Polish – Japanese Noh diplomacy: Chopin and ‘The Piano Tuner’

Inter-cultural theatre plays involving Noh and other performance forms are not mere artistic endeavours, but acts with strong political relevance.

This seems to be the case of The Piano Tuner (in Polish ‘Stroiciel fortepianu‘), a Noh play written by Jadwiga Maria Rodowicz who is (at once) a Japanese Noh scholar, the ambassador of Poland in Japan, and was a long-time member of the famous experimental Polish theatre group Gardzienice. The combination of these three elements contains an east/centre/west triad that marks the sign of the times. Claudel was ambassador of France in Japan for six years, at a time when being ambassador did not require knowing Japanese culture.. or even Japanese language! The influence of Japanese theatre in its work has been long studied, yet Noh does not seem to have revolutionised his conception of theatre. Many Western theatre practitioners (including Grotowski, of whom Gardzienice’s leader Staniewski was a disciple) claim influence of Noh in their production… yet we can hardly find Noh specialists among them.

I have not seen The Piano Tuner yet but certainly its premises are much alluring. It is not clear what the non-Noh elements will be (besides piano and costumes), but the plot and the characters clearly reveal the attempt to make interculturalism the main theme of this play.

Below is an extract from the original article, to be found here:

Warsaw’s Witkiewicz Studio Theatre hosts the premiere of the first ever Polish Noh production – a major form ofJapanese classical dance theatre – performed by the legendary Tessenkai Theatre Company from Tokyo

Jadwiga Maria Rodowicz, a well-known Orientalist specialising in the history of Japanese drama and theatre aesthetics, is responsible for the drama’s text, entitled “The Piano Tuner”. Since 2008 Rodowicz has been Polish ambassador to Japan, and from 1979-89 she was a leading member of the acclaimed “Gardzienice” theatre group.

The drama plots a symbolic meeting between two renowned artist friends in the enchanted garden at Nohant, namely Fryderyk Chopin and Eugène Delacroix. Having grown weary of Paris, the ageing Delacroix pays a visit to Nohant. In a strange vision he encounters Chopin, with whom he is able to engage in masterful debates about art, music and Chopin’s own attempts to mediate between his Polish and French identities…

Chopin-Noh Project calendar of events:

  • Premiere of ‘The Piano Tuner’ – three performances on February 17, 18 & 19 at 19:00, at the Witkiewicz Studio Theatre in Warsaw
  • Promotion of Jadwiga Rodowicz’s new book ‘Boski Dwumian’ (jointly curated by the Jerzy Grotowski Institute) – 17:00 on February17 at the Witkiewicz Studio Theatre
  • Theatre workshop (open to the public) given by members of the Tessenkai Theatre Company – from 13:00 – 15:00 on February 19 and again from 11:00 – 13:00 on February 20 at the Zelwerowicz Theatre Academy, ul. Miodowa 22/24
  • Partial performance of “The Piano Tuner” in the nave of the Holy Cross Church (ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 3) on February 20 at 13:50.
  • 3 thoughts on “Polish – Japanese Noh diplomacy: Chopin and ‘The Piano Tuner’

    1. I was a director’s (Kasai Kenichi – general manager of Tessenkai) assistant at this project, in Poland. Jadwiga Rodowicz is my old university teacher.
      Chouritsushi will be stage in Kokuritsu Nougakudo on 28 of Fabruary, in Tokyo, and than in Kanazawa. Try to see it in Tokyo, if there is no tickets left I will ask Mukawa Toshiki – young producer from Tessenkai, maybe they can keep one for You. Kanze Tetsunojou is astonishing in a role of Chopin. It is rather a full noh convention, the only western input is music – to which Testunojou Sensei performs kuse mai. Chouritsushi is performed by one of the best nou ensembles including Tonoda Kenkichi (waki) as Delacroix, Fujita Rokurobyoue (noukan) and Oukura Genjirou (kotsuzumi).

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