Kei Hibino, “Oscillating Between Fakery and Authenticity: Hirata Oriza’s Android Theatre”
Nanako Nakajima, “Aging Body in Dance: Researching Images of Children and their Perspectives”
日時 2012年1月21日 15:00ー18:00
場所 成城大学7号館 723教室
日比野啓。成蹊大学准教授。東京大学大学院文学部英文科修士課程、ニューヨーク市立大学演劇学科博士課程修了。編著に『明治・大正・昭和の大衆文化─「伝統の再創造」はいかにおこなわれたか』（彩流社、2008年）など、共著に『笑いと創造 第六集 基礎完成編』（勉誠出版、2010年）『岸田國士の世界』（翰林書房、2010年）、Samuel L. Leiter, ed. Rising from the Flames: The Rebirth of Theaterduring the Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952, (Lexington Book, 2010) など。
Oscillating Between Fakery and Authenticity: Hirata Oriza’s Android Theatre
Kei Hibino, Seikei University
Various kinds of negative responses some audience members express after seeing “Good-bye,” Hirata Oriza’s 15-minute piece featuring an actress and a female “android,” all seem to come from a feeling of betrayal they experience; having anticipated an authentic work of art, they are failed by their own expectation, for, what they think they see is a kind of technological hocus-pocus that glosses over a phony sentimental drama in essence. Their dismay may be compounded when they know “the android” does not respond even as programmed, much less of its accord. The timing of utterance is precise not because it is so calculated in advance but because a human actress offstage “lip-syncs” it. Remotely controlled by her, the android is nothing but a mechanized puppet, as we see it in a fairground booth.
The cheap sideshow quality of the production can be accentuated in the setting; the dimly lit stage successfully creates an otherworldly atmosphere, and yet makes everything on stage, including an actress and the android’s facial expressions, indistinct and ambiguous in the murky darkness. Bedridden invalid facing death, the human character is immobile, which makes a good excuse for the android remaining motionless; if it displayed more body movements to gesticulate, it would look less like a human being. The Japanese lines the American actress speaks with an obvious English accent can make an interesting contrast to the synthesized voice of the android but at the same time their unnaturalness cancel out each other. Once aware of these “camouflage” devices, audiences cannot but feel they are being duped, especially because they are motivated by the modern myth of omnipotent science to seek for something authentic and authoritative that would not be represented in a “conventional” theatre.
Yet delivering this “feel of fakery” to audiences is part of Hirata’s strategy. In the first place, like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, “Good-bye” is both a trashy imitation of the ordinary and a critique of realism that would make the ordinary special and unique through its framing effects. Yet Hirata does not allow audiences to take a critical distance from “fake” representations, just as Warhol does his viewers. Rather, he tries to ask audiences to empathize with them. Without there being such critical distance, some audiences can hardly see any meanings in cheap simulacra and make a negative judgement on Hirata’s play. But the dramatist’s intention is elsewhere. By asking audiences to interact with what he cannot authenticate, he wants to share his sense of alienation and emptiness with audiences; besieged by shoddy replicas, audiences as well as he are unable to get “the real thing.”
Most authentic of “the real things” Hirata and audiences cannot attain is death. It is true that the story is woven into the time-honored Romantic motif of the death drive, but showing the impossibility of dying here and now makes it a parody of it. Although the human character is supposed to be at her deathbed, audiences know what she faces is a fictitious death. On the other hand, as long as audiences live and are watching the play, they are also estranged from death. Thus fake death exists but nowhere can true one be found.
Following this inner logic of “Good-bye,” one only needs an easy step or two to conclude that Hirata employs an “android” as a metaphor of a countless inauthentic copies that surround human beings and make them unable to contact the “real.” In my presentation I hope to guide these steps by, for instance, relating the quoations from translated poems of Rimbaud’s and Karl Busse’s to Hirata’s quest for authenticity. Oscillating between fakery and authenticity, “Good-bye” maintains its aesthetic poise.
Aging Body in Dance: Researching Images of Children and their Perspectives
Due to recent medical advancements, the percentage of elderly people in society has increased drastically and aging has become a global phenomenon. Together with the population aging, the issue of aging becomes the emerging theme in various aspects of society in the 21st century. From a demographic point of view, an aging population is produced by two major factors: increased life expectancy and declining fertility rates. The population aging is thus also the result of the decreasing percentage of children within the society.
Aging is a forbidden subject in many Euro-American cultural contexts. Although the wisdom of the old philosophers is appreciated, the classic fear of old age, gerontophobia, persists in Euro-American contexts. The idea of childhood is also the product of modern society, following Philippe Ariès. The image of immaturity is reflected to the certain cultural and social expectations. While the old and the children are both considered the others in the society, they are the two opposites in terms of acquiring the knowledge.
Along with race and gender, age is a socially constructed difference; however, recent research in cultural studies has been dominated by studies of differences other than age. Cross-cultural research concerning aging fills the gaps of cultural, pedagogical, and gender studies. Thinking of aging as one’s gradual process, the re-examination of chronological age as well as the fundamental value of these socially constructed minorities are two subjects to reconsider.
In the western dance history, the NY postmodern dance in the 1960s and 1970s questioned the category of dance movement. Everyone including amateurs participated in dance, regardless of level of dance training. In addition, the movement of community dance and activism since the 1970s included the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the sexual and ethnic minorities as its own agency. In some cases of recent European contemporary performance, the children themselves stand on the stage, questioning us their artistic dependency.
In traditional Japanese dance as well as Butoh, the lifelong commitment of artistic and personal development usually covers up the loss of physical ability and preconceived technique. In contrast, the image of infancy is often declared in contemporary Japanese cultural phenomena and even promoted as one of the governmental policies. Not only kawaii culture, some cases of contemporary arts and performance in Japan are analyzed as “child body(コドモ身体)” or “Mi-seinen(未成年).” These image of infancy are brought through performers’ denial or misuse of “normal” dancers’ body stylized in the preconceived technique under the shadow of Japan’s modernity.
Since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child took effect in 1989, children’s empowerment as well as the other minorities has been well discussed in pedagogy and social welfare. Thinking along the issue of agency, self-determination, and care/caring in the context of dance, I reinterpret the cultural image of infancy and illuminate the Japanese aesthetics of aging body in dance, showing the mirror image of the respected old dancers.