Saturday, February 26, 2011

A little research about existing parables, fairytales, my thoughts

Dohee Lee (right ) & me in the REDSHOES photo session with Steven Miler
I have been watching some japanese variety shows for some years and one of my favorite programs is called BAKUSHO_MONDAI JAPANESE CULTURE EDUCATION SERIES where a very famous japanese comedy duo explores the best of the best scientists, historians, artists, politicians, innovators, inventors of all genres in japan today in very frank and deep discussions and explorations in documnentary style, always engaging in an intensive conversation with all these amazing human beings. There was one exciting episode where a research scholar named TOSHIO OZAWA of folktales/fairy tales and oral- told tales was deconstructing and analyzing some of the most popular existing fairy tales to us.I guess his sharp observations and intense speculations on these passed- on tales have made the german  and european historians shocked and blown away with his insights. One of  many, of them was CINDERELLA, and he said " did you know? " DRAMATICALLY to the camera," Cinderella actually has went to the ball  3TIMES, SECRETLY BEHIND HER FAMILY, not just once before she left her famous glass shoe incident". Apparently Grimm's Tale's version of Cindrella is a diffrent title also. He explained how this "GOING THERE THREE TIMES " was regretfully important aspect of the story changed by Disney, into once, so the  important structure of the story  shape was destoyed. It goes soemthing like this:
Each time she goes to the ball, she is dressed up and dolled up so beautifully, and when she runs back home she goes back into this dirty attire. When she goes to the palace ball the 2nd time, the prince falls in love with her propose to her, but she runs away back home again.She dresses back into this dirty girl again. The third time she goes, she leaves her glass slipper, and the prince goes in a huge investigation to go find her, and when he finds her , they marry and are happy etc. etc. So Toshio was greatly bothered WHY didnt she just accept the prince's proposal in the first visit and just make the story nice and effiscient??? What was that purpose of going back and forth, back and forth..?? Then he thought: isnt this the behavior and the action of a typical adolescent youth? In the daily life, the youth might traumatize the parents, do "bad" things, etc. but any person , those kids truly have a yearning, and a struggle to show and shine their "TRUE SELF ", to be that special person that they potentailly can be. The daily and the mundane life is  somehow preventing them, having them feel trapped. He is certain of this. and not only do they yearn to be their ultimate self, but they also have this need to have a witness,  some one out there to accept them,  this TRUE SELF needs to be accepted by some body. But after the acceptance, they do not know - what the outcome would be- its a total terror and mystery what would proceed after that acceptance- they dont quite know why, but they go back, they must return back to their small, ugly duckling self. So does it mean they stay that way? No, after a while, a courage builds again, and a desire returns to be this  other self again, so she returns to the ball. So she gets accepted again, and she runs back home again. Isnt this the mirror of most adolescent behavior? he calls it a pendulum named Cindrella is swinging back and forth. She must wait until it finally stops swinging. And gradually, and surely, that pendulum's space will get smaller, eventually coming to a stillness. So.. if you erase this 3 TIMES going to a ball, reducing to one, this important message VANISHES.
 He explained that the true hidden tale of the fragile and struggling yearning mind of an youth, typical rebellious and complex behavior of an adolescent, and what it meant,explaining why and how the original un-altered tales in this way had to be the way it had to be in order to give us the powerful and deeply insightful message. Old folk stories and parables tells a tale of deep rooted issues- that is why it is so natural to tell the violence, the gruesomeness that it contains a lot of time in these stories.Humanbeing's life is or Animal's life is supported by taking another animal's life. They are also reminding us of this tale, so to denying that, he claims is dangerous.
Us, or we as people in the last couple of decades has changed and altered most of these tales, trying to fit them into a "morally correct" school text books- all us around the world has perhaps done this-I rose up from the sofa with my empty bag of potato chips and nausious -tired-sorry- greasy face and WANTED TO SCREAM with excitement.I felt like there was some kind of opening in my usually overly full spilling head. Another one was SNOW WHITE 's actual original story -  The The evil queen disguises her self first as an old woman selling  silk ribbons, and then end up strangling SnowWhite who lets her into the house and buys it.The dwarfs comes home later in the afternoon and find her dead. They somehow untie the ribbon revive her (!) , and then warn her to never let any body sell her anything.But ofcourse the next time, the dwarfs are gone to work in the woods, and Snow White is alone, and the evil queen now revists to sell her a beautiful poisoneous comb.And ofcourse Snow White is an impulsic shopper, lets her in,buys the comb, and let her comb her hair and dies.The dwarfs find her with a poisoneous comb and removes it, she come back to life.
The last visit one was the one with the posisoneous apple. The queen lets her bite an apple.The dwarfs comes home and could not find any thing wrong with the external damage of the body, and so tragically, they could not revive her. Days later, the prince walks by in the forest, falls in love with the dead girl , adopts the whole glass casket with him,  BUT IT WAS NOT THE KISS THAT REVIVED HER. The apple that was stuck in her throat has tumbled out by it self and saved her when the glass casket was bumped on a tree stump ,when being carried in the forest by the prince and his gang. 
TOshio Ozawa interepreted that it is a parable that humanbeings WILL MAKE MISTAKES, even MULTIPLE MISTAKES in their life, even stupid mistakes, but perhaps happiness still arrives, making  its message that that you will still turn out ok, even with some fatal mistakes,  a very positive and optimistic view/observation of life.  And that life will  perhaps turn out even amazing, like her meeting the prince after all the traumas she caused her self, despite the warnings of the dwarfs. If she didnt take a risk, if she didnt follow her curiosity and desires- she might have ended up cleaning up, and working for the 7 Dwarfs perhaps all her life doing their laundry. (!)The great thing for me was,  the KISS OF THE PRINCE did not save her. That is ofcourse, was made up by Walt Disney.He was a sweet romantic, I can see that with all his re-imaginning of all the tales in his beautiful hand made,  historical innovative animations.
- In this way I am starting to researching many things like Grimm Brothers..who existed about 200 years ago - for instance that they have been collectors of oral tales, specifically from the women around them. I loved this fact they were writing down an oral tradition of story tellings, and it has become a very visual thing to us, reading with our eyes as a book, and how different it was then !! from hearing a dramatic story teller who was almost like an actor, a singer, a poet and someone who probabely delivered  the oral tales with certain energy, synergy with the listeners, providing a sensory universe feast, like the old woman Femann (spelling check ) that the Grimm Brothers often talked about. She was a GREAT story teller.
one of the multiple grandmothers that will battle with the girl Miwak on the first chapter
Jason Puccinelli's pupeteering swan is slowly taking its shape for the 2nd chapter

