Miki Nakatani and Mikhail Baryshnikov in US Premiere of Yasushi Inoue’s “The Hunting Gun”
Emanuela Barilla presents the U.S. premiere of Yasushi Inoue’s The Hunting Gun from March 16 – April 15, 2023 (Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2pm) at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jerome Robbins Theater. Adapted for the stage by Serge Lamothe and directed byFrançois Girard, The Hunting Gun is a two-hander starring Miki Nakatani as Shoko, Midori, and Saiko and Mikhail Baryshnikov as Josuke Misugi.
Josuke Misugi receives three letters from different women: his wife, his mistress and her daughter. The first is from young Shoko, who just discovered her mother’s affair through the reading of her diary. The second is from his wife Midori, revealing she’s known about the infidelity from the start. And the third is a farewell from Saiko, his lover of thirteen years: “By the time you read this, I will no longer be among the living.”
Weaving these three viewpoints with consummate skill, one of Japan’s most celebrated authors Yarushi Inoue gives universal resonance to Misugi’s demise. He turns what could have been the mundane account of adultery into a compelling love story that is considered a classic of world literature.
This stage adaptation is a monologue for three voices, and a single actress embodies all three women, transforming before our eyes. At the end of her letter, Shoko drops her school uniform to reveal Midori’s exuberant outfit who, in turn, undresses to slip into Saiko’s funeral kimono.
Behind a scrim presenting fragments of letters, the increasingly tormented hunter Josuke Misugi cleans his gun. He seems to exist in a different time space. The simple action he performs, which would normally take only a few minutes, is stretched through the entire duration of the play: picking up his gun in ultra-slow-motion, inspecting it, meticulously cleaning its barrels and finally standing to aim at his wife’s back.
Borrowing from Japanese Zen aesthetics, the set’s floor is successively draped with three fundamental elements: water, stone, and wood. After Shoko wanders in a lily pond, the waters withdraw to reveal a terrain of smooth black stones. Then, at the climax of Midori’s rage, the stones magically vanish to expose a wooden deck on which Saiko recites her suicide letter.
The Hunting Gun was originally produced by Parco Theatre, Tokyo and Danièle de Fontenay (Usine C, Montreal). It received three Yumiori Awards and two Kinokunya Awards, including two for Best Theatre Production and two for Best Actress.
Born in Riga, Latvia and living in New York City, Mikhail Baryshnikov has distinguished himself as an extraordinary dancer and performer in theater, television and film. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he has worked with George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and many other illustrious choreographers and directors. From 1979-1989 he was artistic director of American Ballet Theater where, for the next decade, he introduced a new generation of dancers and choreographers. From 1990-2002, Mr. Baryshnikov was director and principal dancer of the White Oak Dance Project, co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris. In 2005, he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), a creative space designed to support multidisciplinary artists from around the globe.
Miki Nakataniwas born in Tokyo in January 1976 and started her career in 1993. She has won six Japan Academy Prizes for her work: Best Supporting Actress for When the Last Sword Is Drawn (2003), Best Leading Actress for Memories of Matsuko (2006), Best Leading Actress for Jigyaku NoUta (2007), Best Supporting Actress for Zero Focus (2009) Best Actress Award for Hankyu Railway -A 15 Minute Miracle (2011), and Best Supporting Actress in a Leading Role for Ask This of Rikyu (2013). In 2011, she made her debut as a stage actress in The Hunting Gun at USINEC, Montreal. In the same year, she staged a return performance in Japan, winning the Kinokuniya Theatre Award Actress of the Year and the Yomiuri Theatre Awards for Best Actress. The following year, she won the Yomiuri Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance in Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon.
Tickets for The Hunting Game are $35, $70, $100 & $150. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.thehuntinggun.org/.