Being a part of the Kyōgen production has been a great experience for me so far. I play the part of “Eliana,” aka the “Tarō Kaja,” in the play Mask Confusion . I was excited to play that role because of how unique that specific play was made to be. In the play, we have two different types of characters from two different cultures. Tarō Kaja, the typical Japanese kyōgen character and Arlechinno, the typical Italian commedia character. I personally think it was a brilliant idea, to blend the two characters into one play. This makes it more entertaining and yet informative to the audience.
The process of learning about my character’s personality and movements has been quite a journey. Initially when I first learned the kyōgen techniques I was struggling a lot. It took awhile for me to learn how to use my core throughout each movement. It was during that time that I realized I had zero core strength and balance. After a lot of practice and rehearsals, I got the hang of it. One of the other challenges I encountered throughout this process was learning to exaggerate my kata forms. For those who don’t know, when performing a kata in kyōgen, the movements are usually done bigger than usual. I’m currently learning how to express my emotions through my voice and the kata forms. I had it instilled in my mind that kyōgen must be performed in a very strict manner, so I was always very stiff with all the movements and tones. I am currently working on letting that mindset go and change it up so that my inner “Eliana” can come out naturally. The more natural I look, the more people will understand how Eliana’s character connects to that of Tarō Kaja and the kyōgen styles. Also, it will help the audience differentiate her character and that of her fellow friend, Arlecchino.
Overall, despite the challenges I have experienced, I love being a part of this production. It is because of those challenges, that I am able to gain more knowledge of kyōgen and Japanese theatre. I am excited to continue to learn more and perfect my techniques!
– Chrisslene Jimerson, Mask Confusion