Noda narrates the utmost limits of love. The artist, who has continued to unveil unexplored worlds, has broken new ground.
BY NORIHIKO YONEHARA, PHOTOGRAPHS BY KISHIN SHINOYAMA, TRANSLATED BY MAKIKO HARAGA
Noda’s stance on the use of background music had not always been consistent. Since the early phase of his career, he had known that music has the power to immediately move the audience. While studying in London, however, Noda immersed himself in the British theater, where there was a strong tendency towards “language first, music out.” For about a decade after the year 2000, a little while after he returned from London, Noda had minimized the use of music. But music was a prerequisite of the production of “Q.” “I’ve previously explored the dangerous aspect of music, so I’m using music fully understanding its risks,” Noda says.
While he was crafting theplay, Noda held many workshops along with the actors including Takako Matsu,Takaya Kamikawa, Suzu Hirose, Jun Shison, and Naoto Takenaka, who had already been committed to joining the NODA MAP production. They had discussed and tried many different approaches, struggling to shape the scenes for each song. “We eventually felt that it would all be possible if we were to do two things at the same time. One is to cause anabolism between their music and our play, another is to cause catabolism by using music that has a feel contrary to the context of our play.” Noda wrote up a character relationships chart and a synopsis, which is made up of a story line with briefly noted lines and dialogues, as well as a chart showing the links to the song titles. He passed these things on to Queen, and they showed interest in the scheme. Brian May, the guitarist, sent a message saying that they were delighted. “I was deeply touched by his message,” Noda recalls. “It made me confident that they deeply understood what we were trying to create.”
Inspiration from the songs is evident in many of the scenes. “I created a scene where “Bohemian
Rhapsody” is played, but no words are spoken,” Noda says, adding that he was also inspired by the lyrics of “39.” “I felt the phrases like ‘Your mother’s eyes from your eyes,’ and ‘Write your letters in the sand’ would go well with our character profiles. I changed the line to ‘the writing in the white sand’ to be incorporated into our play,” he says. “It ended up being a kind of play that I probably have never written before. Especially, the second act seems like it. I have never crafted anything like this.” Apparently, Queen and Noda—celebrated artists—mutually brought in sparkling originality, taking a step forward into a new realm of fine arts.
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Othe people saw that Noda was enthusiastically writing the play, but what they didn’t know was the fact that while doing so he was thinking of a literary wizard —Yukio Mishima, who killed himself in 1970, when Noda was 14 years old. “The reason why people love ‘Romeo
& Juliet’ is that it tells a story of the ‘beautiful death’ of youth,” Noda says. “Our production (“Q”) is, in a sense, a blasphemy to the beautiful death of youth, so I wondered what Mishima would have to say if he were still alive.” The second act moves quickly to its destination, perhaps because Noda tried to repel — consciously or unconsciously — the apparition of Mishima.
In recent years, Noda has been enthusiastic about bringing his productions, like “THE BEE,” to theaters outside Japan. Amid growing acclaim, it has become more likely that “Q” will go to the West.
Hideki Noda, empowered by Queen, is now working with his energy at full throttle.
“Q: A Night At The Kabuki,” NODA MAP’s 23rd production
CAST：Takako Matsu, TakayaKamikawa, Suzu Hirose, Jun Shison, Satoshi Hashimoto, Kazushige Komatsu, KayoIse, Aki Hano, Hideki Noda, and Naoto Takenaka.