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Krazy for Kabuki

Ka*Bu*Ki review from the culture annals of SFR's blog sfreeper.com

January 28, 2009, 12:00 am

Apparently the Revolution will be staged. At least, that’s the goal of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival. Last night the Festival, which is put on by Albuquerque’s Tricklock Company made its one and only trip up I-25 for a performance of KA*BU*KI by Lonny Gordon. Gordon’s performance is an interesting mixture of storytelling, dance and music and tells of Gordon’s lessons as the only non-Japanese performers to train at the Grand Kabuki Theater in Tokyo. Through a narrative that includes the history of Kabuki to specific techniques Gordon offered the audience a grand tour of an ancient art form that exists in the West more as legend than a living approach to theater.

As a student of Japanese anthropology in my free time (and you thought it was all beer and concerts!) I was fascinated by Gordon’s simple approach to explaining his art to an audience completely unfamiliar with it. He disolved the mystery behind the techniques and aesthetic with humor without degrading the elegance and traditionalism inherent in Kabuki.

Gordon’s performance encompassed all aspects of what ancient Indian philosopher Bharata Muni described in his N?tya??stra as rasa. (I know, mixing cultures here but Muni’s is the best performing arts theory I’ve ever come across.) To achieve this state of emotion in an audience the performer must reach eight emotions within his audience: love/eroticism, comic, pathos, fury, heroism, horror, odiousness, wonder and a ninth added later by Abhinavagupta, tranquility. Through his funny stories, cultural screw ups, outsider status and the passing of tests Gordon allowed the audience to wander through these nine states with a fluidity rarely found in Western theater.

By the way, if you find this $95 fan beautiful you should see the $7K one Gordon brought out during his performance. Japan is known for its aesthetics and its no wonder the place is so damn expensive!

The Revolutions fest continues, albiet down in Albuquerqe, until the 31st. Ride the Rail Runner down for the early shows or heck, stay the night and check out a late one and an early one the next day. Click here for Revolutions’ schedule.

 

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