VAN GOGH written and performed by Bill Kischuck. Presented by Whiplash Theatre at Artword. August 3 at 9:30 pm, August 4 at 6:30 pm, August 6 at 12:30 pm, August 7 at 10 pm, August 10 at 8 pm, August 11 at 5 pm. Rating: NNNNN
bill kischuck is one lucky play-wright. He gets double mileage from his works, creating versions for both English- and Japanese-speaking audiences.Back in the 80s, Kischuck formed Whiplash Theatre, presenting one-person versions of King Lear and Hamlet and a show about Artaud, all of which relied heavily on physical theatre. In 1989 he went to study in Japan -- "I thought about learning karate, but that didn't last long after my nose was broken" -- and discovered Noh theatre.
Now he's back in Toronto with van Gogh, which premiered last November in English at a Japanese international drama festival. He's currently translating the show into Japanese.
"My inspiration was paintings by van Gogh, notably The Sower," he says. "I could see that the artist had had the religious experience that I longed for. Putting God on the canvas, he created not a literal picture but rather an ecstatic vision."
Kischuck places that spiritual kernel in the framework of a Noh play, where a travelling monk seeking wisdom -- a typical Noh figure -- journeys to the town of Arles and meets a mysterious sower who turns out to be the spirit of van Gogh himself.
"I'm jealous of those who are gifted with visions, just as the monk is envious that van Gogh stayed in the world and was given a spiritual experience, while he's entered a monastery and has had none."
Using Noh chant and dance, Kischuck -- who's finishing off a PhD in Japanese literature -- aims for a blend of eastern and western traditions.
"It was a shock when I discovered that Noh was the kind of theatrical experience I'd tried so hard to create. Now I understand its strength, and create work inspired by it. But van Gogh is still a Whiplash show, with its western narrative and perspective on religion."
OTHER SUMMERWORKS PREVIEWS
RICHARDTHESECOND written and performed by Matthew MacFadzean, directed by Rebecca Brown. Presented by Nation of Aslan at Artword. August 2 at 11 pm, August 5 at 8 pm, August 6 at 3:30 pm, August 9 and 11 at 6:30 pm, August 12 at 5 pm.
YAGAYAH - TWO.BLACK.WOMYN.GRIOTS written and performed by debbie young and Naila Belvett, directed by ahdri zhina mandiela. Presented by b current at Artword. August 2 at 9:30 pm, August 4 at 11 pm, August 5 and 12 at 2 pm, August 9 at 8 pm, August 11 at 12:30 pm.
S&M* by Gordon Portman, directed by Nicole Stamp, with Duff MacDonald, Sean Tyson and Alison Lawrence. Presented by Seeing the Emperor at the Factory Studio. August 2 at 10:30 pm, August 4 at 2 pm, August 5 at 8 pm, August 6 at 1 pm, August 9 at 10:30 pm, August 11 at 6 pm.
PAGAN LOVE SONGS FOR THE UNINITIATED by Sue Balint, directed by Eric J. Rose, with Darryl Hinds and Alison Jutzi. Presented by Invisible Elephant at the Factory Mainspace. August 2 at 5:30 pm, August 4 at 4 pm, August 5 at 1:30 pm, August 8 at 8:30 pm, August 9 at 11 pm, August 11 at 2:30 pm.
EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON created by the company, directed by Kate Cayley, with Amy Stewart, Janice Rieger and Simone Rosenberg. Presented by Stranger Theatre at the Factory Studio. August 2 at 9 pm, August 4 at 3:30 pm, August 5 and 10 at 6:30 pm, August 7 at 8:30 pm, August 11 at 12:30 pm.