The 20th anniversary of the death of writer Bernard-Marie Koltès has occasioned an intriguing Franco-Japanese collaborative project at the NNTT.
New National Theatre, Tokyo
Compagnie Les Inachevés-espace de travail Théâtral
L'Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo
Ambassade de France au Japon
Society for the study of Tokyo, B.-M.Koltès at Gakushuin University
Conseil régional Rhône-AlpesDrac Rhônes-Alpes
Bonlieu-Scène nationale d'Annecy et de la Haute-Savoie
Graduate Course in Cultural Studies on Corporeal and Visual Representation at Gakushuin University
The gifted French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès passed away in 1989 at the young age of 41. He is remembered as one of the most innovative writers of the 20th century. In 2009, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Bernard-Marie Koltès's death, a major project was launched in his native France that will see his works produced all around the world.
Quai Ouest marks the culmination of that project, and will be staged as a joint production between the French theatre company Les Inachevés and the New National Theatre, Tokyo. In this striking work, an outstanding French production staff, a Japanese cast of fine actors, and young actors who have completed the NNT Drama Studio and been selected by audition will take on Koltès with language and movement.
The reckless and dangerous acts of young people hoping to escape their helpless world for the one of their dreams; the emotional turmoil of the adults.... In a specially built stage in the NNTT's Playhouse theatre, we present the world of Koltès—one which stands as a powerful statement on the absurdity of living.
Comments from the Director,
Like the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare, Bernard-Marie Koltès compels us as human beings to confront our impossibilities, hopes, and continual failures face-to-face. Koltès protests to us. "You boast of your humanism and democracy. But these have failed. You kill one another like animals—barbarians convinced that you have reached some state of humanity." As a storyteller, this is what Koltès is saying to us.
Why is it meaningful that Quai Ouest will be performed in Japan? It is because this play compels us to consider the two themes of globalization and personal relationships. The play may have been written 27 years ago, but even today it is ahead of its time. Who are we? What is our economic, social and cultural identity? Quai Ouest raises these questions.
This work is about the actors, space and light, and is a meeting between theatre and dance. We will make full use of theatrical techniques, while exploring some important questions such as: What is modernity mean today? In this era of globalization, what is the role of theatre? As our world is inundated with new technologies, do people still have the ability to move one another?
Japan and France are similar countries. I mean in the sense that "identity" means a lot. In Japan and in France, historical identity and cultural identity are very important issues.
In this play, career actors and younger actors will be brought together in performance. In having the two groups perform together, the theatre as art takes on an additional meaning, as a medium of "transmission". This work gets back to the fundamental meaning of theatre. Three excellent young actors were selected through auditions. An additional seven actors were chosen. These seven act as the "witnesses" of the project, and they will participate in the creative process. The veterans will not teach their younger counterparts, but rather help create an atmosphere for learning through the active exchange of ideas, and present a new form of collaboration.
Traditionally, the French government's approach to cultural exchange has been to present French culture by producing complete works in other countries. But they sensed the limitations with this approach. The policy has shifted, and rather than simply performing and thereby changing the culture rooted in the host country, the effort is made to leave it as is. I am extremely pleased to have the New National Theatre, Tokyo as a partner, and that this ambitious project has come to fruition in Japan.
Uyama Hitoshi, Artistic Director
I think this is a very unusual form of martial arts.
It is not enough for a play to be simply unusual, but it is worse for it to be ordinary, so in that sense I really have high expectations.
I anticipate an explosion that will propel the NNTT forward.
Specially built stage in the Playhouse Theatre
Quai Ouest takes place in a warehouse district. As a means to create this atmosphere for the production, the theatre will be arranged in a style different from that normally used. The design will be a "stage-on-stage", with a temporary stage and audience seating being erected on the rear stage of the Playhouse. Viewers can look forward to a landscape that is rather different from the norm.
In a port city—it could well be New York. Cast aside by "civilized" society, an immigrant family has taken up residence in an abandoned warehouse teeming with rats and cockroaches. They are Rudolfe and his wife Cecile, and their children, Charles and Claire. One night a bourgeois man named Koch and his secretary, Monique, come by car to the wharf. They are clearly out of place.
As the story progresses, we see emerge the conflicting views of the members of Rudolfe's family, as they try various ploys to separate Koch and Monique from their valuables. The central concern of the play is that between young Charles, who wants to take the car and escape to a better place, and his family who tries to stop him. The play depicts the recklessness and dangerous emotional turmoil of youth.