Tatsu Aoki Presents Reduction at the MCA

November 25, 2016
Stories

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community; a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms; and a filmmaker and educator. Aoki is founder and artistic director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and president of San Francisco–based Asian Improv Records (AIR). Aoki was named one of 2001’s "Chicagoans of the year" by the Chicago Tribune. The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts, and in 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the Living in our Culture award from the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and Jazz Heroes Award from the National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. From December 13 - 19, Tatsu speaks, performs, and sponsors various culturally cutting edge works at the MCA. On December 17 at 7:30PM, Tatsu performs in "Reduction", a creative response to the popular taiko drumming stripped of its musical elements. Tatsu speaks to his role in "Reduction" in this installment of What's Your Story.

What's your personal story?
I came from Japan in the late '70's from traditional performing family known as geisha. I trained in Tokyo style geisha music. I came to Chicago to study experimental film and play music with legends!! 

What story are you telling in Reduction?
It is a reconstruction of my music life and the works of Gintenkai Theatre, the troupe I was in from the early '70's to my coming to the States. The works contain my core aesthetics of my music and arts and feel it is important to preserve that tradition as a member of the Asian American community. 

What challenges do you face telling this story? 
This version is much more personalized than the previous 3 shows. I added a special part to talk about my life and evolution of the music I play. 

Any other comments?
The musicians and dancers play real important rolls in this piece. They are cool, and way too cool!!

(Image Credits: Tsukasa Taiko, Reduction Photo: Ken Carl)

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing theatreboxoffice@depaul.edu. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. 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Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park
11/13/2017