Currently Reading and Listening to…

Too many things at once! I used to make it a rule to only read one book at a time but with my current lifestyle I’m finding that that is just not working anymore.

Reading at Work when I need some quiet and can escape to the women’s tatami room:
Acting (Re)Considered: A theoretical and practical guide, Edited by Phillip B. Zarilli

This is one of my textbooks for my MA program starting this fall. During my interview with David Williams, the Dean of the Theatre Program, he said that my academic essay had good ideas in it but that the language I was using was not based in current theory. True enough. I explained to him that I’ve been out of university for 10 years but that I wrote a lot and was very willing to work on that weakness. He gave me a list of books to read before I got there to refamiliarize myself with technical and theoretical writing.

I have just read the introduction and so far it’s fascinating! The other day I finished reading another textbook: A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology by Eugenio Barba and Nicola Savarese which talks about the similarities and differences between Occidental and Oriental theatre. Acting (Re)Considered talks about how Oriental practices can be integrated into Occidental theatre. The author teaches a Marital Arts Theatre course at Exeter Univeristy – not far from Dartington!

What really excites me about these textbooks, aside from the fact that they are giving me all sorts of ideas, is that the theories and the aesthetics of the authors are so similar to what I’ve been envisioning creating in my own theatre practice. While we’ve been here I’ve been trying to see a lot of live theatre – traditional Japanese theatre such as Kabuki and Nohgaku (or Noh) as well as pieces by modern directors such as Tadashi Suzuki and Terayama. (If you want to know more about these things, ask me in the comments and I’ll blog them!)

All this theatre watching has given me a lot of ideas as far as the “dilated body” goes – creating the body of the actor so that it is larger-than-life through costumes, voice, and movement. The project that I’m planning to work on at Dartington combines Western Anatomy with Yogic anatomy and philosophy. (again – ask me more about this if you want to know!)

Acting (Re)Considered is a bunch of essays by different authors. It’s likely that as I read through them I’ll write more about what I’ve read!

Reading at night before I go to sleep:
“Walden” and “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau and Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Yes. Two books. I’ve started to run out of things to read to wind down at the end of the day and I don’t want to buy any more good books because I have enough stuff to ship back! (Though Ed placed an amazon order recently and won’t tell me what he ordered. However, he mentioned it in the same breath as Neil Gaiman’s online journal which he has been horribly addicted to. I suspect it’s some Neil Gaiman and I’m not going to complain about that!) I borrowed the Thoreau from my good friend Minette, but it’s slow going! Very interesting ideas about economics and self-reliance but I find I can only read about five pages at a time! If I read it while I was more awake I’m sure I could get through it a little quicker. So most nights I try to read a bit of Thoreau and then switch to Life of Pi before I go to sleep.

I read Life of Pi when I first got here and loved it! So I’m reading it again. It reads just as well the second time through and I’m retaining more of the symbolic threads this time. I love Martel’s poetic and magical realist style. I read an interview with him in Ascent magazine a few months ago and he talked a bit about the next piece he’s working on. Something about a monkey, a donkey, and a quilt? Can’t remember exactly, but you people in Saskatoon probably know more than I do since he was the writer-in-residence at the library there the year before last!!

Listening to:
My entire CD collection that I brought to Japan in shuffle mode on my new 20GB ipod!

O yes. Ed had bought me an ipod shuffle for my birthday and I love it! Then in February my laptop died a loud sizzly battery death and we found it would be 2 or 3 times the price to repair it here as it would be in Canada. I decided to buy a 12″ Powerbook G4 (looks the same as Ed’s – just a LOT tinier) and there was a package deal where if I bought an ipod I could get a ¥20,000 rebate (That’s about $260 CAN). So I did! Yep – got an 20GB ipod for about $100 :). My entire CD collection fits on it with room to spare, though I’ll rip the rest of my CDs in Canada once I’m back.

The shuffle mode seems to prefer Philip Glass, Tori Amos, and Ekova for some reason. Though quite often I’ll be listening to it and something I had forgotten about will pop up and stir up happy memories 🙂

But, to be fair and a little more specific, I’m really enjoying Björk’s Medulla and Tori Amos’ The Beekeeper at the moment.

And a huge thanks goes to my sister April for lugging my old laptop and ALL my CDs back to Canada from Japan last week. Good thing she doesn’t like shopping as much as Amy does!