Sea of remembrance: how cruel the floating world, its solaces how few – and soon my unmourned life will vanish with the dew.
Geisha is perhaps one of the biggest symbols of Japanoiserie. It is an empty screen on which all our fantasies of Japan can be projected, even for many contemporary Japanese individuals today who do not come into contact easily with this old world. However, it is not just exotic, but it is a powerful arena to discuss the water world or a dream world – a floating world. It seems to encapsulate many notions of Japanese identity and gender relationships, but more universally, it is a space to discuss life, dreams, and the reality for the world.
New York-based performer Karen Kandel, winner of several Obies, will weave together stories from geishas, maikos, clients, their wives, okamisans, offspring of geishas, and anthropologists. Kandel will animate this voice tapestry, giving life to the secret world of the geisha. Joining her onstage will be female impersonator and kabuki dancer Gojo Masanosuke. He will dance the female onnagata role, drawing from the age-old repertory of kabuki and nihon buyoh, for the geisha is the tragic heroine of many a kabuki play. Kandel and Masanosuke complement each other – these two unexpected conspirators will jointly evoke the dream of the absent geisha. They are the dream sellers, like the geishas.
Presented as part of the programme of Spoleto Festival USA (USA); Singapore Arts Festival (Singapore); Gothenburg Dance & Theatre Festival (Sweden); and New Vision Arts Festival (Hong Kong).