Coming soon: The Asian Sowetan

From Sowetan to Japanese.

Quite the transition,eh? I’m making that change, though.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be cast in a fourth term production which will see us exploring Japanese Noh theatre styles of performance.

Japanese WHAT, you ask?

Noh is a theatrical form unique to Japan. They’ve been doing it since WAYBACK (I’m talking 14th century here). Anyway, it usually involves far less reliance on dialogue, which makes it quite different from the theatre we’re used to.

Noh mask
Traditional Noh theatre mask

Tristan Jacobs is a masters student at the Rhodes drama department and he’s chosen this specific route for his piece – which is to be called Hanamichi.

A number of us rocked up at his audition last week and that was a boot camp of note. Against a backdrop of soundtracks to popular anime series, we slugged it out in the hope that we’d make enough of an impression.

The end of the audition left most of us wheezing and clutching muscles we never knew existed.

It turns out I’ll be playing the Shite (relax, it’s pronounced “shee-teh”). Wikipedia says that the Shite is the character that introduces the audience into the world of the drama.

So ja.

He wears a mask. There’s also an elaborate full-body costume in the works, which is quite exciting.

Shite performing in Noh theatre

Preparation has already started for the whole shebang. What I expected to be a fitting for the mask turned out quite different.

I rocked up at the drama department on Friday only to wind up lying in what felt like a sacrificial table as the moulding of a mask unfolded.

Let me put it this way. I’ve (thankfully) never broken a bone, but in making this mask, I had plaster of paris… on my face.

Bianca Binneman applies first layer of mask

It was beyond cool, though. Felt like being part of some epic movie. The kind that has elaborate costuming which takes hours to apply.

Looking forward to that whole piece as it develops.

I haven’t posted here in a while so I may as well fill you in.

The Allan Webb Hall cocktail evening in May was pretty cool. Pity that my performance wasn’t stellar. I just got extremely nervous, went with jokes I hadn’t thought through and there were a lot of moments littered with unbearable silence as I struggled to coax laughs out of an unfamiliar crowd. I’d really like to go back there and hopefully do far better when I do.

The next week saw an appearance at the Grahamstown City Hall as host of the university‘s International Week concert. It was a celebration of the many nationalities represented at Rhodes and just a massive cultural spectacle.

MC at International Week concert
Pic: Catherine Pennels

It was also a chance to try out some of the new material that was on ice for so long.

There was an interesting moment when one of the performers (Luis Gimenez) had a technical glitch just as he was about to start his set. I was backstage with the organisers and, amid the confusion of the sound guys frantically working to restore the equipment, I dashed out there and created a diversion with an new joke that thankfully landed.

Great learning experience all-round. More lined-up on the comedy and MCing trail next term.

Stay tuned…

-Tyson

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