The performance in Cuba by the Japanese Kageboushi theater of human shadows company illustrated an abundance of values, such as gratitude, sacrifice, courage, and respect for our elders.
If the artistic content was visually most impressive, the messages transmitted through the tales which were universally grasped by audiences, regardless of age nationality or background, are also worthy of acclaim.
One of the techniques utilized by the theater company: a combination of puppetry and lights meant that two children‘s fables, The Grateful Stork and The Mochi Tree could be appreciated during early August at the National Theater in Havana. Both displayed a splendid synchronization of light, music and chromatic beauty created by the combination of traditional Japanese performance arts and pioneering multimedia applications.
Through the use of a visual spectacle, this theatrical media endeavors to balance light and sound to transmit feelings of love, courage and compassion in a whirlwind of emotions, known in Japanese as ‘wa’- the harmony which characterizes the national essence of the country.
The third story entitled “Hands up who wants to have fun” provided the audience with magical scenes of easily recognizable figures and images created through the use of the performing artists’ bodies.
Ostriches, elephants, monkeys, giraffes, octopuses, squid, crab, eyes with moving pupils, volcanoes, trees and ninjas all appeared and disappeared with fluidity and grace.
The interactions between the artists were really gentle in nature, illustrations of the rewards of complementarity, in other words, the essential teamwork required in collaborative theater.
The ballet-loving Cuban public gave an enthusiastic standing ovation to one dancer who transformed herself into a swan in time to music composed by Camille Saint-Sans in order to exhibit the nature of this mythical creature, and later Michel Fokine turned into a jewel of dance.
The artistic techniques employed by the theater of shadows explored three axioms. The first of which warned, as outlined by their Japanese presenter, that “shadows are alive”. The second showed the universality of body language, so dominant that the absent words are not missed.
The third was a trick, tried in battle, by Renaissance painters, by impressionists, by the world’s best exponents of theater, and throughout every chapter of art’s history since ancient times that undoubtedly the eye only beholds what it wishes to see.
The vast expanse from there to reality is exactly what is most enchanting about the style of theater performed by the now 47-year old Kageboushi company, one of Japan’s most famous and renowned companies known to be cultural ambassadors of their nation.
The Covarrubias Hall of the National Theater could not accommodate all wanting to see the show. Even with many standing or seated on the floor, in excess of 200 could not be admitted.
The tradition of silhouette and shadow theater in Japan dates back to the Edo Period of the XVII and XIX centuries and records show that revolving lamps and multi-positioned hands were first used to create shadows depicting diverse objects and animals.
In the Japanese language, ‘Kageboushi’ actually means silhouette. The group will, as part of a friendship year between Japan and the Central American Integration System (SICA), tour seven Central American nations this summer.
While visiting the continent, the company traveled to Cuba to share their wonderful show in Havana, totally free of charge to the public, as a gift to the Caribbean island by the Asiatic nation’s embassy.Share on FB Share on TT