In a special partnership, Japan House São Paulo and the Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo are promoting the Brazilian premiere of the theater production Hell Says Noh, which involves the artistic fusion between Japanese Noh theatre and Brazilian traditional string literature (literatura de Cordel). The premiere will take place on September 29, at 8 pm (GMT-3), on Japan House's YouTube channel. On the 30th, at 8 pm (also GMT-3), an exclusive live talk will be held on the show, with the play's director and its main actor, moderated by Angela Mayumi Nagai, a Brazilian Noh theatre expert, and Natasha Barzaghi Geenen, Cultural Director of Japan House São Paulo.
Showcased in Japan last November in the context of the Olympic bridge from Rio to Tokyo, the theater production Hell Says Noh was conceived by the Embassy of Brazil in partnership with director and Noh expert Soraya Umewaka. The project was part of an innovative strategy for bringing Brazilian culture to the Japanese public through its combination with Japanese cultural expressions, martial arts and multimedia technology. The show is based on a reinterpretation by Umewaka of the literary work “A Chegada de Lampião no Inferno” (Lampião’s arrival in hell), by José Pachêco, one of the most important Brazilian authors of traditional string literature (literatura de Cordel) of the 20th century.
The play features Noh master Naohiko Umewaka, who is part of a family tradition of more than 600 years in Noh Theatre, in the role of the Brazilian legendary character Lampião, creating a unique richness that arises from the cultural exchange between Brazil and Japan and the union of such traditional styles as Cordel literature and Noh theatre. In the production, Lampião will try to enter the gates of hell, only to be refused passage by Satan, whose orders appear via projection mapping. During the show, a battle takes place between Lampião and the guardians of hell's gates, represented by Yoko Mori, a Capoeira specialist, and Miki Nakamachi, a Karate champion, both legendary martial arts practices. Musically, the plot is accompanied by the Barravento Brazilian percussion group, formed by Japanese musicians, as well as by the Japan-based Brazilian duo Via Brasil.
Complementing the special schedule of the Hell Says Noh premiere, Japan House São Paulo will promote on the 30th, at 8pm, a talk with the director Soraya Umewaka and Noh Master Naohiko Umewaka, the play's main actor, in a shared moderation between Angela Mayumi Nagai, a researcher and specialist in Noh theatre, and Natasha Barzaghi Geenen, Cultural Director at Japan House São Paulo. Soraya says, “I look forward to sharing with you a conversation with my father - a Noh Master, who also played Lampião - about the originality and humor of Cordel Literature and the profound nature of Noh theatre.” This talk will be simultaneously translated into Portuguese, English and Japanese.
Regarding the show, which had a very positive repercussion in Tokyo, director Umewaka continues: “This production emerged as a means to communicate the beauty of Cordel Literature - specifically the story of A Chegada de Lampião no Inferno - from the perspective of Noh theatre." Soraya adds: “At a time when we need to be innovative about the way we share theatre experiences, we are very happy to partner up with Japan House São Paulo, in order to virtually launch Hell Says Noh to the Brazilian audience.”
For the Ambassador of Brazil in Tokyo, Eduardo Saboia, the initiative channels the power of the arts and culture to further strengthen the relationship between both countries. "The partnership between the Embassy of Brazil and Japan House will now enable the Brazilian public to be engaged with Noh Theatre, similarly to how the Japanese public was introduced to Cordel literature and related visual, dance and musical expressions. This phase of the partnership completes a circle of cultural exchange. As a circle this exchange is never-ending; rather it ever unites, like the human bonds that tie our two societies together. It’s symbolic that our partnership is coming to fruition when we are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Brazilian community in Japan.”
Still on the partnership, Natasha Barzaghi Geenen, Cultural Director of Japan House São Paulo, declares: “We are very honored and happy to promote the exclusive presentation in Brazil of Hell Says Noh, a work that symbolizes the bonds between the Brazilian and Japanese peoples. The strength of the union of elements such as Cordel literature and Noh theatre is very powerful and highlights the fundamental role of art in the dialogue between peoples and cultures, as an element of approximation.” In 2018, the Brazilian Embassy in Tokyo presented the exhibition “DŌ: on the way to virtue”, which had been conceived and exhibited by Japan House São Paulo also in 2018. Now, with Hell Says Noh, it happens the other way around. “This new partnership with the Embassy reinforces our action as a platform for the dissemination of Japan, as well as the fundamental importance of exchange for cultural enrichment”, adds Natasha.
In Tokyo, Hell Says Noh was produced and organized by the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Japan in partnership with the Brazil-Japan Association of Culture and Economy (ANBEC), with the support of Panasonic Corporation.
Premiere Theatrical show: Hell Says Noh (Lampião Nô Inferno)
When: September 29th, 8 pm Brazil time (Duration 40 minutes)
Where: Institution's YouTube channel
Online Talk on Hell Says Noh with Soraya Umewaka, Naohiko Umewaka, Angela Mayumi Nagai and Natasha Barzaghi Geenen
When: September 30th, 8 pm Brazil time (Duration 60 minutes)