Antigone Dead People
"[Small Wooden Shoe] creates a Japanese version of the play in an one-week collaboration period with dracom, the Osaka-based performance group led by Jun Tsutsui that have long been working with the experimental employment of pre-recorded speech. A world premiere. Performed in English/Japanese and surtitled in Japanese/English. Consider the play’s hard subject in a soft ballroom environment, just like in Brecht’s “smoker’s theatre” — though of course smoking in the seating area isn’t permitted!"
– from Sound Live Tokyo curator Tomoyuki Arai
Small Wooden Shoe, a (mostly) theatre company based in Toronto whose activities’ keywords are “faith,” “obedience,” “generosity,” “rigour,” “risk,” “big,” “cheap” and “theatre,” has created an Antigone of our times in the absence of the prophet, which premiered at The Tranzac Club, Toronto’s unofficial home of experimental music, in 2012. All the characters are dead from the beginning, and as long as they are not aware of the fact that they are dead, they enact their drama through pre-recorded speech. Emerging sound artist and composer Christopher Willes does the audio, and the writer is Evan Webber, whose Little Iliad and its sequel, Ajax, which connect Sophocles’ Trojan War plays, U.S. Military PTSD therapy and Skype via Afganistan, have drawn international attention.
“The endless, reiterative confrontation between a corrupt but practical state and the idealist individual is represented as a kind of karaoke track” (Webber).
It is an Antigone played by ghosts who have been performing the same story already for more than 2,000 years. Long since dislocated and instumentalized, their tragedy now means something very different from Sophocles’ version first performed around 441 B.C.. Here, the ghosts begin to wonder what would happen if they could perform it differently.
Small Wooden Shoe’s artistic director Jacob Zimmer asserts, “The ideal might be a standing community of collaborators who work on projects together for months or years and also, if needed, create a play in twenty minutes to be performed that night.” Now the company creates a Japanese version of the play in an one-week collaboration period with dracom, the Osaka-based performance group led by Jun Tsutsui that have long been working with the experimental employment of pre-recorded speech. A world premiere. Performed in English/Japanese and surtitled in Japanese/English. Consider the play’s hard subject in a soft ballroom environment, just like in Brecht’s “smoker’s theatre” — though of course smoking in the seating area isn’t permitted!
Small Wooden Shoe
Founded in 2001 by Jacob Zimmer in Halifax and now based in Toronto, Small Wooden Shoe is a (mostly) theatre company that comprises collaborators from diverse backgrounds and swings between the intimate and the epic. The name comes from the tools that French workers would use to jam the machinery when on strike (their “sabot” — small wooden shoes — gave English the word “sabotage”). Believing that good ideas are entertaining, their work has included a large-scale reading of Brecht newly translated by themselves (Life of Galileo for Tracy Wright), challenging readings combined with songs that are easy to sing (Difficult Plays and Simple Songs), live-to-tape variety shows (The Fun Palace Radio Variety Show), a direct conversation with audience in a kitchen about coal miners’ movement in the early 20th century (Sedition — or Kindness Makes Me Cry Like Nothing Else), a theatrical lecture about scientific revolutions (Dedicated to the Revolutions), a massive whole-day “UnConference” without panels and lectures, Christmas concerts, online think tanks, public meetings, workshops, keynote lectures and publications, all of which they consider to be part of the same larger project that is Small Wooden Shoe.
A performance collective founded in 1992 mainly by students of Osaka University of Arts as Dramatic Company and renamed itself as dracom in 1998. Led by playwright/director Jun Tsutsui, they present a full performance annually, which they call “Saiten [Festival].” Among their past “Saiten” works are a 20-hour performance Greenthat made a full use of the length of time for which they rented the venue (2003), Tokushu Hamlet [A feature on Hamlet] that collaged information found on the Internet with a search term “hamlet” (2004), Moreuta [Leaking Song]that created estranging sensations by staggering recorded speeches and performers’ silent movements (2007),Hakarazumo [Unintentionally], a story of groups of young people who try to apply the rules of a sports to a different sports (2008), Jiken-Bo [Book/Mother of Incident] inspired by a murder of a mother in Aizu-Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture) and the Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus (2010, an Emerging Artists program in Festival/Tokyo), gutter(2011) based on Sophocles’ Ajax and a true story of an old man who tried to kill himself but only fell into a gutter in front of his house, and Hobo no Tei [Scurrying Away] (in OSAKA, Kitakagaya) that was shown in a camping tent to 10 to 15 people (2013).