"Indian director Sankar Venkateswaran’s contemporary rendering of Ōta Shōgo’s The Water Station is riveting and has compelled me to write again about Ōta’s masterpiece. I will give a brief description of Venkateswaran’s program in Japan, a contextualization of the Water Station, and the significance of silence and pyschophysicality in his pursuit of an aesthetic of quietude.
... Notable among recent Water Station productions is the 2015 Nordland Theatre production in Norway, referencing the then current refugee crisis in Europe. The director Phillip Zarrilli comments, “The Water Station is an artistic response to the age-old realities for peoples across the world of migration—those seeking refuge, fleeing persecution, and/or those returning ‘home’ after long-term conflicts”. The journeying image is the common pattern, whose details depend on the viewer’s own experience, knowledge, and perspective. What then does Venkateswaran connote?
His version can certainly be plotted on the developmental line of migration and a contemporary politics of quietude, where silenced or self-silenced people try to find a new home. He also states his larger artistic purpose is “to start a new journey in theatre dealing with the caste system and challenge Indian society through intercultural theatre”. He wishes to end othering and dismantle artificial barriers.
... Venkateswaran demonstrated the psychophysical training appropriate for his dramaturgy of silence. A graduate of the Theatre Training and Research Programme (the present ITI, Intercultural Theatre Institute), he has been steeped in founder Kuo Pao Kun’s vision of intercultural exchange “producing critically and socially engaged artists who make original, contemporary theatre”."
The Water Station by Ōta Shōgo (review)
Author: Mari Boyd
Publisher: Asian Theatre Journal, Volume 35, Number 1, 2018, University of Hawai'i Press