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Comments on Kawasemi-za puppets' performance
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Edinburgh debut of Kawasemi-za (Puppeteers UK)
Kawasem-za, a multi-award winning and internationally acclaimed company from Japan make their debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
'Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell' is an omnibus style performandce composed of various short tales. AII these tales are based on Japanese legend and folk myths, expressing dreams, illusions, and real world. Without words, only old folk songs, music, and voices are used on the stage. The leading parts are played by spirits and fairies living in the nature or by the nature itself.
We who live in modern society often forget about invisible experience around us. This will being everyone's heart the myths of spirits and fairies of ancient Japan.For adults and children.
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UNLIKE WESTERN MINI-STAGE FORMATS, JAPANESE PUPPETS - WORKED BY PUPETTEERS black-clad, as if invisible - can be deployed across a large performance space to create an illusion of total theatre.
Kawasem-za Theatre of Tokyo splendidly exemplify this, skilfully working their Marvellous Illusionary Marioneettes - brightly coloured and elaborately crafted puppets of legendary Japanese spirits and animals - with lively movement across minimalist sets to the accompaniment of traditional folk songs.
In seven mini-episodes, writer-puppeteers Yoshiya Yamamote and Izumi Masumura conjure a magical world of loveable flower deamons, jolly household spirits dancing with children, winged mountain gods and a fox transformed into young girl.The Snow Wolf and young Kinuyo Kogure, Arisa Senno and Hisui dance charmingly amid these fairytale puppets, in this rare treat for all ages.
Brian G Cooper mon 8 August 2005
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By Mr.Tsuyoshi IWANAMI (quote from 'Best and Worst performances in 2002' of magazine'TEATRE') 2002
I would like to choose puppets' performance,'Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell' by Kawasemi-za. This is located in the opposite of the trend of 'Technology' , 'Future Science', etc. various kind of entities such as Spirits of flowers, goblins of mountains, water spirit, small creatures, appear from pitch darkness and crawl, fly, and play; young audience attracted to this strange world and gazed them in silence. All puppets were made by hand in every detail and have supreme styles, which move as if they were really alive. Although there was no language, Japanese folk songs echoed to everyone's heart deeply. This performance implys something important that modern Japanese are losing in spirte of industrialization, modernization, high-technology, etc.
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By Isao TAKAHATA (Advisor of 'Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell'; Animation Film Director) 2001
What I really impress about Kawasemi-za is Mr.and Mrs.Yamamoto's distinguished skills and aspiration to make supreme puppets' performance. In order to make their puppets lively entities on the stage, three goalss have to be accomplished: first, design such wonderful puppets; second, put them the mechanism to move freely; third, perform promptly with them. Without depending on the story, language, nor settings, Kawasemi-za conveys the feelings of invisible spirits only by using puppets' movement. As an advisor, I requested three points: real human children shall appear, Japanese folk songs shall be sung, puppets of small creatures shall play on the stage. We considered every detail, refined, and improved this performance. I admire Mr. & Mrs. Yamamoto's real power to create these things and wish all audience just watch the puppets on the stage forgetting they are moved by puppeteers. I am sure invisible spirits and fairies dwell in your heart.
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quoted from Morocco's newspaper, "Liberation" on October 6, 2002
Rabat: 'Silent Poems' Japanese puppets attracted children and adults (by Amina Salhi)
Skills and technique of expression: Two puppeteers of Kawasemi-za have both abilities. With Eastern traditional music, they showed unusual movement of puppets and fascinated all Morocco audience. Kawasemi-za expanded new horizen of puppets's performance based on traditonal Eastern techniques. They succeeded to impress the audience by puppets of children and animals which are simple but move as if they were real. As this title, žeSilent Poems' implys, there were no languages to be used, which enable the audience imagine freely.
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Interview of Mr. & Mrs.Yamamoto žeOriginal puppets' works of plentiful of ideas and technical skills'
Puppet creater, puppeteers, and puppets: three echo in harmony and create illusionary world

<Mr.Yamamoto>
I was first impressed at real puppets' expression when I saw 'Satomi Hakkenden' (one of Japanese traditional popular stories) by Juzaburo Tsujimura. It was marverous performace to fascinate adults. After graduating from high school, I joined Japanese traditional puppets' company, 'Takeda Nyngyo-za'. I learned how to make and move puppets there. I was absorbed in puppets' infinite expression which human actors cannot do on the stage.
<Interviewer>
Why did you become independent and establish 'Kawasemi-za'?
<Mr.Yamamoto> I wanted to make my own puppets and perform with them by myself. In pursuit of my own idea about puppets' creation, I needed to establish my own company.
< Ms.Masumura (Mrs.Yamamoto)>
I knew Kawasemi-za before I met Mr.Yamamoto. Since my mother made dolls and puppets, puppets have been very close to me. I had never dreamed of myself performing with puppets in Kawasemi-za, though.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
There are several ways to handle puppets such as using rods, hands, hanging with threads, etc. I have been designing original puppets which can move very uniquely by special mechanisms. I can do this because of my own company, Kawasemi-za.
<Ms.Masumura>
In 1993, we met at Performing Arts Festival in Japan. It was not so long before we got married since then.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
Basically Kawasemi-za's performance is conducted by two of us. In some shows outside artists support us though. After we got married, she helped me a lot.
<Ms.Masumura>
Although only two of us play with puppets on the stage, there are a lot of staff to supprt our performance. It usually takes 5-6 hours, 6-7 hours in 'Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell' to set up the stage.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
When I was single, I performed with other musicians, dancers, pantmaimers, etc.aiming very artistic expression. After our marriage, I became able to make popular performance which everyone loves.
<Ms.Masumura>
It is true that puppets for performace are regarded low compared with creative dolls, from artistic point of view. We want to change that view. We would like to make high quality puppets and their movements.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
The chance to perform overseas has been increasing these days. Although I prefer to be alone and work by myself, my wife is outgoing and manage everything with other staff. She helps me a lot.
<Ms.Masumura>
It is good for us to have different types of character each other. Mr.Yamamoto usually adjusts puppets and I usually stretch my body on the stage until the performance starts. We take our own responsiblities in different ways.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
Kawasemi-za's performances are all original works including all puppets, stories, and stage arts. We are proud of it. žeWhere Spirits and Fairies Dwell' is our latest challenge. We created this original stories which call for Japanese sentiment from old days, based on the advice from a famous animation film director, Mr.Takahata.
<Ms.Masumura>
This was born when I seeked what shall we express in order to make the world know Japan. The theme is the old days when people lived with harmony with nature in Japan. We want to warn the destruction of nature.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
We performed 'Zansho (afterglow)' inviting outside company's producer in 2002. It was totally different style performance. There were the pros and cons regarding this. I would like to create various kinds of atmosphere using our puppets in many situations.
<Interviewer>
What is your hope in future?
<Mr.Yamamoto>
I would like to make several puppets' performances without using any words: a pure fantasy for adults audience using very fine puppets like glass craftmanship. Another totally different type of performance based on Sarome. I have these images but cannot say when they appear on the stage. We are now seeking proper producers for these.
<Ms.Masumura>
We don't know when these performance shall be completed. We let these ideas simmer in our minds, keep practicing, seeing other arts, and try to create new one.
<Mr.Yamamoto>
Performing with puppets shall be expressed like 'Noh' (Japanese traditional perfroming art). We have to improve our expression so that the audience feel the subtle nuance. Please look forward to seeing our future performance.