In the dark, let the light shine!

By Kazumi Shimodate

One weekend afternoon my eldest daughter, Umi, said to me 'Hey Dad, why don't we go out today?'The weather was good, we bustled about, my three daughters dressed me up and I was ready. Clinging on to the small hope that just maybe I would be able to have a beer when we were out, I decided to leave the car at home, and pushing the tandem baby buggy, I headed out onto the street feeling a rare sensation of excitement.


It had been such a long time since we had eaten out that I spent nearly an hour trying to decide what to eat, but in the end a decision was made to go Italian, and we followed our noses which had caught on to the cheesy aroma drifting from a small shop. Hana (2 yrs old) and I shared a bench, Umi and Solar sat in separate seats. After consultation with my eldest daughter we settled on a pretty satisfactory order: lasagne for Dad, carbonara for Umi, the children's menu for Solar and her huge appetite, and risotto for baby Hana.


Hana, who was sat next to me, showing an interest in the lady directly behind me, came over all smiles, and was continually being complimented with lots of 'Aaaah, how cute!' And I (who to her eyes probably looked more like the baby's grandfather) sat there with an expression of a doting parent who was not quite all there. Up till this point everything was going fine. Eventually the food came, and just as I was thinking about that beer again, my youngest saw Solar's children's meal as her own, and a fierce battle ensued in which she refused to hand it over.


In the end Hana had to eat the risotto, which she normally loves, and she turned her resentment of the fact towards the young lady previously mentioned. And so, with hands that had been used to shovel risotto into her mouth she started to gently stroke the lady's beautifully set hair. By the time I had noticed, the lady's delightful hair had been dyed a risotto hue, and instead of saying something like 'Don't worry about it!' she embarrassingly started shouting. The shop manager came and despite trying to convince her that it was not worth making a mountain out of a molehill, the atmosphere was irreversibly tainted and sour.


After a while, once my daughters had started eating again, Umi asked me 'Dad, are you having fun today?' I answered 'F-u-n! Of course!' but I was plainly making a disgruntled face as I spoke. And so, Umi said this. 'Soon, Hana will be able to help Dad out with things, and Solar will be able to talk more, and I will grow this big.'


We escaped from the restaurant, sped home like an avalanche, had a bath and after I put them to bed, I recalled Umi's words and proudly thought to myself 'My, my, she's now able to talk to me like that', and it was then I realised that it was good to have pushed myself out of the door today.



After rehearsals have finished, there is a favourite yakitori restaurant the Shakespeare Company always goes to. It is a small shop called 'Kimura's' in Sendai's Bunka Yokochou. The inside has been stained by the smoke, and the atmosphere is without exception just as if it had come out of Saigan Ryouhei's comic 'San Chome no Yuuhi'.

The charm is ceaseless; the delicately cooked skewers of meat, the fact that the lady-owner resembles Hara Setsuko, the three tatami mat sized room on the second floor which makes you think about being a lodger. However, by far the greatest pull there is the length and quality of time we have spent there. Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, The Twelfth Night, Macbeth, As You Like It 'how many wonderful ideas have been given life here?' Whilst drinking here in this place, how many times have our hearts been sent racing as we visualised our dream of creating a new stage and theatre?


When Haruko was struck down by her illness, and after she had made her journey from this world to the next, I stopped going to Kimura's as if I had disappeared. My life now resembled that of 'Tasogare Seibei' and consisted no more than me coming home from University and spending the evening with my children. During the spring of last year, Iwazumi (Hamlet) and Hoshi (Ophelia) had to pull the company along whilst its director was away. And so, all the problems that would normally have been solved together at Kimura's accumulated. In order to give all that homeless energy an outlet of sorts, I decided to get everyone to meet at my place where we could discuss things whilst sat at the round table, after I had put the children to bed. 'Did Hamlet really love Ophelia?', 'Exactly to whom is this monologue directed?', 'What is the meaning of noble?' Iwazumi and Hoshi fired out their questions like arrows. I wonder how much courage was given to me by the extraordinary passion of these actors who are staking themselves on 'Hamlet'?



When I go home, I pick up the children and give them each a good helping of hugs. And then I leave them in the hands of the babysitter and go into my study. However, the three of them seen to get lonely easily and they visit me so frequently in my unlocked study that I can't get any work done. One day I said to each of them individually 'When Daddy is in this room, he is working so he would be pleased if you didn't disturb him.' After that, my two elder daughters stopped getting in the way of my work.


