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It’s Just Me, Coughing & Yokohama Stay | The Studios

The Studios, a three month long summer program organized by the Esplanade, aims to bridge the distance between artist and audience and blur the lines between art and life. Aptly titled ‘Closer’, the series of performances presented all revolve around a central theme of intimacy, and explores the different facets and presentations of theatre.


The double-bill ‘It’s Just Me, Coughing’ and ‘Yokohama Stay’ by Zan Yamashita of Japan combines creative choreography and startlingly profound verse in explicating the inevitability of human nature and the relationship between our minds and bodies. ‘It’s Just Me, Coughing’ utilizes the free-form haiku poems of Housai Ozaki, and splices them in between dance movements that lift freely from the motions that we ascribe daily life. For example, actions such as getting up and lying down, putting your feet in the air, and yes, coughing, are repeated until they begin to evoke an air of nauseating absurdity, and brings us to perceive day-to-day routines under an artistic context. This in turn allows us to reflect on our lives on a larger scale than we can hope to achieve on our own. The haikus of Housai Ozaki, on the other hand, represent the limitless distances that the human mind traverses, but are ultimately still subverted by an inopportune cough that passes through the actor’s body and disrupts his, and by extension, the audience’s train of thought. We are brought back to solid ground and the mind once again succumbs to the immediate concerns that plague the body.


In ‘Yokohama Stay’, Zan assumes the role of a frenzied narrator, spitting out lines and lines of instructions that are executed by Singaporean dancer Vincent Yong. It is hard to establish a correlation between speech and movement. Each performer moves with such conviction, and are so utterly absorbed in their own roles that it almost makes me wonder if they would notice if the other one had simply stopped and fallen off the stage. Yet, there were also moments when the dancer and narrator came together and moved in cohesiveness, and that is when you realize what the purpose of the performance is– to show how natural speech and movement can be, and how thoughtless. It is precisely from this thoughtlessness that we can convey what we want in the most accurate and convincing way.


Not only were Yamashita’s performances engaging and stimulating, it also allows the audience to interpret it individually. For instance, ‘It’s Just Me, Coughing’ can be taken to represent a day in the life, or the life of a person in its entirety. ‘Yokohama Stay’ can represent the union between speech and movement, or the subjugation of one over the other. This subjectivity allows the performance means something different, and personal, to each viewer.


The Studios runs til 10th of September 2011. Tickets for the performances ‘Paper Boat’, ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and ‘Gunpowder Trail’ are still available. For more information, visit their website.


– Yishu

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