Takahime was a unique collaboration between ANÚNA and a Nō Theatre company in Tokyo's Orchard Hall. Involving a full Nō troupe performing in one of Japan’s most significant venues, Orchard Hall, the presentation was an enormously complex presentation and included a full score created by Michael McGlynn. The performance took place on February 16th 2017 and was produced by Plankton.
“To create something that involved considerable improvisation and both interaction and sympathetic understanding of one of the highest theatrical art forms on the planet was a massive challenge. I think that this was the “coming of age” event for ANÚNA and it will remain with me as the most significant moment of my artistic career as a composer. It is a true fusion of two superficially disconnected cultures, but I think we managed to do something truly astonishing without compromising in any way on the basic foundations of Nō or the ethos of ANÚNA itself. Japanese and Celtic peoples have very old and refined cultures, and though we have to cherish them, we should develop them too in radical ways.”
Nō is a Japanese dramatical form that dates back to the14th century. The Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ 1917 play “At the Hawk’s Well” was inspired by Nō and this Japanese version, Takahime (“The Hawk Princess”), was created and premiered in1967.
Takahime tells the story of the Hawk Princess who guards a magical spring, The Old Man and Cú Chulainn the great Irish hero of mythology. Both the male characters wish to drink from it to obtain eternal life.
The great Nō actor and designated Living National Treasure, Umewaka Rokuro Gensho, was McGlynn’s co-director and played the part of the Hawk Princess in the production.
“I think (ANÚNA’s singing) and Nō are similar in both being abstract arts, so we have no need to hesitate and can just make all the creative sparks we wish. Before now in this piece, I have played the princess, the old man and a rock. In my opinion, the princess is a symbol of eternity, but you can interpret the meaning of The Old Man or Cú Chulainn or the rocks around the spring in several ways. This time, I dance behind the scrim (open-weave) curtain in the first scene, then gradually appear in front of the audience.”
The cast also included Yoshimasa Kanze as the the old man, and Cú Chulainn was performed by Norishige Yamamoto. The ensemble cast included a chorus (“The Rocks”) and instrumentalists including flute, and a hip, shoulder and taiko drum.