April 2, 2018
For my research into Rakugo as a world theatre tradition, I began by immersing myself in videos of Rakugo being performed (usually in English, sometimes in Japanese) while simultaneously reading about the conventions I was seeing from the book Rakugo: Performing Comedy and Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Tokyo. Having established in my mind a fairly concrete impression of what Rakugo looked like and how it should be performed, I then went on to examine the cultural explanation for why these conventions were important to Rakugo. This had been my original plan: to learn the principles of Rakugo and then, with those in mind, look at the cultural origins and attempt to tie them together. In my opinion, it is easier to relate the conventions to the culture than it is to relate the culture to the conventions—but that is a personal preference.
The biggest problem which I am currently facing is the lack of English Rakugo performances. The only reputable Rakugo performer that I can find in English is William Crowley, who does seem to be very good at Rakugo from the few recordings of his performances that I’ve been able to find. The cause of my hesitation to use Crowley as a model is the modernization of the tradition that Crowley seems to have implemented; for instance, the tone, language, subject, and body movement are all more contemporary than seems natural for Rakugo. Hopefully, I will be able to find other performers that will be more reliable to draw from.
Reflections on Research Presentation
September 18, 2018
Having passed three or so months since I created and gave my presentation, it was something of a shock to view the recording and watch my past performance. I quickly discovered that my memory of Rakugo was largely superficial, in that I remembered certain traditions and little snippets of historical context, but not the entirety of the information stored in my presentation. I remembered far more than I had known before conducting my research, but far less than I had when I actually gave it. This was the first factor in my decision not redo the presentation. The second was that if I were to do so, it would be almost entirely to provide physical recording of my practice—and this seemed to be only a marginal improvement, particularly given that I had already explained my practice ritual of performing while sitting in the car. Between having to re-research the entire presentation, re-devise my moment of theatre, and seeing only marginal improvement, I decided my time and energy could be better spent helping my peers with their presentations and brainstorming for other projects like the Director’s Notebook.