Dear INI members and supporters, greetings from an unusually fresh Kyoto! It’s Diego here. While the temperature might be lower than usual, we are looking forward to a hot summer full of events and training opportunities here at the INI headquarters. Many international students are going to join the INI summer training, and we would like to give them a chance to introduce themselves and explain why they chose to study Noh with the INI. I always enjoy learning how different paths and life experiences can lead to the study of Noh theatre. So here is our first guest, Sadia Gordon, sharing her first impression of the INI Noh training in Kyoto.
My name is Sadia Gordon. I am a 22 year old actor in training, studying Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec in Auckland, New Zealand. In our third and final year of study, we are given six weeks to go out and explore something that we are interested in, connected with the field of work we would like to go into. At Unitec, we are lucky enough to have John Davies as our Head of Department. John has been to Japan on several occasions to study Noh Theatre.
In my first year at drama school, John did a small performance of a Noh Theatre play in full costume with the wig and mask. I remember being amazed by his stillness and precision, and thinking that would be something I would find very hard to do. I had been thinking about what I wanted to explore for secondment, in terms of what my main challenges are as an actor and what would help me get to the place I want to be before graduating.
This idea of feeling completely grounded and connecting with the breath has been something that I have found hard throughout my acting training. However, I have found that when I do reach this calm, centred place, my thoughts are so much clearer on stage and I can really tune into the intentions of my character. During a meditation class, led by John, I suddenly felt completely connected to myself, without any outside noise distracting me. I realised this is the direction I need to go in. I knew that Noh Theatre would be a way for me to further develop my stage presence while also connecting with myself and my base. I thought that learning Noh in Japan would be the ultimate way to immerse myself in the culture and really get to understand the art form. I worked 12 hour shifts for 3 long months at a vegetable factory in Christchurch, New Zealand to save up and I am now seeing how worth it that was!
Japan is very different from New Zealand, but I also see some similarities which make me feel like I am at home. Kyoto is such a beautiful, fresh place. I feel very calm and safe here. I have found people to be so kind and generous and interested in what I have to say, which I think can be very rare these days. I can’t believe that I am surrounded by beautiful temples and I can go and sit in any one of them, for as long as I want to. I feel so lucky that I am able to be here, working under Udaka Michishige’s tuition, as John did years ago.
My first Okeiko was incredible. I was very nervous, but as soon as I stood up on the butai with my tabi on, I could feel my feet firmly on the ground and I felt very at ease, within the structure of my movements. I hope that in 5 weeks, when it comes time for me to go back home, I can take with me some of the beauty and simplicity of traditional life here. I am realising how important and healthy it is for us to take time out of our busy lifestyles, full of noise and technology to sit and listen.
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.