Speaking in Tongues
June 7 - 9, 2019

“Oh what a tangled web we weave…” Seven little words, part of a longer phrase whose latter part is rarely voiced. Why? Because, even though these words were written centuries ago, we all understand, tacitly, what comes next; “…when first we practice to deceive.” We know these words well because, when you get right down to it, (and while we don’t like to admit it) aren’t we all guilty of succumbing to their allure? We are all human after all, aren’t we?

Oh what a tangled web, indeed.

Two married couples set out to cheat on their spouses. A man encounters his long-lost fiancée on a bus. A woman disappears in the middle of the night, betrayed by her husband. These seemingly unrelated events are the threads that weave together Speaking in Tongues, a modern-day tale of fractured love and connection. This dramatic work is much like a piece of abstract art, that when seen too closely, may seem disjointed, unconnected. It’s not until one steps back and surveys the canvas as a whole that the characters and events come together to create a powerful and memorable masterpiece cleverly woven together by a master seamstress. It is upon this dramatic canvas that Theatre Iridescence (TI) adds its signature twists and turns of plot. 

With TI, founder Aya Kawakami aims to create a platform for artists from both Nagoya’s Japanese and international scenes, allowing them to collaborate and create unique works and projects that are a fusion of not only different artistic approaches, but also diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In TI’s adaptation of Speaking in Tongues, two versions of the same play are being directed. This is not only innovative and groundbreaking, it may set a precedent for future theatre productions in and around Nagoya, much to the benefit of an ever-growing multicultural audience.

Originally written by Andrew Bovell, Speaking in Tongues was first performed in 1996. His story digs deep, uncovering the fragility of human connections and the fear of being honest, especially with oneself. Imagine this piece as a symphony where each actor must add their voice in perfect harmony to the other. These characters are real. You will feel like you already know them. And that is because you do. They are your neighbor. They are your best friend. They are your family. They are you.

In a word, they are… human.

Version I comes to you in English, with an international cast led by Australian director Michael Walker, well-known for his past productions in Nagoya. Many established members of Nagoya’s English theatre scene will be on stage, including James Venema and Ritchie Croan, alongside two women renowned for their previous strong leading roles in past years, Leah Turner and Aya Kawakami. It wouldn’t be a TI production without a forceful musical influence. James Ovenden, not only an actor on stage in a thoughtful leading role, is also composer to the rich and intense music that ties the scenes together.

Version II features an all-star Japanese cast directed by a local veteran of the Japanese theatre scene, Kuninari Kawase, an integral part of previous TI productions. The Japanese cast takes on the challenge of interpreting a piece written by a Western writer and making it their own, not only in cultural nuance, but in language as well. 

How will these two casts and directors interpret, each from their own unique cultural perspective, the same material? Theatre Iridescence would like to encourage the audience to consider viewing both versions to understand fully the outcome. While both productions are complete and stand confidently on their own, it is again much like that piece of abstract art. To be able to see a work of art from many different perspectives allows the one viewing it a more intense and thoughtful experience. An incentive for viewers to see both productions of the show is in the 1000 yen discount provided if ticket stubs from both Version I and Version II are presented to the TI box office. Audience members can choose any day and time to see the versions they wish, and, after viewing their second show, simply present both ticket stubs for 1000 yen cash back.

With Speaking in Tongues, Theatre Iridescence shines a light on the human condition, offering a mirror for you, the audience member, to peer into. And you do know what you see when you look into a mirror, don’t you?

Join the two casts and directors for one unforgettable theatre experience. 


Speaking in Tongues
will be showing
at Chikusa Playhouse
(Fukiage Station, Exit 7)
on the following dates:

June 7th (Fri)
15:30 Japanese
18:30 English

June 8th (Sat)
12:00 Japanese
15:00 English
18:00 Japanese

June 9th (Sun)
11:00 English
14:00 Japanese
17:00 English

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