Thursday, April 23, 2015

Soju Projekt at Sakura Con

Soju Projekt held a collaborative performance and lecture at Sakura Con 2015.

Kenneth Lawrence, Director of Soju Projekt, spoke about Noh (Japanese masked dance drama) and how it ties into modern storytelling in anime. He also introduced us to the gamelan which originates from the islands of Indonesian and is a collection of metal (predominantly brass) instruments. In addition to traditional cultural music, gamelan has a presence within the world of modern and western music, from classical (Debussy) to rock (Sonic Youth) to anime (Akira).

Kumiko Lawrence demonstrated how the Noh mask uses light and angle to change mood and expression.  An upward tilt of the head and the mask's expression becomes hopeful and happy.  At a downward angle, the mask's expression becomes thoughtful and sad.  

Kenneth shared an original Noh story about the restless spirit of a warrior who doesn't realize he is dead until the memories begin to return.  The story was accompanied with music performed by Golden Heron Gamelan and Stan Shikuma (Seattle Kokon Taiko) with a collaborative backdrop of Sumi-e artwork by Kumiko and visual media by Kaz.

At the story's climax, the warrior relives his final battle.  The energy and desperation of the battle was amplified with the beat of the taiko drum, as each beat translated on screen to a red whirl of slashes and blows.  

It would be fantastic to see this performance in a more formal setting with great acoustics, a darkened theater, a stage with spotlights, and a large screen for the visual media.  

Thank you to everyone in Soju Projekt!  I'm looking forward to seeing your future collaborations!

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