THE WATER STATION at UofSC's Center for Performance Experiment
The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance will present the influential Japanese slow-tempo work The Water Station, September 21-23 at the Center for Performance Experiment. Steven Pearson is directing the production.
Show times are at 3:30pm September 21, 3:30pm and 8pm September 22, and 8pm September 23. Tickets are $10, available only at the door. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Center for Performance Experiment is located at 718 Devine St., between Huger and Gadsden Streets, near the Colonial Life Arena.
The poetic masterwork by revered Japanese theatre artist Shogo Ohta utilizes his revolutionary style of slow tempo and silence to explore human relationships with the elements and each other. Through riveting slow movement and only the actor's silent thoughts and actions, The Water Station depicts the dramatic stories of travelers, displaced by an unspecified atrocity, making their way to a public water spigot.
"...hypnotic and transporting...an evocative antidote to our
daily cacophony, offering quietude as a way of theater."
- The New York Times
UofSC professors Pearson and Robyn Hunt (who performs in the production) share a personal history with the show and its creator. They first saw the production in 1988, then went on to study with Ohta in Kyoto. Through their production company, Pacific Performance Project/East, the pair have staged the show previously in Seattle in 2001, in NYC in 2005, and at the University of SC in 2010.
The work's underlying themes of resilience and renewal in the face of tragedy take on special relevance with this production, says Pearson. "Hurricane Katrina had just hit when we did it in New York. Also, during that run we had a performance on the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Now, we're rehearsing just as Hurricane Harvey has devastated Houston and parts of Texas, and with the whole idea of migration very present in the world. You can feel through this work a definite resonance about people having the fortitude to continue in the face of hardship."
Hunt says the intimacy of the Center for Performance Experiment reminds her of where they originally saw Ohta's production, and should be especially effective for this staging. "The closeness that the audience will experience with the actors, and the surround of the space being contained in a more intimate way, will help the audience viscerally experience what these people might be going through," she says.
One of the most notable and challenging aspects of The Water Station is that it is performed in extremely slow tempo with no spoken language. Hunt says that creates a sense of "hyper-reality" for both the audiences and the actors.
"Ohta theorized that humans are silent much more than we have utterances," says Hunt. "He wanted to bring to the theatre something that caused the audience to wake up and see things, to create a theatre of the present time."
Performing in The Water Station are Hunt, guest actor Eric Bultman, MFA Acting studentsDonavon St. Andre, Kimberly Braun, Gabriela Castillo, Kaleb Edley, Kimberly Gaughan, Libby Hawkins, Darrell Johnston and Nick Stewart, and MFA directing student Lindsay Rae Taylor.