Copyright :: All Rights Reserved. Registered :: 2012-09-17

This work pulls together so many divergent creative activities that elements of it will be found in other categories of this website. USHER started as an experiment, and attempt to make concrete, an academic study (a Masters thesis completed in 2002) entitled 'BUTOH: A CORPSE DESPERATELY STANDING: The Literary Influences on Hijikata Tatsumi's Ankoku Buto'. Extensive research went into this 25,000 plus words and very rare material was gathered from a variety of disparate and little known sources. It is this academic study that forms the bedrock upon which the USHER perfomance flourished, and each element and detail was very carefully considered and weighed within its context. The intent was to capture and synthesise the quintessence of Hijikata Tatsumi's phenomenal contribution to the world of dance/theatre.

As work on the USHER project grew and developed it began to encompass many long held pre-occupations and activities of mine in other artistic genres, simply because this felt so right based on the information I was amassing on Hijikata's life and work. My own work in the visual arts and those in theatre/dance merged and melded into one. The blurring of distinctions, of course, is a fundamental component of the Butoh ethos. Running tandem to my work on USHER was my academic engagement with 'Gender Studies' , a subject that harmonised well, given that Butoh is an artform which deliberately subverts gender. The mechanics and conflicts of gender-identification, thus finds its expression themetically within the work.

USHER is, first and foremost, entirely my own work, both in its authorship and creation. I was a one-person production team. Although, I learnt new skills in the process, there were, however, a couple of essential ingredients I was unable to do on a technical level and for these I had friends to hand who were willing to work under my directive. The first of these was the very talented musician, Lorenz Penkler, who aided with the soundscore and whose enthusiasm, pleasantness and eagerness to please will not be forgotten. The second was the ever patient, Mark Thomas, an accomplished digital artist, who created the animations for the video.

Another musician friend, Anna-Varney (Sopor Aeternus) , though having no involvment in any way with the project itself, generously gave consent for the use of pre-recorded extracts from the album 'The Inexperienced Spiral Traveller', extracts which were incorporated in the soundscore created by Lorenz and myself. Additional (s)he, and, also, posed for photographs during a stay at my home, some of which were used in the USHER video (and later some of them in his/her own productions).

Something concerning my USHER project was printed in a magazine (the German 'Orkus' I believe) containing a Sopor Aeternus interview which gave rise to misconceptions and rumours amongst his/her fans that USHER was a side-project of Sopor Aeternus, or that it was a joint project, directly leading to a few of them seeking me out and requesting information and material, particularly in relation to the video (not because of interest in the work, but out of a hunger for anything which may be related to their idol). The video cannot be made publically available, even if I did wish to make some cash out of it in this way. It is only available for viewing via academic proceedure, it being firmly lodged within the vaults of a University Research Faculty. It contains clips from an Australian documentary 'Butoh: Piercing the Mask' by Ronin Films which is under heavy copyright, permissions being granted to me for purposes of my Masters only. To release it in the public domain would require a considerable sum being paid to Ronin Films for the rights to do so and this is something I am not prepared to do.

Below is an introduction to the USHER project and some of the ideation behind it. It is as multi-layered in meaning and conceptions as it is in terms of the media of its design, but, hopefully, this will provide further elucidation and make for a clearer understanding.

USHER: THE SEWING TOGETHER OF SKINS

Designed both as a multi-media performance, and an exhibition of art works, USHER is, essentially, an elaborate experiment in the creative appropriation of a literary masterpiece and the transposition of the disciplines of plastic arts, media graphics, film, stage design, costuming, music and physical theatre under the auspices of the Butoh genre. In the manner of Hijikata, USHER, and all of its separate components, have been allowed to come into being by following the process of words begetting mind image from which form is allowed generation, and backwards from form to image to word. Whether video image, music, painting, sculpture or choreographic move, this has been the mode of working - this, and staying close enough to 'hear the voices of the dead'. The inspiration from which it germinates is Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting and macabre tale The Fall of the House of Usher and the container in which all the disparate elements ferment and stirred by the influence of Butoh founder Hijikata Tatsumi. What is laboured over and birthed I call my own and name it: USHER.

This brief outlining is by no means fully comprehensive or even detailed, and many, many other thoughts and considerations, too numerable to mention, go along with the formulations of this project. In order to give some form of contextualisation and indication of the processes inherent in its creation, however, some of the main principle elements are here summarised.

