Pablo Picasso wrote Desire Caught by the Tail in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1941, four years after completing Guernica. Like his paintings, his words overflow with abstract and poetic images, depicting the ridiculous conversations and actions of comical, metaphorical characters “Tart” and “Big Foot.” The play’s premiere took place in the spring of 1944 with the occupation still in effect, held as a secret reading in a room in Michel Leiris’s apartment. With Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir as the actors and Albert Camus as the director, it figured as an assembly of the cultural figures who had dedicated themselves to the French Resistance.
Director and playwright Takashi Shima, who usually works with Marebito Theater Company, will bring Picasso’s words to Tokyo 80 years later. From his direction notes: “Picasso depicted neither those who criticized the administration, nor all of the people who were living in misery. No, I feel very strongly that he was depicting the desires of the people who lived under those conditions – or otherwise, perhaps this piece represents his own attempt to reach out to someone. What does “resistance” mean to us? We have no understanding of that kind of oppression and unfreedom.” When his play is read aloud as if to trace those explosive images, mimicking Picasso’s touch, how will “our desires” whirl through the air, and where will they land?
Tokyo, 2019. An aphrodisiac splashes into our day-to-day routines, creating a ripple effect across the city – someone is reading aloud from a script. Introducing Reading Performances.
Reading a script aloud is theater’s most basic activity, accessible to all – not only actors. There are, however, surprisingly few people who have actually read an entire play out loud from beginning to end. If one were to do so now, then – somewhere in Tokyo as it awaits the Olympics – where should one read and whose words should one choose?
We posed this question to three directors. In this series, which is titled Reading Performances, cold readings of the plays these directors have proposed will be held in specific locations by a variety of participants: no special preparations, no rehearsals, thrown together randomly, just reading aloud from the words in the script. Written in the past, how will these words be transformed in the here and now by passing through the bodies of those who live in Tokyo in 2019? The times and places selected for these modest readings will figure as aphrodisiacs, creating ripple effects in the city’s day-to-day routines.
Takashi Shima was born in Akita prefecture. Following his graduation from Kyoto University of Art and Design as a major in Film Production and Performing Arts, he has worked as a director, playwright, and actor. Since 2009, he has regularly participated as an actor in Marebito Theater Company. He also served as the playwright for Marebito Theater Company’s Performing Fukushima, performed at Festival/Tokyo in 2017 and 2018. Since 2014, Shima has been developing the My Sick Dancing Girl Project in his home prefecture, Akita.
Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain in 1881 and passed away in 1974. His creative activities in France cemented him as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Picasso was the founder of Cubism, and, in addition to his artwork, which spanned oil painting, drawing, printmaking, illustration, sculpture, ceramics, and more, also created stage designs, poems, and plays. His masterpiece Guernica (1937), which depicted the circumstances of the Spanish civil war, is one of the most famous antiwar artworks in the world.
March 1st [Fri] / 19:00
March 7th [Thu] / 19:00
March 9th [Sat] 13:00 *Additional Performance / 17:00
approx. 120 min.
Each performance is limited to 20 people (exceptions for special cases aside, everyone present will be given part of the play to read)
Keio University Mita Campus, Ex Noguchi Room
2-15-45 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8345
How to Participate
Booking essential. Show general admission pass on entry.
Concept and Direction｜Takashi Shima
Written by Pablo Picasso
Venue support｜Keio University Art Center etc.
Post-performance talk by the three artists participating in Reading Performances
Date: March 10th, following the 14:00 performance
Venue: Keio University Mita Campus, Ex Noguchi Room
Number of places: approx. 50
Show general admission pass on entry (first come, first served)