November 28, 2012

Report: Ainu Shadow Puppet Project in Tokyo!

I was able to attend the at Ainu Shadow Puppet Project show at Asahi Art Square in Asakusa, Tokyo on Sunday, November 25, 2012.

Headed towards Asahi Art Square

The show was a brilliant mix of traditional Ainu yukar storytelling, Ainu traditional song, modern music, Indonesian shadow puppetry, dashed with bits of humor, political satire, and social commentary, all fused together with the American cinematic flavor of director Larry Reed.
Post-show talk

As Director Reed described in the post-show artist discussion, it was essentially a live performance of a movie. Indeed, arguably much more real and entertaining than a simple projection of film on a screen - the live performance definitely created a direct connection between the artists and the audience, drawing them into the story.  

Demonstration of what happens backstage
Also interesting was the discussion on the importance of balancing the conservative and the innovative in developing the show, as is often the case when working with indigenous cultures. One must be mindful of conserving tradition and at the same time find ways to create something new. 

Director Reed also noted that although he often asked Oki to explain different aspects of the story, in dealing with mythology not everything need to be understood, nor did everything need to make sense.
Shadow Puppet of OKI

The last chance this year to see the Ainu Shadow Puppet Project show will be December 1st in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, but hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future. Given the rich oral traditions of the Ainu people, I personally am hoping that the Ainu Shadow Puppet Project will be putting on many shows to share with audiences a variety of different Ainu stories.

(see more photos from the show on our Facebook page)

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