Although Poe was not a contemporary of Hijikata, creatively more cerebral than physical, of Western rather than Oriental descent, and seemingly very different in temperament, the choice of re-working one of his short stories in fusion with Hijikata’s innovations in dance/theatre is neither wholly arbitrary nor solely the result of personal idiosyncratic predilection. Poe was embraced both by the Decadent and the Surrealist writers, painters and poets who, in their turn, were embraced by Hijikata, and a great debt, by many, is owed to his work. Indeed, the cornerstones of Surrealism (Reverdy’s “bringing together of distant realities”, Lautremont’s “meeting of an umbrella and a sewing machine” and Takiguchi’s harmony of “copper and a white rose”) all find precedent in Poe. His short treatise, entitled On Imagination, was embryonic:

The pure Imagination chooses, from either Beauty or Deformity; only the most combinable things hitherto uncombined; the compound, as a general rule, partaking, in character, of beauty, or sublimity, in the ratio of the respective beauty or sublimity of things combined – which are themselves still to be considered as atomic – that is to say, as previous combinations. But, as often analogously happens in physical chemistry, so not unfrequently does it occur in this chemistry of the intellect, that the admixture of two elements results in a something that has nothing of the qualities of one of them, or even nothing of the qualities of either… Thus, the range of the Imagination is unlimited. Its materials extend throughout the universe. Even out of deformities it fabricates that Beauty which is at once its sole object and its inevitable test. But, in general, the richness or force of matters combined; the facility of discovering combinable novelties worth combining; and especially the absolute ‘chemical combination’ of the completed mass – are the particulars to be regarded in our estimate of Imagination.
 (Poe, A. E. ed. Galloway D., 1986)

Poe’s thoughts find correspondence in the works of the Decadent painters and poets, and are echoed and reverberated in the substratum of Surrealism in its seemingly choosing (and from the view of 'dream fabrics' this may only be seemingly) of the most nonconsensual uncombinable “things hitherto uncombined”. Moreover, with the Decadents, Surrealists and their heirs, Poe’s preoccupations are given continuance.

Upon analysis, Hijikata’s work, more so than any of many of his contemporaneous associates, may be seen as having a direct correlation to Poe. The multiplicity of “hitherto uncombined” elements of sublimity and beauty, along with the potency of shared obsessions, and the expression of these in their respective arts, forges a linkage strong enough to overshadow differences. The sublime and the beautiful, death, resurrection, insanity, ecstasy, eroticism and violence, scrawled on paper or danced upon the boards, unite Poe and Hijikata.

The Fall of the House of Usher (1) was selected by virtue of it being an exemplary example of manifestation of all of these obsessions in one short, mysterious, psychological tale of horror, and in that it evidences an uncanny foreshadowing, by over a century (2), of the postmodern view of the self as fragmented, yet connected to, and part of a wider whole, a world-at-large (3). The main protagonist, Roderick Usher and his twin sister Madeline, the House and its landscape, the doctor and the friend etc. etc. may be seen to be fundamentally one and the same, yet fragmented, the irreconcilability of these fragments leading to eventual destruction, despite a memory of unity.

USHER, therefore, also deals with the same set of pre-occupations, obsessions, as those nurtured by Poe and Hijikata: with the instinctual, existential and experiential ground of being lying beneath the social, rational arena.

Both these artists were, in their day, descried as debauched, Hijikata, in particular, sourcing a scandalous shock wave. Yet, in the 21st century, it is hardly likely that USHER will illicit any outcry, moral indignation, or even ruffle anyone’s sense of propriety. In the contemporary world of literature, art, film, music, theatre and performance, pre-occupations such as these are commonplace. Furthermore, the postmodernist artist is freer to create works without the domination of cultural mores or niceties, and without expectation of an outcry should these be digressed, however overtly explicit and/or visceral. This being so, USHER does not hanker after shock value but rather embraces the abject in a more subtle manner, more in line with Poe and Hijikata, than the many performances currently in vogue. Blood is spilt upon the stage, but it is not bodily fluid, and under the glow of lighting the darkness is pitch black, if the spectator is brave enough to perceive it and tread the inward spiral downward. For, although the principle performer repeatedly rises and falls, both physically and metaphorically, the crucial accentuation is upon descension and dismemberment.

