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Jennifer Muller/The Works presents its 35th Anniversary Season featuring the highly-anticipated world-premiere of Bench, a Joyce 25th anniversary commission; company favorite Momentum and a ClassicWorks revival of Tub (1973) in Program A. The engagement will also showcase The Joyce premieres of Aria (2008) and Edge (2007); and the world-premieres of Tangle and Walk It Off in Program B. At 35-Alive!, this Works show is not to be missed.

The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street), NYC

Performance Schedule Jun 9—14
Tue Gala 7pm; Wed 7:30pm; Thu-Fri 8pm; Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun 2pm & 7:30pm

Ticket Price
$49, $35, $19
Joyce Members $37; $26
Please note: prices are subject to change based on demand

Program Details
PROGRAM A: Jun 10 & 14 at 7:30pm; Jun 12 at 8pm; Jun 13 at 2pm
PROGRAM B: Jun 11 & 13 at 8pm; Jun 14 at 2pm

Company website

PR


Le Théâtre de la Huchette is a small theater with 86 seats located in the students’ quarter of Paris, Quartier latin. In 2007, at this theater, Eugène Ionesco’s “La Cantatrice chauve” (The Bald Soprano) had its 50th anniversary. Mr. Nicolas Bataille, who has kept producing this play since its first performance, talks about numerous exciting adventures he has experienced to date.

Mr. Bataille was born in Paris in 1926. When he was young, he was deeply impressed by Operetta which his grandmother took him to see. When he was 17, France was occupied by Germany during WWII. Since the students who attended national educational insitutions were exempted from forced labor in Germany, he attended Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique. In addition, he also learned performances at the acting school, run by Pathé, a movie company, and at Cours Simon, a private performing school established by the actor, René Simon. At Cours Simon, he met Juliette Gréco who later became the singer representing France, and the actor, Gérard Philipe. They often gathered in Saint-Germain des Prés to discuss films and performances. One day, he met Jacques Prévert, a poet/scriptwriter who had recommended him to appear as an extra in the movie of Marcel Carné called “Les Enfants du Paradis” (Children of Paradise) (1945) whose script Jack wrote.

‘Shooting in those days was completely different from now. The cameras and equipment were certainly different though, we have to do everything on a larger scale such as making the road for a movie shooting. Today, the sceneries and buildings appearing in “Good Old Day’s movie” were all built up completely just for movies.’

‘Besides this, Mr. Bataille has other memories of celebrities. At the age of 19, he made an unexpected visit to his idol artist, Jean Cocteau with his friend. Cocteau welcomed them pleasantly. His words, “Performance is magic!” resonated deeply inside his heart. After that, Mr. Bataille was strongly influenced by the Avant-Garde performances of Louise Lala and Édouard Autant and became interested in producing theater performances. In 1948, he produced the prose poem of Arthur Rimbaud’s “Une Saison en enfer” (A Season In Hell) and won the award of “le prix d’avant-garde au Concours des Jeunes Compagnies.”’

“Since I was orginally trying to be an actor, I had never dreamt of being recognized as a producer in the future. An accident posesses great power. I got attention from people as a producer of Avant-Garde performances.”

After that, Mr. Bataille was shocked to see “The Bald Soprano” written by Ionesco and he performed this program with his group. Looking at the title, we could guess the audience would expect a hairless chanteuse to appear, but that idea would be turned over. The script that could be perceived as word play continued like this. “An English man, Mr. Smith who sits in one of the English armchairs by an English fireside, wearing English slippers, puffing away an English pipe, and reading an English paper.” and the unmatched conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Martin went on and on. As the program symbolizes, “The Bald Soprano” had no context. This play that completely broke the theory of the theater performances of those days, had its 50th anniversary at Le Théâtre de la Huchette in 2007.

‘When I first read “The Bald Soprano”, I strongly felt that I definitely wanted to do it. I didn’t think I wanted to succeed with this play. Rather than that, I really wanted to make this play that I felt so attracted to. At first, critiques were mostly negative. But 7 years had past and other programs of Ionesco such as “Le Leçon” (The Lesson) and “Les Chaises” (The Chairs) were gradually gathering peoples’ attention, so I also started to get evaluated more.’

Ionesco, who brought “The Bald Soprano” to the world, had later become a scriptwriter representing French “The Theatre of the Absurd” with Samuel Beckett.

