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The BeSeTo of three worlds

by Maho Kawabe

The roots of Japanese folk music are being brought back to life with a modern twist at the BeSeTo Theatre Festival.

One of the festival’s programs is “Gya Tei Gya Tei — Ikumonoyo, Sarumonoyo,” which translates as “To those going, those going away.” It is a Japanese performance featuring shomyo (Buddhist ritual music). Shomyo is the root of many Japanese folk-music styles such as yokyoku and joruri.

Tadashi Suzuki, one of the founders of the BeSeTo festival back in 1994, constructed the stage for the programs. Suzuki is well-known for creating the Suzuki Method of Actor Training. His book “The Way of Acting” is one of his most influential.

Also participating in “Gya Tei Gya Tei” is internationally renowned percussionist Midori Takada. Takada will perform by herself and with Samgha, a shomyo group, who will back her with vocals. Takada will use modern instruments to give the traditional ritual music a new spin. Samgha will perform in purplish houi (traditional Buddhist costume).

The BeSeTo festival was founded by artists from China, South Korea and Japan, with the aim of promoting friendship between them. BeSeTo stands for the three nations’ respective capital cities: Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.

Each nation will present their own culture-based program and performances will include actors from each of the three countries.

Additionally, the famous Grimm Brothers’ fairy-tale “Show White” will be performed trilingually with completely original music and intriguing stage art.

The 17th BeSeTo Theatre Festival continues through to July 25. “Gya Tei Gya Tei — Ikumonoyo, Sarumonoyo” will be performed July 2-3 at New National Theatre, Tokyo. Admission is ¥2,500-¥3,500. For more details, call BeSeTo Theatre Festival at (03) 3445-8011 or visit www.beseto.org/17th/