Steven Miller-Our beloved photographer who has shot our REDSHOES poster last week
This last week that my collaborator Dohee Lee was here up from the bay area, a lot has happened. We have been thinking; we have been exploring many ways of "STORY TELLING". We would like to explore how the sounds, the melodies, vocals, movement and all of that embodiment- how that can tell the stories, how can we vicserally convey the rawness of the telling of the tales through abstraction,  thru surreal soup of soundscapes, with usage of Jherek, Joshua and Dohee's more melodic and structured, deftly composed, detailed music -like a passionate , oral story teller, likening the very dramatic and  almost spiritual embodiment of the BUNRAKU puppet theater's heart wrenching singing narrator.....with usage of familiar iconic figures, with audience interaction, and OFCOURCE with great humor- and in the challenging uncontrolled environment of 5 different sites of the outdoors. I hope to tell the stories that is an intense sensory experience...
Steven Miller ties ribbons around Dohee Lee & I
The Red Shoes Project is a contemporary fairytale told in five chapters, inspired by some of the iconic stories like pinnochio, Redridinghood, and the Wild Swans- A once broken and stagnant lifeless girl Miwak awakens, her soul, her creative spirit shunned and separated- almost forgotten in the attic.
Its a story exploring the struggle to follow one's creative path. This sonic and visual-movement theater is a re-imagineing of Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes, the tale of a girl who is cursed to dance herself to death as a punishment for following her desires. Or ,the original version has interpreted as"vanity" or some one who followed her obsession-when she should have followed the morals of the church, the community, and not ever breaking that code. I saw it as a heretic, or someone who dared to be a little different... or , our version is more like a question: what if we changed our perspective all together- this story of the girl who made these -what you call mistakes- betraying her beloved kind step mother, ignoring the warnings,slipping deeper into her explorations of her desire-obsessions that she can no longer see the same world as it was before she stepped into her dancing redshoes.I have grown up being acused of all of these very things- wanting to be an artist- when I was finally driven to make my own choices to live a completely creative life( life of an artist ) - even by my own family, it was considered betrayal, and all the walls came tumbling down since then. 
Our performances- our story of the Red Shoe Project are being held in conjunction with the first museum survey of Degenerate Art Ensemble's work at the Frye Art Museum in spring 2011.The stages we are in now-It is in the midst of creating, as I write, in my sleepy late hours of the night.


Purple Mark said...

Thanks for the retelling of these classic Fairy Tales, Haruko!

stone ball said...

This project sounds wonderful Haruko.

I'0m sorry that I will miss it, but would love to see it some day, perhaps even on dvd ...

Regardless, I wish you all the success in the world!

Anonymous said...

I thankyou guys for reading my blog and commenting on it! Good to hear from you purple mark! - HARUKO

Jean said...

I love your blog Haruko. That Japanese show sounds wonderful too - I wish they had subtitles!
I hope New York was a great time. xo, Jean