This week SVA faculty member and writer David Berry talks to us about his play THE WHALES OF AUGUST and visiting Tokyo!
My play, THE WHALES OF AUGUST, opened in Tokyo on December 4, 2013. Last summer in Maine I showed the Japanese producer and the Japanese director/translator my former summer cottage on an island in Casco Bay—the origin site of the play. They asked me then if I would be willing to come to Tokyo for the opening. Out of respect for their exquisite manners, I didn’t blurt out, “Are you kidding?!”
From November 30 to December 6 I was the honored guest of the Gekidan Mingei Company. Flown Business Class, I was lodged at a very fine centrally located hotel, and assigned a young woman who attended me from 10am to 10pm each day, translating for me, guiding me, and expertly planning our daily itinerary. In one of the world’s most expensive cities, I wasn’t allowed to spend a nickel of my own money.
My experience as author was extraordinary. I understood not a word of the Japanese translation, but I witnessed the very best production of my play that I’ve ever seen. The production, like a musical score played beautifully by a chamber orchestra, conveyed all of the emotional nuances of the play. I saw my play directed by a woman, for the first time, as perhaps it should always have been. I was even asked to take a bow on opening night, which has never happened here…
I marveled at Tokyo’s universal safety and litter free environment, at the amazing manners of the Japanese, at food I never thought I would or could eat. I had the time of my life!
I look forward to sharing my stories and experiences with my students when I return from my sabbatical in the fall of 2014.