“Is This Shovel a Real Shovel?” from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
- Robert Schumann, Forest Scenes, Op. 82
VII. Bird As Prophet (excerpt)
“Reiko’s Monologue” from Norwegian Wood
- Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Norwegian Wood (Arr. Richard Miller)
- Frederic Chopin, Etude, Op. 25, No. 1
- Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in C major, Op. 36, No. 3
- Claude Debussy, Clair de Lune
- Edvard Grieg, Norwegian Dance, Op. 35
“The Tale of Miu and the Ferris Wheel” from Sputnik Sweetheart
- Wolfgang Mozart, Sonata in B flat Major, K. 333
I. Allegro (excerpt)
- Claude Debussy, Fireworks (excerpt)
- Sergei Profokiev, Sonata No. 2 in d minor, Op. 14 (excerpts)
I. Allegro, ma non troppo
II. Scherzo, Allegro marcato
went to a fantastic performance tonight called “murakami music.” a pianist (eun-bi kim) and an actress (laura yumi snell) worked with a director (kira simring) to set some of murakami’s works to music, specifically the pieces above. it started off with “is this shovel a real shovel?” feeling like a pretty traditional reading with a piano accompaniment, the music chosen and played very deliberately to go with the reading, and the pieces flowed organically from “is this shovel a real shovel?” — “reiko’s monologue” was slightly more dramatic, like a story not only being told but performed, and the set reached a wonderful climax with “the tale of miu and the ferris wheel,” which felt the most like a performance.
(during “is this shovel a real shovel?,” laura actually read from the book, the wind-up book chronicle — or held it in her hands and used it as a prop — while the two other stories were performed without the books.)
i really loved how these stories were set to music, and not only that but also how the whole thing was brought to life. i honestly had gone in expecting someone to be reading while someone played the piano in the background, so i was very pleasantly surprised at how thoughtfully all the music pieces had been chosen and arranged and how the performances had been choreographed and staged. the cell is a tiny, tiny theatre, but i loved the use of space — there was just a piano on the floor and a raised platform behind it, but they made very effective use of it with their movements and with the lighting. also, costuming was great, too: laura first started reading in a coat over an evening dress and heels, removed the coat between the first and second story, then removed the evening dress to reveal a shorter dress for the third story. (she also changed her shoes at one point, but i forgot where, sorry!) at the end of the third story, she undid her hair and brought the coat back into play — and i’d say what i liked best was that eun-bi and laura weren’t simply telling stories, but they were, in a sense, embodying the stories, really thinking about what murakami was saying and how to express that through music and performance.
at the end, eun-bi and laura played a duet together (they’re both classically trained pianists, though laura switched to theatre), which was fantastic because, one, i love duets and, two, it felt like the ending credits of a film. there was a q&a after, too, during which they talked about murakami, about being friends, about wanting to do more with this project, and i really liked how the tiny space made for a more intimate conversation where the audience was also able to engage with them.
all in all, it was an amazing night, and i’m so glad i went. i really hope they continue to do more of these, and, now, i really can’t wait until murakami’s new novel is translated and published in english, and i want to read more of him, despite having felt a little lukewarm towards him recently. i can’t deny that murakami has a very strong pull for me, despite said lukewarmness, and i’ve been wanting to buy the paperback of 1Q84 and read it again, so, hey, maybe i’ll get on that!