The descent is one into a more primary mode of existence, dangerous, instinctual and sensuous, an underworld of dreams and the abyss of madness. Divisions collide and meld in hallucinogenic, surrealistic vision, imbued with sentience, disrupting logic and rationale in an assault upon both senses and consciousness. No indication of meaning or moral is offered, no philosophy expounded, merely a suggestion that the work may contain such. It is political in that it raises issues of social-cultural conditioning, individualism and gender identity, yet it remains free of dogmatism and peddles no political stance. Certainly, it is not a straightforward translation of a short story into a theatrical performance, indeed, to many, the story will barely discernible. On the surface it may seem that Poe’s story has been virtually disregarded, but this is not the case. It has broken down, not to destroy it as a work, but to dislocate its fabric in order to select and relocate fragments in a new work that is considered as an appraisal of the original and as homage to the genius of its writer.

The tradition of transposing literary works to the stage, be it in the genres of opera, ballet or drama, invariably take the form of a close adherence to narrative. USHER dispenses with this convention. Under the influence of Hijikata, key elements are selected from the story, and, in like fashion with his own practice, it has been plundered for “image gifts”, these then to be distilled with additional ingredients. The performer is not an actor in the usual sense, not caught in character role, but is rather a body and this body is the sight of deconstruction - nothing more than a physical vessel to be emptied, to be made “a corpse” through which something greater flows. By virtue of this abnegation, and by the ambiguity inherent in presentation, identification with the performer or the performer’s role is denied. Additionally, there is no climax in the usual sense and, veering away from linearity, the patterning is one that subtly doubles back in eternal looping. Past, present and future merge. The memories of the “dim remembered story” related by Poe’s protagonist, Roderick Usher, in the ballad, The Haunted Palace ,are interwoven into a timeless now, compelling decay and death to join birth and life in the formation of cyclical motions. The final image is an echo of the first, a call for 'begin again',. Time is that of “the metempsychosic mode”. The process, as it appears in USHER, is of undulating chaotic growth, sporadically interrupted, with no real or tangible beginning, middle, or end.

Intrinsically related to this metempsychosic mode is the play of metamorphosis, another vital component of Butoh, wherein the performer transforms from one thing into another with no logical measure of cause and effect. This anti-individualistic fragmentation, suggestive of an interconnectedness, both actual and imaginary, is incorporated into the choreography of USHER, wherein the performer ‘becomes’ animate being, inanimate object, male, female, child, animal etc. There is, at root, an antagonistic interplay of differentiation and non-differentiation.

Hijikata’s work, as previously indicated, also places accent upon fragmentation, displacing the modernist’s view of the individual self as indivisible, and like Poe, emphasises its linkage and interconnectedness to the wider sphere. Both stress fragmentations and bifurcations, whilst hinting at a kind of universal amalgamation, an interlaced sentient world where the individual ego is demolished, which may be considered mystical, pantheistic or shamanistic, as a regression to an infantile psychological state of omnipresence, or simply insanity. Final fabrications, however, are left to the reader. Meanings, or multiple meanings, are hinted at in Poe’s works, but are never overtly given. In like fashion, Hijikata threw open the interpretations of his pieces to the spectator, inviting inventory participation (as do the many other Butoh performers who have inherited his legacy). In a similar vein, USHER is a courting of the imaginal, an invitation for spontaneous analogous formulations, and as such, it will inevitably mirror something of the spectator. The spectator, then, is also an active participant, part of, and integral to the rite as it is being performed.

The fact that Hijikata found stimulus from a whole plethora of arts outside of the confines of dance and allowed these to shape his dance, and Roderick Usher is represented as nurturing a wide range of artistic interests, gave the impetus to create USHER as a multi-faceted work in which a variety of different art forms combine in defiance of the staid strictures of compartmentalisation. A hybridisation and an intimate juxtapositioning of the arts takes place in USHER. Each of these separate facets has been specifically created for the performance, and has been inspired and informed by the Butoh genre, all coalescing on stage with choreographic stylistics derived from Butoh, re-translations of the rudiments of Poe’s tale and, in like vein to Hijikata, more personal memories from my own childhood (discarded dolls) assume archetypal significance. Every element upon the stage is also a distinct work of art rather than a stage property in the sense of artificial contrivance.

