The internationally award-winning Izumi Ashizawa collaborates with Cypriot theatre company Belacqua Theatre and directs Euripides’ Bacchae, combining the techniques of Japanese Noh theatre and ancient Greek drama.
In Bacchae, Euripides recounts the advent of Dionysus to Thebes in order to impose his worship, the bacchanalian cult. King Pentheus refuses to accept it, and Dionysus gets his revenge. He infuses frenzy to the women of Thebes and Pentheus finds a horrid death by his own mother, Agave.
The intercultural production aims to create a new performance language, juxtaposing the worlds of East and West, Male and Female, Instinct and Reason, while presenting Dionysus as an “idea”, a concept rather than dialectic, provocative and elusive. Japanese-inspired acting techniques and aesthetics are utilised in an attempt to represent Dionysus and Bacchae, as the “Other”, through the collision of the native and the newcomer, the resident and the stranger.
Elena Katsouri, Thelma Cassoulidou
Intercultural Bacchae: The first artistic collaboration of its kind in Cyprus theatre history: a synergy between Cypriot artists and a Japanese female artist.
For decades, scholars have been referring to the surprising similarities between ancient Greek drama and the Japanese Noh theatre. These two traditions, from two distant countries, mysteriously share similar aesthetics. This became our production’s incentive: to combine two different cultural codes and aesthetics and create our new performance language in the form of an intercultural production of Bacchae.
Through our Bacchae production, we stylistically juxtapose the worlds of East/West, Male/Female, Reason/Instinct. Dionysus is presented as an “idea”, a spiritual concept, elusive and provocative rather than a tangible character. Japanese-inspired techniques and aesthetics are utilised to represent Dionysus and Bacchae, “the Others”. The Western realism exemplifies the rigid and falling world of Pentheus. The juxtaposition of two completely different acting and aesthetics visualizes a clear tension between the two worlds: the resident vs. the stranger. This conflict further mirrors the recent European and American immigration crisis.
Except for the male actor who plays the role of Pentheus, all other cast members consist of female performers. Thus, we tackle old structures, including theatre, where the voice of women as “the Others”, was shrouded, silenced and excluded even from their own representation. Now, women claim it all back.
Belacqua Theatre was founded in 2017 by actress Ioanna Kordatou. Aiming to bring the actor’s body and movement to a more active and creative position within the theatrical process, it draws upon various branches of Physical and Devised Theatre.
Focusing on classical and modern texts (taken from drama and the wider spectrum of literature), it presented its first production WMWMWM, based on Samuel Beckett’s radio play Words and Music in 2017 during the “dubitanda Platform of young theatre makers” and in 2018 during “theYard.Residency.18”.
Hoping to create a continuum of theatrical education and development, through contact and exchange with international theatre artists, it has invited and worked with Izumi Ashizawa for the production of Bacchae.
Izumi Ashizawa Performance was originally founded in 2002 by Japanese director Izumi Ashizawa.
Izumi Ashizawa Performance explores the physical story-telling with unconventional puppetry and object animation and masks. Based on Japanese physical performance techniques, Ashizawa’s movement techniques are taught around the world and her devised pieces were performed internationally, including the U.S.A., Japan, the U.K., Canada, Australia, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Turkey, Iran, Peru, and Estonia.
Examples of Izumi Ashizawa’s original theatre works: The Blue Rocks, Gilgamesh, Le Morte de La Fontaine, Haoma and the Warrior, Minotaur, Dreams in the Arms of the Binding Lady, Mysterious Lake, The Little Goddess etc.
Izumi Ashizawa has won numerous awards including the Medal of Honour for Cultural Excellence from the City of Piura in Peru, the Kennedy Center American College Award Excellence in Directing and Technology, the Capital Fringe Director’s Award and the UNESCO-Aschberg Award.