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A Message from the Artistic Director

In the folk arts that have been handed down across Japan, there’s a sacredness, an air of mystery within prayers. The drums express this, and I’d like for the audience to feel it. I hope theater-goers will experience the same sort of otherworldly splendor that you sense at a temple or a shrine, or when you discover things in nearby woods.

Another thing is I like people to enjoy “darkness.” The beauty of something you come across lit by candlelight, a sense of something vague yet marvelous. Mystery enfolds within it fear, humor, charm, and various other qualities. In the “Serpent Dances” that have come down from old, the defeated serpent is endowed with a surprising level of sacredness. In this performance, many things will emerge from out of the darkness. While it’s a drum concert, playing as only drums can play, we’ve added plenty of visual interest.

A space or time of wonder can only be experienced by those who were actually there. Religious rituals and arts as well have been refined over a long span of time from the inspiration of those who went before us. In this staging of drums I hope the audience will enjoy to the fullest that magical sense of space and time.

— Tamasaburo Bando, Artistic Director

Notes from the Producer

One day, while we were sharing a meal, the artistic director and some Kodo performers were discussing the future of Kodo. They spoke about the future direction of the group and the kind of expression they want to explore moving forward.

You could say that both our field of performing arts and the world we live in differ greatly from that of our artistic director. For this reason alone, his demands on us create significant challenges. If we prepare for a performance with our own concepts, we cannot meet his demands. What is our artistic director aiming to do? What do we need to do to achieve those goals? These questions prompted us to ponder the very meaning of appearing on stage as opposed to just playing taiko.

The answer has to begin with us shedding the image of ourselves that we have forged to date as taiko players. In order for the Kodo performing arts ensemble to carry on, Kodo cannot merely play taiko; the group also has to experiment with new stage productions that captivate more varied and vast audiences. This ensemble has been a leader in the taiko world for many years, so we tend to end up imitating a fixed image of our own, but we do not want this image to limit our creative process.

“Mystery” incorporates lavish theatrical elements with new costumes and props like never before. Best of all, the pieces Kodo performs in this production are almost all new compositions. This performance feels like one answer to our questions about Kodo’s future, a work that was sparked by deeper dialogue and enhanced collaboration with our artistic director. We hope that this new creation will reverberate with this renewed passion and touch the hearts of our audience.