Uzume Archive Part 3: From “Godot” to “Paper Balloon “Waiting for Godot”

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Written by Samuel Beckett, Directed by Peter Goessner
Performance date: 1999
Place of performance:Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka City

“Paper Balloon”
Written by Kunio Kishida, Directed by Peter Goessner
Performance date: 1999
Place of performance:Toga Village, Toyama Prefecture (The 1st Toga Director’s Competition)
The triumphant performance at the main hall of Shokakuji Temple, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu City.
Author; Yoko Matsuo

Since the stage of “My friend Hitler”, we have performed “Red Eyes”, “The Star Prince”, “Nezumi kozou Jirokichi”, “Princess Media” and “Waiting for Godot” twice a year, but in fact, with the help of “Red Eyes” co-starring theatrical group ”Benisyouga”, he had to recruit actors from somewhere for each performance. His plays have earned him a good reputation, locally and in their own right, and the company was gaining recognition as a theater company, but the future of a theater company started by a foreigner on his own was not exactly bright.

We had to cover our own expenses with our own pocket money, and we were unable to pay the salaries of the actors and directors. Unlike in Germany, where reviews of the plays appeared in the thick cultural section of the newspaper the day after the opening day, the plays only occasionally appeared in newspaper small columns and theater magazines. I was so dismayed by this situation that I was beginning to lose sight of the meaning of continuing to put on performing arts in this town. I heard that he once jokingly asked his neighbors if he should go back to Germany and open a ramen shop. Uzume Theater stood on the edge of a precipice., and Peter decided to give up his own theater company and become a member of the ”Benisyouga” for a time.

It was during this time that we decided to put on “Waiting for Godot” (1999), a play organized by the Theater Group ”Benisyouga” and directed by Peter. I remember that the production was decided in response to Peter’s desire to take the time to nurture young actors, and Benisyouga’s Yamaguchi-san decided to stage it. I think he wanted to break out of the current situation where, like in the past, when a performance is over, the actors he had worked on disappear in a cloud of dust.

So far, of the actors who have participated in Peter’s play, Vladimir and Estragon have been double-cast, with Morimasa Takeishi and Manami Goto, and the other pair are Yoko Matsuo and Akiyo Watanabe. Kyoko Yamaguchi as Pozzo. Lucky was cast by Takahiko Arai.

For me, it was my first major role, and the first play in which I was given real training as an actor (though I was not exactly young at the time…). As it turned out, I could’t play well, and on the last day of the show, I replaced by another team, the stage becamed with bitter memories. When I had wake up in the morning and remembered that I had to rehearse again today, I wanted to die. But this experience is the starting point for me to continue being an actor to this day.

After Godot was finished, the four actors who had worked on Vladimir and Estragon, along with Peter, started talking about reuniting the Uzume Theatre. It was as if each of us, and not just me, had awakened to the consciousness of an actor in the course of completing this difficult play.

After that, I was fortunate enough to be able to produce and perform three plays in succession at the splendid Uterus Hall in Orio, Yahatanishi Ward, Kitakyushu, “The Man Who Became a Stick”, “Nishimukusamurai” and “Paper Balloon”. Uterus Hall was originally built as a music hall, a small space with seating for about 50 when built in. Peter happened to be invited to the opening party, and the owner of the hall liked him (probably through enthusiastic negotiations), and he was able to rehearse there with the very warm hospitality of the owner and his wife, who have a deep understanding of the arts. The Uzume Theatre is the only theatre that has allowed us to present plays in this hall, and we thank them very much for this unprecedented treatment.

In particular, “Paper Balloon”, which I created for the first Toga Director’s Competition, won the award for best director and would not have been possible without this environment.

I’d like to write more about that in detail later, but for now, when we thought we had managed to overcome the crisis of the company’s demise, we won the Grand Prize at once, which was the beginning of an unbelievable situation.