Friday, February 28, 2014

March 1, 2014 (Tokyo)

March 1, 2014

Tokyo is very much of a city that I can feel by my fingertips.  If it has a logic, it is sort of beyond my understanding, because in a sense it reminds me of Paris, in that you use a location as a set piece, and then from there the roads becomes a spider’s web covering the rest of the city.  Tokyo is like this as well, because nothing really connects to each other.  In a way it makes me think of Los Angeles in that it is a city full of villages.  Each area has its distinct identity and purpose.  I tried to explain this to Justin Bieber, because I took him out for his birthday and I always want to show him a good time.  But it's hard, because his standards are quite high.  

He is interested in Noh and Kabuki theater, which may surprise certain people, but he bases (at least in his mind) Kabuki practices in his latest stage show.  His manager talked him out of wearing a formal Kabuki wig and make-up, because he felt it may be too radical for his teenage fans.  Justin has a great admiration for the theater and its practices and therefore wanted to see some Noh while he was in Tokyo. 

Noh was first performed in the thirteenth century, and Justin loves the thought of being involved in that tradition.  He also loves the idea that a typical or traditional Noh play can last all day.  His one dream is to do a performance that will start at 10: AM and end sometime in the early evening.  There will be lunch breaks, but more likely he will invite the audience to bring food into the arena.  The play he wishes to base his new show on is “Aoi no Ue (Lady Aoi) which is a Heian period Japanese Noh play that is inspired by the ancient Japanese novel “Tale of the Genji.” In this Noh piece, there are three characters.  Prince Genji, his wife Lady Aoi, and the Prince’s mistress Lady Rokujo.  The conflict of the narration is that Lady Aoi becomes pregnant with her husband’s child, which causes Lady Rokujo to be jealous and seeks revenge.  Her living spirit leaves the body and possesses Lady Aoi. 

Justin wants to portray Lady Aoi, and feels he can write some new songs for this theater piece slash concept album.   Justin and I became tight after I was hired to write some lyrics for his music, but it didn’t turn out that great.  Nevertheless he asked me to adopt “Aoi no Ue” to the modern era but using the techniques of classic Noh theater.  Justin is one of those artists that has a natural instinct for what will work and I never doubt him or his talent.  I’m very excited to work together on this project with him.  Now that I’m in Tokyo I can fully focus on this project, and also at the same time I can celebrate Justin’s birthday and talent in one place and in one time. 

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