“The1950’s were when theater performances had their highest time in France. Also, this was the era that gave birth to the new genre of “The Theatre of the Absurd.” In those days, there were 7 theaters in Quartier latin. But now, only Le Théâtre de la Huchette remains there. The performance at Le Théâtre de la Huchette had its 50th anniversary, though the actual start of “The Bald Soprano” performance was in 1950. That performance was held at the theater we no longer have and it was in the same Quartier latin. It’ll have been 58 years by this year. I was spotlighted because I found the talent of Ionesco. But on the other side, it is true that I have had no chance of producing classic theaters such as Molière or Corneille. I got labeled by everyone as Nicolas Bataille = Ionesco.”

In 1967, Le Théâtre de la Huchette was invited to Japan on the 10th anniversary of “The Bald Soprano” and the play was performed at the national theater. At that time, it was very rare to have a small French theater group visit Japan to perform. Since then, Mr. Bataille became fascinated by Japanese theater performances and cultures, and Japan had become his second home.

‘In the1960’s, new theater performances were born in Japan. They included Karajuro’s situation theater, Tadashi Suzuki’s Waseda small theater and Shuji Terayama’s Tenjo Sajiki. They had very interesting activities going on. I was completely taken by them. Even though Huchette’s performances in Japan had ended, I continued to stay there for 4 more years and watched various theater performances. During that time, I wrote a script for the educational French language program of NHK and produced numerous plays including Antonin Artaud’s “Van Gogh le suicidé de la société” at The Institution of French-Japanese in Tokyo. Even after I went back to France in 1971, I visited Japan for 6 months a year and continued to work for production until 1983. I really had a lot of work including the production of the Takarazuka Revue Company. Last year, I visited Japan for a month to celebrate the 40th anniversary of my production work there.’

Among “Angura” (Underground) Theaters, he especially has an intense feeling toward the late Mr. Shuji Terayama who was leading “Tenjo Sajiki.”

‘Mr. Terayama was an extremely important person to me as much as Prévert and Cocteau. I’ve never been so excited as when I saw “Hanafuda Denki” in Tokyo in 1967. I also saw “Kegawa no Mary” starring Akihiro Miwa. Lured by his talent and his work, I produced “Hanafuda Denki” in Paris, wishing he would be famous in France. The audiences were very shocked. In those days, Japan was an unknown country to French people as if it was located in another planet. Apart from some intellectuals, French people had no knowledge of Japan. Even if they see this performance depicting the world of Yakuza, nobody knows Yakuza. It was the time when Kabuki and No were yet unknown and having a French person producing the program of Japanese underground theater performance was just unimaginable to the French theater world, I guess. In 1991, I produced “Terayama no Yube” which I combined the extracts from the 4 programs of Mr. Terayama. Despite 20 years passing since “Hanafuda Denki”, it seemed that the work of Mr. Terayama was still shocking to the audiences in 1991.’

During his stay in Japan, Mr. Bataille had numerous encounters except the producers of Underground Theater. One of such encounter was the late Hisao Kanze. As Hisao saw “The Bald Soprano” at Le Théâtre de la Huchette in Paris, he was very impressed and invited Mr. Bataille to the lesson of No when he visited Japan.

“Throughout 5-months-lessons, I learned the spirit of No from Mr. Kanse. Although I felt No was really fantastic, I never thought of taking its techniques directly into my production. I know there are some European producers who tried it. But I think No is too different from the European theater. It was a very rich experience for me to learn the world of No’s spirit through Mr. Kanse’s lessons.”

From co-starring with Brigitte Bardot and Marcello Mastroianni for “Vie privée” (A Very Private Affair) (1962) directed by Louis Malle, Mr. Bataille has appeared in a number of movies. However, he feels great attraction for his life as a producer.

‘I love the word,“magic’’ mentioned by Cocteau. I think the wonderful producers besides myself are Giorgio Strehler and Dario Fo. (laugh) Their production has magic and fantasy. The production of Fedor Dostoievsky’s works is fantasy itself. Play has to be magic. Curtains open up, a stage appears, and there is a different world from real life spreading out. It is essential for human beings to dream. And it is very important to have curiosity too. Lacking curiosity will narrow down various possibilities. Particularly with art, it is very important to challenge with curiosity.’