The arrangement is kaleidoscopic, in certain instances appearing to form harmonic patternings, at others a seeming cacophony of chaotic fragmentation. Music, video and stage action are not deliberately synchronised save at particular isolated points. Often they run counter to each other, with timing out-of-tune and out-of-step, creating a disturbing deformation that emphasises the grotesque beauty of much of the imagery.

The more visual aspects of USHER, the paintings, sculptures, video, animations, set, costuming and lighting, as well as the musical sound score, are not so much closely patterned in conformation with what has been done to date in Butoh, but takes Butoh into a new direction. Although Butoh has inspired theatre practitioners to employ, in part, its aesthetics, and compelled a number of photographers and filmmakers to document it, extremely little work has been executed in the realms of the plastic arts, creative video or music proper, that could be described as having been directly stimulated by Butoh. USHER, therefore, steps into unchartered territory.

Rather than pick up on the forms of plastic art that informed Hijikata, the impetus and inspiration, in this instance, here they come both from Poe’s tale and, unequivocally, from Butoh itself. Certain keys thread together music, video, animations, staging, lighting, costuming, sculptures and paintings. These keys, having been highlighted in the chapters of BUTOH: A CORPSE DESPERATELY STANDING (Influences of Literature upon Hijikata Tatsumi’s Ankoku Butoh), are re-iterated and added to here, form the bedrock of Butoh and consequently of USHER. There is an accent upon the body as an object, on metamorphosis, fragmentation, the subconscious, gender subversion, theatricality and composites of a paradoxical nature. There is a nightmarish quality infused with a whimsicality, a sweetly slick and polish tinged with decay and raw crudity. There is an inversion, a descension. There is much more that words can convey.

Although each of these components is an individual artwork/art object in itself, there is a sense in which they are not complete in themselves due to the very fact that they were created, not only as an experiment with Butoh inspired form, but because they were also specifically made for the USHER performance. As such, they only begin to approach a semblance of completion when they come together in the auditorium, with each other, with the performer and with the spectator. Not only do questions arise here as to what distinguishes artwork from theatre prop, but also as to the nature of process and product. Could a series of products, not all temporal, created towards a specific goal be constituted as process? If so, then the postmodernists favouring of process over the modernists product would seem purely arbitrary in this case.

The USHER performance text is an abbreviated blue print designed to give a structural basis and provide a format for the ensuing creation of other elements, and much that constitutes the whole could not be included within its margins. The text is neither self-contained or fixed, but more a contingent pre-performance text, perhaps even destined to fade and dissolve as the work is furthered (4).

Two versions of the text were created: the first intended for four performers and the second for a solitary performer (5). Although on paper there is little difference between the two texts, the consequent experience of performance, for both spectator and performer, would inevitably be quite dissimilar. More subtly, in the first version, the players interact with each other, but in the second the solo performer interacts only with art objects. All of the protagonists whether players or art objects, are merely fragments of one being, and the same applies to the on-stage video/animation projection, music and space: all are intrinsically linked.

On the first page of the performance text(s) is a slightly amended version of The Haunted Palace, the strange ballad played and sung by Roderick in Poe’s story. Three of its verses have been very slightly amended for USHER. These verses are given here in their original form with amendments (bold in brackets) after the words that have been changed. Here is an extract:

Wanderers in that happy valley
  Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
  To a well tuned law;
Round about a throne, where sitting
  (Porphyrogene!) [Androgynene]
  The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
  Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
  And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
  Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
  The wit and wisdom of their King [The wisdom of their Queen and King].

But evil things in robes of sorrow,
  Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
  Shall dawn upon him [them] desolate!)
And, round about his [this] home, the glory
  That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

The quintessential change is, quite obviously, Pororphyrogene for Androgynene, and the subsequent references to Queen and King/them in place of the singular King/him. This is a further anti- individualistic measure undermining gender identification. Such an undermining is one that is extensively utilised in Butoh, dancers often presenting themselves either as combinational male/female or void of gender altogether (6). This cross-gendering/gender denial is also, as previously indicated, a subversive rite of reversal in which an upturning of the accepted order is established. By making this amendment, the utopian vision at the beginning of the rhapsody is transformed to one of the reverse utopianism innate in Butoh aesthetics, and the crisis of USHER, likewise, rests upon the “dim-remembered story” ever present and upon the artifices with which it is overlain. The nostalgia inherent in the ballad, is, therefore, as a consequence, brought more sharply into line with the nostalgia evidenced in Butoh: nostalgia for a beyond culture, actual and now. Furthermore, the androgynene is both an ancient archetypal symbol for sexual union and erasure of individuality, a symbol par excellence of Sex and Death - a freedom from the 'discontinuity of being', to coin Bataille's phrase.

