I showed you my comic book about dramaturgy and comic books and how clever I think I am: but does dramaturgy mean anything to you, as an artist?
Mamoru: Hello Gareth and thanks for your great comic book. Yes, dramaturgy means a lot to me because dramaturgs are almost only collaborators I have for my performance work. I don't work with directors or designers. Instead, I work with a few dramaturgs –Nikki, Selina and Susanne– who have collaborated with me on and off for several years now.
To me, they are providing eyes of the best and worst audience members (and some in-between) you could think of to look at my projects. They are far more intelligent and knowledgeable than me. They know both history and current climates of theatre/ performance art very well, from the books as well as actually seeing many shows (and their audience). And they are all artists in their own rights but their practices are quite different from mine, which is great. So, they can see and access a project I am developing from multiple viewpoints which I value immensely.
Another key thing is that they are not immersed in the development. I cannot afford that. But there are advantages. They maintain a healthy distance from the development and avoid being heavily involved in all the usual joy and agony of developing shows. This
allows them to be able to offer direct, honest, analytical and precise observation.
Gareth: Is it worth saying that you work in quite few mediums - do you have a particular favourite?
Mamoru: Performance making and theatre design are my core practices. At the moment, I enjoy performance making more perhaps because it is relatively new compared to design work I’ve been doing for many years. Making my own shows is incredibly satisfying and rewarding as I can be responsible for every aspect of it. That said, I still learn a lot when working collaboratively with other artists with different talents when designing. I’d like to think my two practices are informing each other.
Gareth:What will you be doing at the Ian Smith festival: and for this show - where did it begin for you- was there a particular moment, or object, or idea, that inspired you?
Mamoru: I will perform a piece called ‘4D Cinema: Screen 2’ as part of Death Cabaret on Saturday. I wear a little cinema kit, a screen + a projector, around my face to turn myself a mobile cinema and telling stories about my late twin brother.
As the title may suggest, there is a sister piece (4D Cinema: Screen1) which shares some of the ideas.
As the title may also suggest, it is about 4th dimension, time, and filmed performance. As opposed to live performance. I was interested in the fact that, once something is filmed, the time becomes manipulatable. Fast-forward, slow motion etc. Also you can stay eternally young on film. So I thought putting live and filmed performance side by side might be useful to explore something interesting about time and our life. That’s how this piece started.
Gareth: Great stuff. I am delighted that you are part of the festival - I love it when stuff is in the CCA, because it is right next to my office! Do you fancy getting a free cup of tea over the weekend? Think of it as a small return for doing this interview.
Anyway, I have spoken about what Ian meant to me as a critic - I try and take his combination of high intelligence and popular humour into my work - only I lack the ability to look good in a suit. What got you into Ian's orbit, so to speak?
Mamoru: A free tea would be absolutely lovely, thank you. As for Ian, very sadly, I never had a chance to meet him. Angie Dight generously invited me to be involved in this festival after seeing my piece earlier this year. I have read a few great newspaper articles about him and I now feel really honoured and excited to join Ian’s orbit in an universe that's beyond life and death.
Gareth: Let's hear from our sponsors.
Gareth: Welcome back. Now, Mamoru. You've read my comic:do you have any particular process when you make work? Does it change from piece or piece? Are you consistent? Am I going to let you reply... sorry. Please go on...
Mamoru: I so wish I was consistent and knew how to develop shows without having miserable moments. Each project of mine had different kinds of agonising problems which is a little too agonising to remember. But I can perhaps talk about how I start? What is just as important as what’s a show is about is what I may wear. Or what kind of other visuals, video projection, set and props, may be like. As a theatre designer, I am really interested in how visuals can be deeply integrated into a show to communicate with the audience at non-verbal level. I think what I look like often tells more than what I do on stage.
Gareth: And is their any tradition, any particular influences on you? Who would you like to be compared to?
Mamoru: What I have been dreaming to achieve in my practices had been achieved so elegantly and playfully by Giacometti. I’d always liked his work but I hadn’t truly discover his achievement until I saw many of his sculptures in Zurich last year. I now feel that I must have been massively and subconsciously influenced by the Swiss sculptor since I was young.
I am also very lucky to have worked with talented theatre artists like David Fielding, Adrian Jackson and Sarah Woods. Their work influenced and encouraged me immensely.
Gareth: Well, that's been great talking to you. Before we go - you know how I don't do research and just say stuff off the top of my head? I ought to ask whether there are any questions that I ought to have asked about how dramaturgy works for you?
Mamoru: I cannot think of any other way to be questioned on dramaturgy. Thank you for having me here and hope to see you over the next weekend.