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A ritual for exiting the everyday loop
Mum and the Gypsy, “Mum and the Second Someone, Norimizu Ameya (Director) and the Gypsy”

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Takahiro Fujita, of the theater group “Mum and the Gypsy”, is undertaking a series of releasing his works in collaboration with “someone” at SNAC in Kiyosumi Shirakawa. The second “someone” is Norimizu Ameya (June 1-3, 2012). Tickets were sold out immediately. I lined up for four hours before opening and got a performance day ticket for a standing seat. The story crammed in to a one hour performance is about the final three seconds of a man hit by a car. The perspectives of a girl (her narration forms the framework of the play) and two office ladies who were on the scene are overlapped, and each of their three seconds are fervently repeated.

In the last “someone” (Yoshio Otani), the entrance to SNAC was closed, but this time, the shutters were open and a wrecked yellow car was positioned as if it had crashed into the theatre. After the doors opened, in the 30 minutes until the audience is seated and start of the performance, you could see passers-by walking past saying “What is this?” There might have been some performers or staff of the group among the audience. Takahiro Fujita continuously intertwines this three second loop that should usually be an unpredictable “reality” and “daily event”, and applies extremely precise devices.

Shaking up this loop is the movement of Ameya in the second half who, like a martyr, with no resistance repeatedly falls off a stationary bicycle. Only the final conclusion of this repeated fall remained a mystery to everybody. I even thought there was a possibility that he had been badly injured and the performance would have to be stopped. Caught up in the loop, the audience, who smelt death, would hear a crashing sound and stare at the fallen Norimizu Ameya, anxiously calling out, “Is Ameya all right?”, and then you realize. The possibility of a true stench of death being emitted is not in the three second loop, but only in the body that may be injured.

Then, towards the end of the performance, Ameya moves away from the bicycle and sits in a chair saying, “I danced in the air,” recounting his death in the first person. In the same way as being injured when hit by a car, a first person recollection of pain inflicted by repeatedly falling over, certainly has an air of involvement. The audience feels that this man may be the dead man. However, this possession by a spirit isn’t complete. There is a tiny falsehood about this “I”. Although tiny, it doesn’t disappear. While there is a strong impression that that dead man is here, because of that “tiny doubt”, the audience cannot deny that impression. That is because the body of Ameya, who continuously fell over, escaped the loop. The dead person cannot talk about death. Nobody can talk about death as the person it involves.

The girl played by Izumi Aoyagi, had climbed to the top of a pedestrian bridge to commit suicide, and witnessed the man getting run over and hitting the pavement. She never jumped from the pedestrian bridge. She simply “came down”. That is where the performance ends.

However, I believe that, for many audience, there would have been a true feeling of that three seconds continuing on their way home. The trees on the street, the telephone poles, even the train platform, appeared solid. Norimizu Ameya’s voice and Izumi Aoyagi’s voice continued to ring in their ears from another world. Looking back now, I think that the intended fourth second in the future for the body that repeatedly fell, even just momentarily, opened a hole in the ever-so-strong three second shield.

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Graduated from School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II, Waseda University majoring in literary art. Started current position after completing her doctorate at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University and the Faculty of Literature, Lumi竪re University Lyon 2. Majors in Western theatre texts with a focus on France and production. Wrote From Novels to Drama-Jean Giraudoux Changes in Narration (Waseda University Press) , and major essays such as Influence of Jean Giraudoux in Shuji Terayama – Radio Drama ‘Daireifuku’(in Theatre Essay Collection, Volume 54), Les sons sauvent les vies ; Souvenirs acoustiques de 4.48 psychose de Sarah Kane mis en sc竪ne de Norimizu Ameya, Théâtre/Public (197, 2010), and Fujita and Giraudoux--Surrounding Unknown《Chance Encounter》 (Comparative Literature Annual No.47).