Commentary on the performance: Drummers of Yamamoto – by Sarah Zhang

When I heard the first beat of the drum, I was fascinated by how resonating the sound is in the hall. I could feel the chairs shaking every time the performers hit the drum. This gives me a sense of connection, it’s almost as if I am feeling the energy and the passion (which is also the title of the performance) and I feel myself closer to the culture. The drums fill the whole performance, without any verbal conversation between the performers, however there are a lot of interesting interactions between the performers and the audience. The motion of body performance, the sound of drums and its rhythms really transcends language. It reminds me of what Dr. Bory talked in her unit about how the body is used to convey messages, to perform an identity.

Most of the performance seemed very indigenous, with a lot of reference to religion and tradition, but also the engagements with the audience serve as a bridge between different parts of the performance. I wonder whether the performance will keep the engagement if the show is performed in Japan. Although I enjoyed the engagement, there was a sense of disconnection, as if the performance got pulled out of the cultural context that it relies on. Through the engagement part, the performers made sure that the foreign audience can, to a certain degree, understand the language of the drummers. The fact that the performance became understandable for people unfamiliar with the culture means that it is already loosing its integrity. If one has to rely on the planned engagement to understand the piece, then he is only grasping onto what he is familiar with, the culture at home, instead of the culture of the drummers. These thoughts reminds me of the incommensurability of language in Dr. Robb’s unit and the idea of tokens of representation in president Quillen’s unit. How should cultures communicate with each other without losing their integrity in the process?

Leave a Reply