Pappa Tarahumara: Interview with Hiroshi Koike Feb 5, 2007

by Sara E

For this show, we invited Seattle-based choreographer/dancer Maika Misumi and her husband Michael Katayama to interview Pappa T artistic director Hiroshi Koike in Japanese. If you speak Japanese, you can listen to the interview here If you don't speak Japanese I encourage you to read the English transcript of the audio interview... especially if you saw the show. I think it sheds an interesting light on the performance. I also want to add a comment about my own experience watching the piece... In retrospect, the marketing copy and images we used for Pappa T emphasized the simplest aspect of the story, three girls coming of age. Perhaps this helps explain why so many people used this angle when responding to the production in lobby conversations and in reviews. While this theme was certainly a big part of the show, I think we only emphasized it in the marketing copy because we honestly weren't sure whether the more epic themes in Chekhov would come forward or whether they would be lost in translation. I first saw the live version of the show in the dress rehearsal on Tuesday night and realized how much I had underestimated this performance. I read Chekhov's play in college and saw it at the Intiman 18 months ago and while the Pappa T version had no English text, I left the experience feeling real, palpable emotions that are common to Chekhov: longing, nostalgia and grief. For me the overwhelming effect of the Pappa T version was not the sexual coming of age (although that was present) but rather the intense meditation on living. The awareness of life and death. The tension between purpose and pursuit. When do we stop waiting for life to begin? I feel like I’m forever frantically gesturing  “over there... over there ”¦ If I can just be there - that is when I will finally be living. ” I went home and fed my cat that night, feeling both sad and happy for her. She is not aware she is going to die nor is she probably waiting for her life to begin. She’s just living. Despite my renewed despair over the futility of it all, I’ve actually felt reinvigorated about my place in the world and my own pursuits since seeing the show. I worry that some viewers will reduce this piece to being only about women but as with Chekhov’s Three Sisters, I don’t think the epic questions posed in the production (entrapment, longing, fear) are uniquely female problems or old fashioned ones. As an American woman I’m told I can do anything and be anyone and that I should feel far from trapped, but somehow, existential longing occasionally overrides my relentless American optimism. I had the privilege to speak with Hiroshi Koike one night following the performance. He asked whether I found it confusing that they had not provided subtitles for the few text-heavy sections. Having seen the performance three times, I found the few longer passages a delightful mystery, something that made the piece more magical for me because (as with most dance pieces) I was left to fill in the blanks and intuit what I wanted during those sections. I confessed to him, though, that there was just one passage at the end where curiosity really burned at me. Hiroshi was kind enough to fill me in. In the closing moments the women line up and repeat variations on a line of text ”¦in unison ”¦assertively ”¦mouthing silently ”¦ simply:  “I want to live. ” Posted By: Sara