The Theater of Cruelty

A fragment of the stage floor

I suddenly realized it’s already that time of the year when trees start shedding their leaves.

Rehearsals for the play, “Kurotokage (Black Lizard)” began yesterday. Under the direction of David Leveaux, I have begun to break down and work my way through Yukio Mishima’s script with all the staff and 25 actors involved. David, who saw “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Peter Brook when he was 13, borrowed Peter Brook’s words in later describing Shakespeare’s play, saying, “‘Language colliding in the air’ would be an appropriate expression to use in also describing ‘Kurotokage.’”

First, to gain a grasp of the overall storyline, rehearsals progressed at a surprising speed. Lines that you thought you had memorized are forgotten when you try to speak them while moving, and actually hear the other actors voicing their lines. We were expecting David to stop us, but he just kept us going. All the actors looked at one another wondering how far we were going to go, as we hesitantly exchanged words, but after a while we all began to feel as though we were accomplices in a crime. By the second day, we had already decided on what to do for a sixth of the script, although only provisionally. It was also the first time for me to experience having so many people come to rehearsals, and it was scary, as if I had to suddenly perform an uncompleted play in front of an audience. This secretly prompted me to name the rehearsals, “The Theater of Cruelty.”

From now until the start of performances, I will no doubt be guided by David’s magical words, stimulated by the powerful and phantasmagorical acting of my costars, and be nudged along while making mistakes over and over again in my pursuit of the ultimate performance. I plan to enjoy this precious experience of trying new ideas, scrapping them, then examining the leftover fragments to build something new again.

Performances of “Kurotokage” will start in the New Year, on January 9. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

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