Auckland Arts Festival
Scored in Silence
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Aotea Square
Then Streaming on Vidzing
March 12 – 26
Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples
“Scored in Silence” is a solo documentary / theatre / film performance by Chisato Minamimura which tells the story of the deaf survivors of Hiroshima.
It provides a brief history of the events leading up to Japan’s involvement in World War II and the various steps taken by the American government before the dropping of the A-Bomb including the decision not to inform the Japanese of the attack and the opposition of many American scientists to the decision.
Chisato Minamimura address the audience using sign language as well as providing English language captions on the screen which also displays diagrams and images related to the event.
Additionally, even though this is a “deaf production” there is a low level soundscape which heightens the experience of the show.
While Minamimura uses sign language her hand movements and facial expressions carry an emotional dimension.
The description of the flight of the plane carrying the bomb is brilliantly conveyed with diagrammatic maps as well as graphic rendering of the plane. Minamimura acts as the pilot, moving and jiggling with the vibrations of the plane and these scenes are intercut with images of her as a worker in the field looking up at the plane and as individual running and working, soldiers saluting.
When the bomb drops the sound accompaniment abruptly stops and there is total silence and we are put in the place of the deaf who never heard the noise of the explosion.
Then there are images of black rain and we are bombarded with a welter of diagrammatic images of arms, legs and hands to signify the effects of the blast.
The interviews with survivors tells of the personal and social consequences of the aftermath, including forced sterilisation and the ongoing discrimination experienced by these isolated members of Japanese society including the story about a deaf barber who wanted to expand his business but was continually rejected for a bank loan.
Apart from one image of the destroyed city Minamimura has not included images of the effects of the bomb or the dead, although statements by the deaf survivors speak of seeing the dead.
The work is a slightly surreal mixture of theatre, dance and mime which is relentlessly engaging in its innovative and almost detached form of story-telling.
Streaming on Vidzing
Online 12 – 26 March