In October 2009, Yoshie Sunahata set off alone to England where she appeared in Akram Khan's international sensation Gnosis. After three successful inaugural shows in the UK in 2009, we are pleased to announce that Gnosis will be touring internationally in February and April through July 2010.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Al Bustan Hotel, Muscat, Oman
Muhsin Ertuğrul Stage, Istanbul, Turkey
Sadler's Wells, London, UK
Danses Hus, Copenhagen, Denmark
Town Hall, Birmingham, UK
Théâtre des Abbesses, Paris, France
Novel Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Sherover Hall, Jerusalem Theatre, Tel Aviv, Israel
Teatro Liceo, Salamanca, Spain
Villa Adriana, (outdoor) Rome, Italy
Théâtre de l'Agora, (outdoor) Montpelier, France
Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This month-long trip was my first time alone abroad. I set off for London nervous, a bit anxious, and full of expectations.
On the initial day of rehearsals, I came face to face with the musicians for the first time and we heard Akram talk about the structure of the show. It was far more concrete than what he had described when he was on Sado earlier this year, and the story had been greatly developed. He described the traditional Kathak Dance, which I was to accompany with Japanese taiko drums. In the second act, he spoke of a scene from the Indian myth Mahabharata in which there would be dance, music and puppets telling the tale. I was to be a puppeteer.
The Mahabharata speaks of a deep sense of morality and what that teaches us, even as humans make the same mistakes time and again. I felt this particular piece would be one where the audience could feel the transience of human existence.
The rehearsals for the first half of the show were very different than what I am used to with Kodo. The sound of the taiko is loud, so if I played my drums as I usually do, the other musicians couldn’t hear their own sound. I had to stare at their hands and hold back on my own sound when we rehearsed. For the second act, I had a tough time trying to get the puppet to express emotion as if it were alive. Every day we would create and change, create and change the content, over and over again.
Even live on stage, there was a lot of trial and error in an attempt to improve things. For each of Akram’s orders, we musicians would adjust and interact accordingly. I was constantly encouraged by my fellow musicians’ sharp sense of intuition, their characters, and the music they played.
And I was moved by Akram’s extraordinary physical expression. At the end of the performance, there was a scene where he danced while I sang, and it was like each move he made triggered the next note that came out of my mouth. For me it was a truly thrilling performance and experience as a whole. The sense of unity I felt at the end of it all felt like home.
The journey continues next year. I will keep giving it my all.