‘My future schedule is to keep producing “The Bald Soprano” and to keep performing the role of Mr. Martin on this program, sometimes. I’ll become 82 years old by this year. I’m getting older, “Kawaisou, Boku chan” (Poor me).” His last word was Japanese. Contrary to his word, Mr. Bataille smiled like a naughty kid. Tonight, the theater is full to capacity again. Dressed in costume, Mr. Bataille goes to stage to perform the role of Mr. Martin. There will be the audiences trapped by his magic again tonight.’

Nicolas Bataille, actor and theatre director, was born on March 14, 1926. He died on October 28, 2008, aged 82


Text & Photo by Chiho Yoda
Yuki Matsuzaki is an actor, who performed as "Nozaki", a junior technician, in the movie "Letters from Iwo Jima." He came to the United States to show that he is a strong actor who can perform internationally. He is working toward his dream yet he struggles with his natural positive character.



--- The opening of roller coaster American life ---

Matsuzaki showed his serious acting on a big screen. Actually he started to learn acting at 7 years old. He belonged to the acting group for children "LABO", that his mother ran for 11 years, and performed in a comedy program for children. He came to the United States to learn acting in a famous school. Although he made for Virginia, but schools rejected him because of lacking the qualification for applying to them. Even though he moved in New York next step. Something happened and his entire fortune was stolen and he was out of money. After the incident he performed on the streets in and around Times Square station and got little money for his life for a while.

“I couldn't speak English fluently because I was new to the United States. So I was dancing and singing in Japanese.”

His life in New York didn't assure him a place to sleep. He visited Pennsylvania to join the screen test of a movie, Black Ninja. Matsuzaki finely got a semi-central player by winning out of 600 people.

“I never feel nervous on any screen test and it might be thanks to the experience of a street performance dancer.”

After that Matsuzaki move to his basement in Hollywood, the capital of movies, and willingly continued to act as an actor. He performed in Community Theater and joined independent movies. His debut in a mainstream movie, Last Samurai in which Tom Cruise performed the leading role, as one of constituted authorities in 2003.


--- Performing as Nozaki junior technician in “Letters from Iwo Jima” ---

The casting of the movie Letters from Iwo Jima, directed by Clint Eastwood, was settled on a certain day suddenly.

“A part, Nozaki junior technician whom I would perform came into the director, Clint Eastwood's favor and he cast me this part just 2 weeks before filming the movie. And they just gave me the acting script 2 days before starting filming.”

Matsuzaki had to join this movie without the details of the movie and devoted himself into the making of his part. His enthusiasm in making his part was remarkable. He was so stoic that he changed his diet to perfect his character.

“To be Nozaki, I created some pictures. One is a clothing store where Nozaki worked and another picture is Nozaki's family's picture. I listed up details of his life, how he spent his life after he was born. Moreover, I wanted to experience what was to live in foodless society. So I tried to spend 5 weeks almost without eating foods. Curiously I never felt hungry after passing this trial for one week and then I was fine without eating anything after passing 2 weeks. Although I didn't eat anything, I was so fine that nobody noticed I never ate anything. Even though I actually got sometime qualm, I totally sympathized mind-set of peoples in wartime.”

He imagined an actual cave and listened to a CD that included sounds of air –raids. He sat on the floor of his bathroom, while he stayed in the hotel, to act the scene of a cave in the movie.

“I could forget the memories of imagining of cave after I visualized and experienced the mood of it. My style is not acting by remembering the actions but acting by following natural habits through experiences in past time.”

Matsuzaki's passion for acting was inscribed in the director, Clint Eastwood's memories. There is a story that Clint Eastwood suggested to continuously add Nozaki junior technician scenes. Matsuzki returns to the memories of a director, Clint Eastwood and the mood of filming this movie at the time when they filmed it.

“Actually the director, Eastwood almost didn't rehearse. His style was very unique and he completed any scene just in one take. ”

The filming seemed to follow his policy "Acting is most brilliant for the first take. I was never directed any direction by the director. We started to perform at once after a short explaining of each scene. The more pressures we felt, the more the director believed in our abilities at acting. But it was very comfortable."

Matsuzaki said, “I want to compete with native American actors on the same stage in the future.”

