Workers discuss restaurant arrangements for a colleague who has been fired. A young woman complains to her male colleague about the air conditioner being turned down. A woman who has been laid off gives her farewell speech. Under an apparent banality, these three situations illustrate the distress and disarray of a society falling apart.
The Japanese artist Toshiki Okada sculpts the language of young workers who have been duped, their hopes dashed, echoing the chopped, plain and repetitive speech of Tokyo youth. The performers’ bodies jolt with convulsive movements, tossing and turning under stark lighting to disconcerting jazz music. At a loss for words, disconnected from their bodies, the portrayal is caustic and the humour offbeat in a tale of youth lost in an air-conditioned nightmare.
The playwright and director is a rising star on the international theatre scene. He expresses the malaise – no job security, uncertain prospects – and obvious despair of a generation that had been promised a brilliant future, in a pitiless portrait that rings true. In both East and West, instability is yet another product of globalization.
The Japanese writer, director and choreographer Toshiki Okada was born in 1973 in Yokohama, where he still lives. His works give voice to disillusioned young people, conveying the anxiety of a generation that lost all points of reference after the unprecedented financial crisis and economic collapse in Japan. His language is that of the streets of Tokyo, and the performers’ bodies are at times shaken by irrepressible gestures and mechanical movements. He received the 2005 Toyota Choreography Awards for Air Conditioner/Cooler, and the prestigious Kishida Kunio award for Five Days in March. His next pieces, Enjoy in 2006 and Free Time in 2008, also deal with new definitions of work.
Every Man for Himself
Founded in 1997, his company is called chelfitsch, a neologism that evokes a childish deformation of the English word “selfish”, for that is Japan as seen by Okada – selfish and childish. With austere scenes, harsh lighting, muscular music and actors who appear to move despite themselves, his cubist theatre has met with great acclaim in Japan, leading to a Yokohama Award for Art and Cultural Encouragement in 2005. For the past few years, chelfitsch has been presenting its shows in major theatre festivals in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Singapore and New York.
« Okada (…) dessine un univers hyper abouti où le geste signifie autant que les mots, où le jazz fait corps avec le conte, où les lumières trahissent l’atmosphère, où la danse rattrape la parole au vol. Un travail d’orfèvre ! »
Catherine Makereel, Le Soir, 28/05/2010
« Toshiki Okada prend un thème, ici le travail précaire (…) et l’exploite dans l’espace jusqu’à la névrose. (…) Et ce monde désincarné qu’il met en scène nous touche au plus profond de nous-mêmes, car il nous renvoie (…) à une certaine absurdité du monde d’aujourd’hui. »
Marie Tikova, Les Trois Coups, 07/10/2010
« Toshiki Okada a choisi une scénographie exemplaire d'intelligence et de raffinement (…) pour figurer l'univers impitoyable d'une grande société japonaise où un employé stagiaire va être remercié. »
Philippe du Vignal, Théàtre du blog, 05/10/2010
PRODUCED BY CHELFITSCH
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOSHIKI OKADA WITH MARI ANDO + SAHO ITO + KEI NAMBA + RIKI TAKEDA + TAICHI YAMAGATA + FUMIE YOKOO LIGHTING DESIGN TOMOMI OHIRA SOUND DESIGN NORIMASA US HIKAWA
COPRODUCTION HEBBEL AMUFER / HAU (BERLIN) + ASSOCIATE PRODUCTION PRECOG (TOKYO) SUPPORTED BY AGENCY FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN IN THE FISCAL 2011 + THE SAISON FOUNDATION
PRESENTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH PLACE DES ARTS
PREMIERED AT HEBBEL AM UFER, BERLIN, OCTOBER 2009
WRITTEN BY DIANE JEAN TRANSLATED BY NEIL KROETSCH
Under 30 and over 65: $26
Up to 40% off with a discount package
3 or more shows
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / FESTIVAL TRANSAMÉRIQUES