Naomi Iizuka's Language of Angels, which opens at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center March 25th, is described as a play that draws on the ancient traditions of Japanese Noh theatre, wherein a Japanese ghost story is transported to the caves and country of North Carolina.
Director and IU professor of movement in the Department of Theatre and Drama Adam Noble sat down in the WFIU studios along with actors Stephanie Mieko Cohen and Kyle Hendricks to talk about the production.
Conveying A Level 10 Emotion With Level 7 Expression
Adam Noble's training in the Suzuki style of movement is especially pertinent for the stylized Language of Angels. "As training, [the Suzuki method] is a fine support for the actor in terms of the identification with the body and with the voice. At the same time, there is an emphasis on a certain reservation for realism. People seldom bare their souls. It's important for an actor to sense that though she's feeling a '10,' she should show perhaps a â7.'"
Brown County theater-goers may remember Stephanie Mieko Cohen as one of the contestants in The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. In The Language of Angels she plays a ghost.
"It might seem that a vigorous physical approach like Adam's wouldn't work, but really to play ghost effectively for the audience you actually need to have your feet pretty firmly on the ground. Also, because Angels plays with time, with sequences, reversing our practice of a slow pace really helps."
During the show Cohen also sings a mystical lyric set by IU ethnomusicology grad student Peter Ermey.
A Physical Basis For A Character That's Anything But Ghostly
Kyle Hendricks describes his character, Billy, as "the town's bad boy." Recently he appeared at IU in Take Me Out playing a rambunctious, Mohawk-sporting ball player. Hendricks is also a fan of Noble's physically based approach.
"Too many actors work from the neck up. The things that you do with your body-the gestures, the way you stand, how you walk-they're all so important. I have to say, I've never been as deep in a character as I am in this production."