By Jason Rabin
Expansive curiosity and openness has made Japanese-born actor, director, writer, translator and adaptor Yoshi Oïda an ideal collaborator for British-born stage legend, Peter Brook. Since Oda, a student of philosophy and traditional Japanese theatre, joined Brook’s International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris over four decades ago, the two have explored mutual passions for myth-based epics, modernist minimalism, and for investigating theatre’s meaning across cultures.
In an introduction to Interrogations, a work Oïda created based upon Zen texts, he writes, “During the early 1960s, I traveled the world with Peter Brook’s experimental company, encountering audiences of every type and culture, in Iran, Africa, and the USA, as well as in Europe. Always asking key questions: “What is Theatre?”, “What is an Actor?”, “What is the relationship between the actor and the public?” Over the years the company attempted to construct a theatre that was vibrant and direct, a theatre that united the performers and the audience. As Peter Brook stated, “an empty space,” where every element – object, gesture, sound – stimulated the imagination and allowed the audience its own role in the creative process.
Oïda originated roles in all of the most celebrated productions of the Theatre Bouffes du Nord. He has directed works based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead and The Divine Comedy,as well as works by Beckett and Camus and several operas. He has received two distinctions in arts from Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and from Officier des Arts et des Lettres.
Here’s a clip of Oïda in Interrogations.
Photograph by Pascal Victor