“If viewers who watched my acting in English couldn't figure out this actor is Japanese, it means I am doing my best (I win to myself). ”


--------------------
Yuki Matsuzaki




Interview by Yuka Kawaguchi, Photo by Yoshihiro Makino
A chorus of acclamation and nonstop applause— came at the site where surrounded by great cheers, Fred Benjamin, who was sitting on the wheelchair, appeared on the ground floor below the stage. He slowly stood up, turned his body toward the audience, and responded to the audience with a smile on his face, lifting his one hand. In fall 2003, Benjamin came down with a cerebral embolism suddenly during his visit to Japan. He was in critical condition at one point. It’s been about a year and half since then. He made a miracle comeback; his first show after the incident ended within great success. Although Benjamin spent nearly six months in hospital, he composed a full choreography for this performance using his everlasting wit. I asked Benjamin about his enthusiasm for the performance and his passion for dance.

COOL: Could you tell us about yourself?

Fred Benjamin: I am from Boston, Massachusetts, and I started dancing at a very early age. I moved to New York in 1962 to further my dance career and have been here ever since.

C: What made you interested in dance?

FB: When I was four years old my sisters took dance lessons. My mother had to bring me to them. I'm the youngest, and she had to keep an eye on me because I was a mess. So she put me in the classroom. That’s how it all started.

C: You've been in the dance industry for a long time ever since. What are the important factors for you as a dancer?

FB: Training in ballet class was very important to me. It kept me going for many, many years. And I studied ballet in NY and then did the musicals "Hello Dolly" and "Promises, Promises". They got me into my musical career, and while I was in "Hello Dolly" I started experimental (dances) with the company by own, and that was in 1968. I just kept going and going and going.

C: What is dance for you?

FB: It's hard (to explain). 'Cause it's what I can do all my life. Dance is what keeps me going and going. It's that important to me. It keeps me sane.

C: For this show, you use pretty modern songs from artists such as Destiny's Child, R.Kelly and Chaka Kahn, and also modern jazz songs. Do you choose songs by yourself, and how?

FB: Yes. I choose songs by myself. When I hear music, it starts to speak to me, on what to do dance-wise.

C: You mean lyrics speak to you, or music?

FB: Mostly music. What artists are trying to express, not just the words, but from the voice itself.

C: Where do you get your inspiration?

FB: I don't know, man. It's just there. When I hear music, I almost see a picture in my head. And then I know I want to use the particular music for something. Sometimes I listen to the music and I just see nothing. It's just for the enjoyment of music. Because listening to music is almost like work I can't make myself do. But it happens that I listen to the song and it makes me see pictures. Then I can't control that. It just goes.

C: So you visually see physical movements of bodies, rather than just a feeling or emotion?

FB: Well, I feel while I hear, (and it's like) movements, and so it's like music paints a picture for me so that I try to do that for the audience. It's like painting the picture that I saw in my mind.

C: You had a stroke almost 3 years ago in Japan, and since then you went through surgery and medical treatments. It must have been a long time for you. How did it affect you? Do you see any differences in your choreography before and after the stroke?

FB: Yes indeed. But I don't see any differences. It's continuous to me. I'm the same person. Well, I think it might be a little different. It's just that I have to do it more mentally (now). And I was mostly used to be doing stuff physically and be able to show them what I want. Now I have to do verbally. So I learned how to paint pictures with the words to show you, like, “I want to look like this”, and I had to make my own kind of vocabulary. In fact I showed them what to do (by words and drawings) but haven't just verbalized everything. I am very happy still.

C: This is your first time that you have done a performance after the stroke. How do you feel about it?

FB: I'm pretty happy. And I'm grateful that they came back to do this for me.

C: Your students here have such diversity. What do you think about those young dancers, who are trying to be successful like you, and those who want to start dancing?

FB: I think they are very, very brave 'cause it's a hard world to conquer, to make it possible. So I have a great respect for upcoming dancers. I'm not into race or anything. If I see within the dancer the love of dance, that makes me interested.

C: What is your next plan in your career?

FB: To keep doing constant work. I danced many dancing. I have done some script dancing. I've written dramatic plays. And I liked that but it's not quite as exciting or satisfying as dance.



--------------------
Fred Benjamin
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1944, Fred Benjamin began dancing at the age of four. He danced at Talley Beatty Company from 1963 to 1966. He was strongly influenced by Talley Beatty. Later on, Benjamin moved to New York City and founded The Fred Benjamin Dance Company. He established the new genre, called "Ballet Jazz," which contains Modern Ballet's elements of Tally Beatty.



text by Takuya KATSUMURA, photo by Noho KUBOTA
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