Hijikata and His Double


Work in progress by METHEOR

Concept, staging and dramaturgy: Ani Vaseva, Boyan Manchev and Leonid Yovchev

Consultants: Futoshi Hoshino and Yasuo Kobayashi

Visual artist: Stefan Donchev

with: Leonid Yovchev, Boyan Manchev and Futoshi Hoshino

The premiere took place at the State Puppet Theater, Plovdiv, on 20 September 2019.

Hijikata and his Double premiered in Sofia on 30 October 2019 at the Culture Centre of Sofia University and on 31 October 2019 at the Cinema House. It will be presented in Tokyo at the University of Tokyo’s East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts (EAA) on 1 December 2019.

Ani Vaseva, Boyan Manchev and Leonid Yovchev gave the introductory lecture Radical Experience and Performative Counter-Techniques: Tatsumi Hijikata and the Beginning of Butoh on 30 October 2019 at the Cultural Centre of Sofia University.

Hijikata and his Double was accompanied by the publication of the book Dark Poem by Boyan Manchev, with photographies by Boryana Pandova. Dark Poem was presented in the frame of the Sofia premiere of Hijikata and his Double on 30 and 31 October 2019.

Hijikata and his Double is part of the program of Plovdiv 2019 – European Capital of Culture, Focus: Japanese Culture Programme, implemented in partnership with the EU-Japan Fest Foundation. The project received additional support by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, and was accomplished in partnership with the Cultural Centre of Sofia University, Cinema House, Etude Gallery and HaHaHa Impro Theater.

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Hijikata and his Double is dedicated to Tatsumi Hijikata, the legendary founder of Butoh – a radical Japanese dance form, which played a crucial part in the history of contemporary performing arts, half a century after the premiere of the cult and scandalous performance of Hijikata Tatsumi and the Japanese people.

Tatsumi Hijikata introduces entirely new body techniques and possibilities for the language, based on Antonin Artaud’s visions of a Theater of CrueltyMetheor has worked in a similar direction over the last decade: the engagement with radical artistic practices understood as exploration of the possibilities (and limits) of the body, language, theatrical techniques as well as forms of existence, has been shared with Hijikata.

Hijikata and His Double

The concept, staging and dramaturgy of the performance are the collective work of Ani Vaseva, Boyan Manchev and Leonid Yovchev (Metheor). Leonid Yovchev’s solo work is combined with a performance-lecture by Boyan Manchev with the participation of Leonid Yovchev and Futoshi Hoshino, a consultant of the show, together with the philosopher Yasuo Kobayashi.

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Who is Tatsumi Hijikata? Who is his Double?

Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986) is one of the most radical figures in the field of the performing arts in the second half of the last century, the founder of a new stage form known as Butoh: more precisely, ankoku butoh: the dark Butoh, or literally, the dark dance. Hijikata tried to unlock the potential of the human body as an expressive instrument, going beyond normal performance techniques and even beyond the general patterns of body movement as such. More than half a century has passed since the first Butoh spectacle. During that half a century, Butoh was aesthetized as a somewhat macabre, somewhat didactically beautiful spectacular dance form, and Hijikata has progressively become a cult figure in the performing arts scene. Yet too little is known about his early programatic works, from which only fragmentary frames and documentation are preserved. Therefore, the starting point of this spectacle will be the attempt for a fantastic reconstruction of one of the key butoh performances, created half a century ago: Tatsumi Hijikata and the Japanese people. This fantastic re-enactment will also engage in a story about the life and iconoclastic work of the Hijikata; Hijikata’s Double will also roam in it.

Who is Hijikata’s Double?

His Double is first of all, Yuneama Kunio – the person, who later on became Hijikata Tatsumi, adopting the name of a legendary rebellious samurai from the 19th century, being in the meantime Hijikata Genet, after the name of the French writer Jean Genet. His double is therefore also Jean Genet. But also Yukio Mishima. But he is also the weirdest and queerest of the decadent Roman emperors, Heliogabalus, the crowned anarchist. Furthermore, his Double is even the Japanese People. Last but not least, Hijikata Tatsumi’s Double is, perhaps, the Bulgarian actor Leonid Yovchev.

This spectacle is dedicated to the reasons, the patterns and the flamboyant eccentricity and insanity of these weird transformations.

It will frontally ask the question: What is a Rebellion of the Body? What is a radical experience? What is radical Art? Is radical Art still possible?

This spectacle is the first sequence of the series of philosophical-performative laboratory dedicated to the work and life of Tatsumi Hijikata, half century after his legendary spectacle Tatsumi Hijikata and the Japanese People.

Hijikata and His Double