Shizuka Hariu

between the Imaginary and the Concrete

Copyright ©Shizuka HARIU 2015

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News Article Written on Skin at Vogue Japan
https://www.vogue.co.jp/lifestyle/news/2019-07-20/georgebenjamin

Interview about Written on Skin in Bachtrack
https://bachtrack.com/interview-shizuka-hariu-written-on-skin-suntory-hall-july-2019

Suntory Hall Written on Skin
https://www.suntory.co.jp/suntoryhall/schedule/detail/20190829_M_3.html

This is some notes for Written on Skin,

The plot of derives from the 13th-century French novel Le Coeur mangé, written by Guillem de Cabestany. The original story, as I understand it, is more concentrated on the topic of love triangles, whereas Written on Skin gives us time- and space-travelling through the music on top of this twisted love story.

I read Martin Crimp’s libretto several times in order to direct a film for Suntory Hall’s stage. The story contains such rich and complex metaphors and it goes beautifully alongside George Benjamin’s music.

First, I interpreted the metaphoric narrative lines, such as the time- and space -travelling, the political situation, women’s rights, religion, the power of man, hierarchy in society, supernatural angels, and illuminated art in Medieval times. Next, I wanted to visualise these metaphors within my creative direction.

These complex narrative elements are composed by short selected words.

It is almost like reading Haiku, where we imagine and interpret between the lines and Benjamin’s impactful music transports us naturally from scene to scene.

This is one of the most difficult set designs in my 15-year career because it has to respect both the design of the concert hall and needs of the opera.

Designing scenography with an orchestra in mind is a challenge.
Maestro Kazushi Ono and the producer Shirakawa asked me to create a film on the stage that can provide limitless scenery for spectators, so I had to find a way of making my set design abstract and nothing too concrete so to avoid duplicating what is
seen on film.

I would like to make this film as concrete and real for the architectural environment as possible, although the nature scenes are more abstract, allowing the audience space to imagine and feel the harmony between the lines of the opera.
Besides that, I was challenged to depict contemporary spaces to show clearly that Agnès travels between Medieval and contemporary times. Film makes this possible, whereas it is harder to express this idea on stage; therefore we are working with both physical scenography and digital film.

Suntory Hall has a strong reputation for providing high quality concerts, so the audience will enjoy seeing how Maestro Kazushi Ono’s music direction alongside my scenography. Opera houses place the maestro and orchestra below stage level in the pit, so seeing both the music direction and creative direction should fulfil audiences both acoustically and visually.

I hope many people can come and enjoy this new version of Written on Skin!

Composition : George Benjamin

Script : Martin Crimp

Director of Music & Maestro Kazushi Ono

Creative Direction & Designs Shizuka Hairu
( Film Direction, Choreography, Stage & Set, Costum, Lighitng Design)

Opera solists
Protector Andrew Schroeder
Agnes Susanne Elmark
Boy / Angel 1 Daichi Fujiki
Marie / Angel 2 Yuka Kobayashi
John / Angel 3 John Ken Nuzzo

Camera Shooting Direction: Florent Herry
Narrative based research: Yuriko Ono
Editing & Special Effects: Christophe Clarey

Choreography and Performers in the film
Agnes: Yumiko Funaya
Boy/Angel 1: Piet Defrancq
Protector: Lucius Romeo-Fromm
Marie/ Agnes body double: Maya Wilsens
Angel 3: Louis Lefebvre

Choreography and Performers on the stage
Choreogrpahy, Stage performer: Yasuyuki Endo
Choreogrpahy, Stage performer: Fukiko Takase

Set Design and Production assistant: Shin Hagiwara
Opera background research: SHSH Architecture + Scenography
Assistant for the camera inside: Bruno Geiregat
Assistant for camera outside: Selcen Ergun, Nicolas Frament, Gabriel Sapropro
Costume Supervisor: Carmel Peritore
Assistant Props: Miku Enomoto and Sachiyo Honda
Production assistant: Maya Wilsens
Assitant at locaitons: Tamaki Haryu, Miku Enomoto, Aki Hasegawa

Locations and special thanks to
Erasmus House & Beguinage, 1070 Brussels
DOCKS BRUXSEL -SHOPPING DISTRICT
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Hemelvaartkerk / Church of Our Lady Damme
Hallerbos Forest