USHER is sectioned into six Sequences and a Prologue, between which is inserted a beshimi kata (7) given by the performer and the flow of the video is interrupted by a piece of animation. The interaction between video animation and performer here introduces a meta-theatrical device into the performance. The clacking of bones by the animated 'director' parodying the clapper board of an physical one. An actual ‘freeze’, or ‘mie’ as it is termed in the tradition of Kabuki, does not appear in Butoh due to the import lain upon constant motion and flux. The beshimi kata, however, is a sort of equivalent and it may best be described as a grimace, or a convulsion, in which the features are contorted out of recognition in an attempt at dismantling the equation of face = individuality = identity.

Although the Sequences do fall into a natural cyclic order: pre-natal, birth, childhood, adolescence, youth, maturity and old age/ death, it is conceivable that they could also run backward with no detriment to the essence of the work, or even run forward and back in eternal looping. Each of these Sequences, are entitled with words or phrases lifted from Poe’s text, and as made visible through the animations, video and, in part, the lighting, they are vaguely colour coded by white and by rainbow hues (with blue and indigo in combination). The rainbow arch, here, is an allusion to the cyclic - that is, doubled, echoed or shadowed by another arch within the earth and therefore without end denying the hope of a pot of gold: a serpent swallowing its own tale.

The white Sequence Zero entitled Shroud, and following immediately after The Prologue, was stimulated by the description of a small painting in Poe’s story: a painting of an interior illuminated by a mysterious light.

A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the surface of the earth. No outlet was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and no torch, or other artificial source of light was discernible; yet a flood of intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inappropriate splendour. (ibid.)

In USHER this has been interpreted both as the entrance to a burial chamber and as a birth canal and use is made of the auditorium itself, curtains, lighting and the rhythmic sound of breath and heartbeat to give hint of this.

The birth of Sequence One, “ the hideous dropping off of a veil”, is coloured purple and evokes the “ pestilent and mystic vapour”, the “faintly luminous and distinctly visible gaseous exhalation” that is described as hanging around the House. The title given to this Sequence is From the Donjon-keep (tomb/womb). Mirror of Sweet Echoes, a labelling that plays between the inverted image of the House seen in the tarn and the “sweet echoes” mentioned in The Haunted Palace, is designated green. It is the Sequence of childhood and draws from the tale’s suggestion that once the land around the House of Usher was fertile. Sequence Three, Mournful Burden, a phrase used in the story in reference to the body of Madeline, is blue and cold. It indicates a skin forged by the machinations of society and as ill-fitting as Roderick Usher's. The fourth Sequence entitled Vicintiy of the Storm, referencing the “breath of the rising tempest”, the storm in the tale, is blood red. Eroticism and death tear apart and unite the skins. The title of the fifth Sequence is taken from the quotation before the opening of the story: Son Coeur est un luth suspendus; Sitot qu on le il reone accredited to De Beranger, which translates: 'His heart was a suspended lute; pluck it and it will resound'. This Sequence, a dream, is warm orange and is a ludicrous wedding governed by societal norms - a pastiche. On another level it is the Sacred Alchemical Marriage, the Self and anima/animus uniting. The final Sequence, Winged Odour ‘neath a Lurid Tarn, a compound of elements taken from The Haunted Palace rhapsody “radiant palace” and “banners yellow, glorious, golden” and the last words of the tale “and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the ‘House of Usher’” and is golden followed by black An exquisite memory flows through the principal performer before returning to ‘the donjon-keep/womb/tomb’. The spectator also returns, plunged into darkness with only the sound of a heartbeat, to the point at which the show started.

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USHER, though it deconstructs and fractures, is, at the same time, both a seeming evocation of a primitive, pre-symbolic, pre-‘Babel’ world, an illusionary conjuring of a world where the divisions between words and things has not yet come to be, and, also, an actual one. The shadow it casts is generated from the space between mind and material, word and thing, dancer, object and participatory receiver/spectator.

