[KineJapan] Benshi performance advice

Joshua Smith joshua at jaeff.org
Mon Feb 4 21:07:40 EST 2019

Dear Eija, Our first event at JAEFF was a screening of Page of Madness. London-based performer Tomoko Komura acted as benshi and did a fantastic job. She spoke in English and occasionally threw in some Japanese words.  There was a live improvised score by Clive Bell (Shakuhachi), Keiko Kitamura (Koto) and Sylvia Hallett (Keys/Electronics/Musical saw) - though they had rehearsed a few times together before the screening to lay down the basic arrangements. We wanted a contemporary feel whilst retaining some traditional elements. Tomoko, Clive and Slyvia have worked together before on a screening of Walk Cheerfully at the BFI. Tomoko and Clive were interviewed about the accompaniment here: https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b7279b69f The Page of Madness arrangement worked well and we had a positive response from the audience. You can listen to a snippet of the recording here: https://soundcloud.com/user-571313257/a-page-of-madness-live-rec-sample-24092017. Hope this helps! Best, Joshua ---- On Tue, 05 Feb 2019 07:17:07 +0900 Markus Nornes via KineJapan <kinejapan at mailman.yale.edu> wrote ---- I have programmed lots of benshi here, including a whole season of silent Ozu while Ichiro was a visiting artist one year.  I wouldn't recommend simultaneous. The best is when there is a subtitled setsumei onscreen. I know Ichiro has some. I am pretty sure that Matsuda Eigasha does as well.  I don't know about the others.  Someone told me that they have tried soft titling the setsumei and then projected the translation below the screen. But in both cases, as Aaron points out, it's not going to be perfect. I have also done some films that have only subtitled inter titles, which is how they are usually shown. No one knows what the benshi is really doing if they can't understand Japanese, but they still love the live performance.  For non-subtitled prints, I have handed out plot synopses, underlining key cues so audiences can follow important plot points. Again, the live performance is so wonderful that audiences are happy no matter what. Music is important. I've used a number of strategies.  I have had a local composer create a score for a small ensemble, had the same composer do a solo performance, had a local jazz fanatic and local radio jockey DJ a film using period 78s, and simply chosen an appropriate style of music on a CD and bounced around through the film.  Live is ideal. If you or anyone else wanted to bring out the band that I've worked with, they have amazing scores for I Was Born, But and Page of Madness. It's a toy band (Little Bang Theory), so all the instruments are toys. But the composer is a famous experimental musician. It's totally charming. Markus   ---  Markus Nornes Professor of Asian Cinema Department of Film, Television and Media, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Penny Stamps School of Art & Design Department of Film, Television and Media 6348 North Quad 105 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285 On Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 10:31 AM Gerow Aaron via KineJapan <kinejapan at mailman.yale.edu> wrote: _______________________________________________ KineJapan mailing list KineJapan at mailman.yale.edu https://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/kinejapan Dear Eija, Others can speak of their experiences, but we have had benshi performances at Yale a couple of times. The next one in fact is at the Kinema Club conference at the end of this month! When we have had Kataoka Ichiro, for instance, we show an English subtitled print or Kataoka-san uses a subtitled DVD he has of the film. It is not an exact translation of his speech, but given that he can and will change his talk from screening to screening, a translation is somewhat impossible. Simultaneous translation, as we all know, is rarely simultaneous. I think audiences still get a lot out of the voice acting and the kowairo. Kataoka-san performs all around the world, especially in Europe, so he will not break your budget, especially if you supply musical performance on your end (he does have an ensemble he tries to travel with). We’re having Makia Matsumura play the piano because she’s in NYC much of the time and has worked with Kataoka-san many times. Aaron > 2019/02/04 午前1:54、Eija Niskanen via KineJapan <kinejapan at mailman.yale.edu>のメール: > > I would like to get some advice re arranging a benshi performance outside of Japan. > How to do with the fact that benshi performs in Japanese, which the audience does not understand? Simultaneous video translation or how? > Costs? Support for event i.e. Japan Foundation? > > Best, > Eija > > -- > Eija Niskanen > > > _______________________________________________ > KineJapan mailing list > KineJapan at mailman.yale.edu > https://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/kinejapan _______________________________________________ KineJapan mailing list KineJapan at mailman.yale.edu https://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/kinejapan Joshua Smith Festival Director Japanese Avant-garde and Experimental Film Festival jaeff.org +44 (0)7735 514 079    +81 (0)70 1823 5642
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