|The look of one hand. Via.|
Nearly 30 years after the original production (read the 1981 New York Times review), Oida breathes new life into his venerable one-man comedy with live music, Interrogations: Words of a Zen Master. This week Time Out New York warned "get ready to clap with one hand," while Flavorpill described the piece in detail :
Yoshi Oida is an actor, writer, director, and longtime member of Peter Brook's Paris-based International Centre for Theatre Research. His 1978 one-man show, Interrogations: Words of the Zen Masters, incorporates the brilliant British director's practice of breaking down barriers between performer and audience. Acting as a Zen master, Oida poses direct questions to audience members in the form of koans, riddles without definite answers, which determine enlightenment. One koan leads to another, lasting days. While there can be a very fine line between religion and theatre, Oida's Interrogations is one evening created for the sole purpose of a genuinely shared experience.Though using Zen Buddhism as a framing device, the work draws from timeless theater conventions from around the world. In an exclusive interview with American Theatre [PDF of the article], heralding his return to New York, Oida discussed the play's intricacies:
The texts come from China’s 11th and 12th centuries. Normally in the Zen monastery, the master gives a koan to the student, and the student tries to think about it and write down a good answer. "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand clapping?" "Does a dog have a Buddha nature or not?" There are no right answers, because the koan is not logical. You must understand not the question, but what is the meaning underneath the question. In the 1970s, Beckett and Ionesco were very fashionable. Their plays were not realistic—they were anti-theatre. I thought, yes, this koan is very good for this world of anti-theatre, because there is no logic in it. The Rinzai Zen masters had a lot of questions, which I chose for the performance. Instead of finding out the answer, I pose the questions to the public. I am like a master asking a koan, and the public answers.Interrogations take place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $28 general admission and $23 for Japan Society member. A limited number of $14 student rush tickets are available 1 hour prior to each performance with valid student ID.
Yoshi Oida is also a celebrated opera director. His staging of Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice opens at the Canadian Opera Company on October 16.