There is no audible dialogue, or spoken text in USHER, yet, words are there in the performance. They are the precursors of images, written upon the performers body, incorporated in the pre-recorded sound score, form the bedrock from which the work has developed and have, to a great degree, also guided its course (8). The beginning point of the project was Poe’s tale leading to the creation of a performance text that was informed by the words of both Hijikata and Poe, that is, instructed by the dead in a literal sense (and also by my own 'dead brother' [reservoirs of memory]). The elements of video, painting, sculpture, film, music and dance cannot erase these words. The lingual and the pre-lingual co-exist, create a tension, split apart and, paradoxically, reunite.

As with many Butoh performances, the opening of USHER is deliberately slow of pace. This exaggeration of duration and tension is designed to heighten awareness and put the spectator into a felicitous and receptive state (9)

As stated, all movement in USHER is choreographed. The choreography is essentially based in Butoh aesthetic and dance technique, derived from Hijikata's Butoh fu, from my own created Butoh fu and is spawned from practical instruction given directly to me by some of the most well respected Butoh performers in the world. Amongst these have been Amagatsu Ushio (the founder and leader of Sankai Juku) and Murobushi Ko, both of whom were trained by Hijikata and were one-time members of Dai Ruda kuda Khan, and Endo Tadashi, who has collaborated for many years with Kazuo Ohno.

USHER is the antithesis of, and runs counter to, the criteria and rules for the 'well-made play’. As a piece of multi-media theatre it seeks to elevate, excite and affect by assaulting the senses with auditory and visual stimulus, by its choreographic physicality, the nature of its subject matter, by the interaction of its multifarious components, and by its discords and harmonies. The ideal would be the infection of the spectator with Roderick Usher’s “morbid acuteness of the senses” and to initiate what Poe termed a “terror of the soul”. But, not in an attempt at delineation of this “soul”, nor to make intimations of things “eternal”, or even to provoke cathartic illumination, but to eject spectator and performer alike into the ever-present now of “a corpse desperately standing”.

In that Usher is experimental, I am reticent about stating that it is a wholly complete work of art, considering it to be more a stage of a journey rather than a conclusive outcome or final arrival. Nevertheless, it is hoped it will, indeed, impinge upon the psyches and sensory perceptions of others, although it is acknowledged that such an impingement relies as much upon the individual recipitent/spectator as it does upon the creator/director or performer. That USHER deliberately provides space for this to occur does not necessarily mean that it will, just as a reading of Poe’s tale does not guarantee every reader will experience a tremor.

NOTES:

1. Other artists have been inspired to create works from this particular tale. Debussy cherished the idea of basing an opera on it, but died before its completion. Jean Epstien was the first to make a cinematic version in 1928, followed by Ivan Barnett in 1950, Roger Corman in 1960 and Harry Allen Powers in 1990 (the latter two being crass in the extreme). Stephen Berkoff created an adaptation of it for the stage in 1974 and Peter Hammill finally released a recording of an operatic version in 1999, having begun work on it as early as 1973.

2. The story was first published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, 1838, and later the same year in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.

3. Frederick Jameson in a paper on postmodernism states that a “shift in the dynamics of cultural pathology can be characterised as one in which the alienation of the subject is displaced by the fragmentation of the subject”. As a consequence the signifying chain breaks down and a temporal unification of past and future, inner and outer. (Jameson, F., 1984).

4. Nonetheless, the original paper text may be considered as a work of art in its own right for it has been formatted to design and adorned with original photographs, Photoshop artwork and stills from the Usher video.

5. Both versions are contained within the Appendices of the full work of which this is but an extract.

6. I once asked Amagatsu Ushio, leader of the Butoh dance troupe Sankai Juku, about his use of white make-up. He explained that it was to render the dancer “neutral” in order “that the dancer may become either male or female or thing”, that is, to undergo a metamorphosis or flow into any form, to aid in the becoming of Hijikata's "corpse", "empty vessel". (Interview with author 23 Jan.1999).

7. The term 'beshimi' was used in Kabuki and referenced a specific mask with a painted stylised grimace.

8. The whisperings, incorporated in USHER: The Music, are readings of the USHER Performance Text and Poe’s Haunted Palace: the articulation of words having been deliberately pushed back to inaudibility.

9. This, however, is not a technique peculiar to Butoh: it appears throughout the tradition of Japanese theatre and is particularly evidenced in Noh drama as jo-ha-kyu, a form of structural pacing and rhythm. These prolonged openings in Butoh may be corresponded with the jo part of this structure, but in Butoh often there is an exaggeration of this duration and tension.

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