The Year 12 theatre ensemble recently performed Kannon, a Japanese Butoh Theatre performance on 4 – 6 March in the QACI Theatre Studio. The performance was directed by International Butoh Artist-in-Residence Mark Hill, and featured Megan Janet White, a body-based performer, teacher, choreographer. The performance was complete with the utilisation of incredible lighting, sound and effects by Theatre Educators, Mr Brad Jennings and Mr Dan Crestani. Year 12 students were involved in collaboratively devising the piece and explored how themes of compassion and support were particularly necessary during hardship, resulting in an engaging, dynamic, and cohesive performance.
The style of Butoh is contemporary Japanese physical theatre that is not devised to be intellectually understood, but to be felt and experienced. It is abstract, and tells stories through the physicality of the ensemble, showcasing a style of art often less prominent in modern theatre. It requires collaboration and a kinaesthetic response to trust one another on stage, and the Year 12s worked hard to create a piece of theatre that was impressive, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable.
We interviewed Isabella Kirkwood, a Year 12 performer and an audience members Matthew Nebe, Year 11 and Teacher Sandy Kiehne for their interpretation.
Interview with Isabella Kirkwood – Year 12 Theatre Performer in 'Kannon'
How would you describe Butoh?
Butoh is an ancient Japanese theatre form that has become a tradition for the Year 12 theatre ensemble to perform. Butoh is inherently indescribable, and that's what makes it Butoh. It's like ballet in how you have to discern the story from the movements, but it's simultaneously so grotesque and the furthest thing that could be from ballet.
What was the rehearsal to performance process like?
The process was really physically intense. We got to take part in so many activities that not only created content for the show but also brought us closer as an ensemble. We were all nervous to perform the show, but we trusted each other. We knew we had each other's backs and that's what got us through and made the incredible show that was.
What was your favourite moment of the experience?
My favourite moment is honestly always right after we finish the show. We're all so proud of each other and it is in this moment that I'm always reminded of how wonderful the ensemble is and how wonderful the experience is. Butoh gave us the chance to really bond as an ensemble, which we all took wholeheartedly and I'm so excited to see what comes next for our ensemble.
Interview with Matthew Nebe - Year 11 student and audience member
What did you find interesting about the performance?
Throughout the piece the ensemble moved in a jagged linear way, but Kannon moved in a curved soft way which created tension through the contrast
What did you like about it?
It was hard to make sense of initially, but that's what made it so beautiful overall. You are free to place your own interpretations on the performance. The physicality of the ensemble manipulated the tension in a way that I didn't know was possible without dialogue.
Interview with Mrs Kiehne
What did you enjoy most about Kannon?
I thought it was beautifully rendered and riveting throughout. It was wonderful to see the students work as an ensemble to produce something so inspiring, without using any dialogue.
..article written by Anna Ryley, Year 11