One day, I noticed little Hana poking her round face round the door and looking at me. 'Hana, what's wrong?' I inquired, and she toddled over to me and showed me the eraser that was in her tiny little hand. I had left this eraser in the living room. 'Why, Hana, thank you. You're such a good girl, Hana' I praised her, and her little face lit up. Alas, from that day on Hana's visits became a daily occurrence. Rubber bands, pencils, spectacles, mobile phone, newspaper..


Seeing her being so cute only made me feel guilty about shutting myself up in the study. And so, I decided to do my work on the large table in the living room which is decorated with Mum's photographs. How does it feel? I guess it's a bit like working in a kiosk on the platform of the ever busy Yamanote line. Lately though, I've come to realise that as they can see me, Umi, Solar and Hana are all able to play more freely.



When I was at the Globe Theatre in London, I spoke many times with the director Giles Block, but when it came to Hamlet, the normally taciturn Giles became talkative and told me abundantly about his preference for British actors to play Hamlet. Giles was with Michael York at Oxford University and above them was Richard Burton, and he would inform me that Burton's Hamlet was so incredibly brilliant, and how Derek Jacobi saw Burton's performance at the Old Vic Theatre and decided to become an actor, and how Kenneth Branagh saw Jacobi and was awakened to Shakespeare. Apparently Olivier was strongly conscious of Henry Irving, but it seems that the tradition of a British Hamlet is more a continuance of passion than of style.


If I was to be asked 'who had an influence on your Hamlet?' then I think I would answer Lyubimov. Why? It's because his way of thinking is so religious. The belief in the indestructibility of the soul ? that pervades his stage. As for actors, I think slightly influenced by Giles I would say Burton. Silent but strong. Whatever one may say, Burton's voice is just sexy!


On the 1st of October last year I celebrated my 50th birthday. On that morning, just as I was sadly thinking that as Haruko wasn't around there would be no presents for me, I found lying on my study desk a hand made letter from Umi. Upon opening the letter my eyes fell upon a picture of Mummy giving Daddy a present. In between Mummy and Daddy were drawn Umi, Solar and Hana, and all of us were looking happy. And, at the bottom the following was written. 'We love you Daddy. Happy 50th Birthday! We look forward to doing so many more wonderful things with you. Even though Mummy isn't here, it doesn't matter. Love from Hana, Solar, Mummy and Umi.' As I read this letter I instinctively broke into tears. And so, to this day the letter has a home in my breast pocket. This is simply because it is one of my most precious and dear possessions.


The strength and brightness Umi showed is something passed on from Haruko. If I was to be categorised, you could say I am a wimp, but Haruko was always sparklingly bright like a blue sky. Therefore, when I look up to a clear sky I remember Haruko. On one occasion I was lying on the grass with Umi and looking up at the sky I whispered something to the tune of 'just like a bird who's had its beloved blue sky snatched away, we can't fly on forever..' On doing so, Umi starts cackling and says to me 'What are you talking about? How about becoming a fish? And then you could swim in the sea!' It's at times like this when I get sentimental, I think that the way she laughs and the way she expresses herself is identical to Haruko. If I look really closely at Umi's face, I am sure that Haruko is living inside her. And I think that's why Umi believes from the heart without a single doubt that even though Mummy cannot be seen, she is alive and is always with her, Daddy and her younger sisters.


In answer to my thinking that my daughters and I should take up something new, Umi and myself have started horse riding, and Hana and Solar are taking singing lessons. Having a hobby in common is a good thing, and I have found that Umi talks a lot more with me about horses and the two younger girls are singing harmoniously together a lot. As a result, our house is always lively.


Today is the anniversary of Haruko's death a year ago. As far as 'Hamule' is concerned, the troupe kindly said 'Let's wait until Haruko's first anniversary is over before we start our performances' and so, at last we are making moves. It has been a very rocky and trouble-strewn path in creating 'Hamule'. Eventually, however, the curtain goes up full of opportunity.


Nowadays, I have many prayer-like thoughts. I hope each performance can end safe and sound; I hope the efforts of the actors reap their just rewards; I hope the thoughts of the troupe are able to swell up and move each and every member of the audience; and I hope many, many people will come and see us.


2006.1.27  Jimdoログアウト | 編集