimming through distorted logic, fantastical habitat, unfiltered thoughts, and riddles after riddles. All strung together with Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Played on four recorders. Shaped like penises. I found myself trying to make sense of it for the first 5 minutes and then I stopped. And when I did, I started to get that this was not a piece to “get.” It is a piece to be experienced. Like a dream. The director Kuro Tanino said, the piece was born out of his altered state when he was studying for the entrance examination for medical school. He was sleep deprived and starving and studying all hours of the night just to be like his older brother. Learning that, everything about the piece made sense.
Being a theatre artist I have had my share of seeing, and being part of, peculiar plays and dance...
Director Kuro Tanino mentioned in an interview that he didn’t view his work as strange, and I agree. Although the obsessions made manifest in the show mostly aren’t my particular obsessions and fantasies (I wonder what it’s like to be a dude?), there was an uncomfortable familiarity there. It’s kind of like taking the lid off your brain – the lid that we have to keep tightly shut in order to keep society functioning somewhat normally – for an hour and then trying to clamp it back on. Ego, desire, emotion, jealousy, crossed wires, sex, power, ambition, fear – and joy and beauty too. I think if the show feels strange to you, perhaps you should spend a little more time delving into your own creepy psyche. But not too much – you might never come back.
Visually the show is so gorgeous. You could spend an hour just looking at the beautiful, ingenious set. It’s sort of like emotions come to life in a tangible piece of art. The winged chairs are particularly lovely...
by Ross Lambert
In the lobby before the show, a friend suggested that to best understand what we were about to see, I needed to take all of my sexual thoughts, fantasies, and hang-ups, and put them in an imaginary room and close the door. “Then, after the show, open that door again. Then you’ll really get it,” she said. My first thought was, why the hell would I want to open that door again? If I really could shut away every iota of my sexuality, all of the mistakes, the anxieties, the regrets—oh, the regrets!—and just walk away, I would. Actually, I would first set the room ablaze, light a cigarette off a burning pile of penis insecurities, and then walk away, in slow motion toward the camera, casting off the butt just as the room behind me explodes, and I wouldn’t even flinch. Fade to black. Fin.
Sadly, we can’t simply turn our backs on our sexuality. It always finds its way to the foreground. And, in the case of Kuro Tunino, his found...
by Joyce S.C. Liao
I came from Taiwan. When I watched this show, it was hard for me not to think about the very high unemployment rate among the younger generations in Taiwan and other parts of Asia. Thinking living on the minimum wage is hard? In Taiwan, the legal minimum wage is so low that if a person works 40-hour weeks at a convenience store or at MacDonald’s, they will barely be able to pay their own rent (not talking about utility bills and other expenses)! As a result, many young people continue to live with their parents many years after they graduate from college – or in Kenji’s case, it was his 27th, 28th . . , 27th year living with his older brother while trying to pass the entrance examination into the medical school.
What could have happened during the 27 years? It is a little difficult to imagine if one has never been “stuck” in that situation. Why did Kenji not try to find a job to win his independence? Was he more afraid of not passing the exam, afraid of actually taking...
As often as I see work at OtB, sometimes performances like Niwa Gekidan Penino's The Room Nobody Knows take me for a HUGE trip where images become extremely hard to articulate and my dreams become a mosaic of colors, questions, images and feelings. Having seen the show twice now, (and looking forward to my third experience tonight) I have finally managed to make sense of a few thoughts around my experience.
1. At the dress rehearsal, surrounded by a large group of males, I found myself acutely aware of my femininity. It brought my reality of being an audience member watching humans act on-stage to the front of my mind.
2. I have never thought that a set alone could send me on an adventure full of curiosity, masculinity, feminity, comedy, a fairy-tale reality, akwardness and pure amazement.
3. Dead birds can be quite funny. Who knew.
4. Chess might never be the same - nor will tighty whiteys...