Told By The Wind

Start date: October 2009
End date: September 2010
Principal Investigator: Professor Phillip Zarrilli

In this practice-led research project, a director/actor, dancer/choreographer/performance artist, and playwright/dramaturg will create a new piece of intercultural, post-dramatic theatre - TOLD BY THE WIND. Drawing inspiration from a variety of traditional and contemporary sources from both East and West, such as Japanese noh and butoh, and the work of such contemporary playwrights/performance makers as Samuel Beckett, Tadeusz Kantor and Heiner Müller, this project will examine how to create a performance that draws from diverse cultural traditions, and is experimental or "post-dramatic" in its structure and dramaturgy. The production of TOLD BY THE WIND will be used to reflect anew on theatre that is made between cultures and that involves alternative dramaturgies.

Theatre that 'dances' an inner landscape.
Stories evoked and told by embodied silences.
Identity, memory, and remembrance haunt transformation.
...inspired by East Asian and post-dramatic aesthetics...
...informed by quietude, precision, and simplicity...

Two figures, two lives, multiple time spaces: TOLD BY THE WIND is a new performance of movement and text that ‘dances’ an inner landscape. Inspired by East Asian and ‘post-dramatic’ aesthetics, stories are evoked and told by embodied silences, splintered interactions, and slowed down motion.

Transformative and multi-layered, TOLD is informed by Japanese Theatre of Quietude and String Theory [Quantum physics]. Intimate and meditative, it is a requiem for the unseen; a poignant duet for two figures who never physically meet.

Told by the Wind premiered at Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff,
29th January 2010.

Created by Kaite O'Reilly, Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli
Artistic Consultants Mari Boyd (Tokyo) and Peader Kirk (London)
Lighting designer Ace McCarron
Cast Jo Shapland, Phillip Zarrilli

Photos (c) Ace McCarron, 2010


The Guardian, Elisabeth Mahoney, Feb 2 2010

Told By the Wind****

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Stripped of most ­elements we ­associate with drama, this intense ­meditation in movement revels in stillness. It's so still at times, you worry that scratching your head or crossing your legs will be audible to all. Performers Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli, with writer Kaite O'Reilly, draw on Asian aesthetics, string theory and the Japanese theatre of quietude to present something that is beyond linear narrative, character and gripping plot twists.
Instead, they offer fragments of memory, speech and gestures, composed in moments that have a haunting, painterly beauty to them. A man and a woman are on stage together at all times, but never connect; he speaks a little, tugged at by the past, she remains silent, trying to form words but expressing herself physically as she shuffles, runs and dances in bare soil.
With no dialogue or fathomable action to follow, you try to make connections even though everything resists them. Is she in the memory he speaks of? Is she a character in the music he is writing, or the dance he appears to choreograph? What happens, slowly, is that those nagging questions subside and a calmer understanding emerges. It's all very hypnotic, with repeated small movements and shards of sentences, and it has the astringent purity of a haiku poem, though haiku seems positively wordy in comparison.
The performers have a remarkable presence, even when their movement is barely perceptible. This is a challenging production, but oddly affecting and quietly cleansing. On the opening night, the audience lingered at the end, as if not wanting to head back out into the noisy, demanding world.

British Theatre Guide
Allison Vale
February, 2010

Compelling and emotionally charged

By Kaite O' Reilly
Sherman Cymru, Cardiff, and touring

I'll be honest. I'm a fan of traditional, narrative theatre. I like being part of a passive audience, soaking up a damn fine plot, executed by fully developed characters. I enjoy the security of the alternative reality they create.
I'm not an advocate of 'Death to the Author'; I'm generally not drawn to post-modern theatre.

So sitting in Chapter's beautifully re-vamped foyer, waiting to be let in to Told By The Wind at 8pm on the dot, I braced myself as I read that I was to be treated to an evening of "post-dramatic aesthetics…String Theory and Japanese Theatre of Quietude". Frankly, I wasn't at all sure I wanted to be compelled to find my own meaning and significance in "embodied silences, splintered interactions and slowed-down motion".

In fact Told By the Wind is easily the most hypnotic piece theatre I have experienced. The extraordinary poise and perfection in the movement, texting and staging of this piece makes for a beautifully contemplative sixty minutes.
Kaite O'Reilly's hauntingly poetic snatches of text ripple through the piece, adding texture without informing plot or character. The slow, silent grace of this play without dialogue, this ballet without music, makes the experience of sitting in the audience a wholly introspective one.

Theatre Wales
Michael Kelligan
March 9, 2008

The Llanarth Group, Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, January 31, 2010

This is a kind of kinetic work of fine art, though the painter works alone, here the work has arisen from a symbiosis of three very experienced and deeply sensitive artists working in perfect harmony from the inception of the project to its presentation.

A man, not young, in crumbled clothes sits at an old white bureau. He is looking out through a window, the coming of autumn troubles him, he recalls he is not comfortable walking with the dew on the ground. He turns his head inwards, he may be looking for the younger woman who is sitting at the other side of the stage, She turns her head, she may be looking for him. As the wind gently blows forward their movements intermingle. They never meet. Did they know each other once? Are they yearning for each other? Are they just figures passing by in the evening light?

Writer Kaite O’Reilly and performers Phillip Zarrilli and Jo Shapland have invited another consummate artist to enable them to complete their landscape. Lighting designer Ace McCarron paints the stage pictures with a delicate warm autumn gold complementing the dreamlike quality of the action. The long quiet stillness of the opening sequence has us questioning it in the early moments but very soon we are captivated, mesmerised we, well for me anyway I was drawn into a dream like state and I shared my dream with the figures on the stage before me completely drawn into an aesthetic inspired by Japanese Theatre of Quietude.

They were able to evoke so much emotion with such simplicity. Zarrilli elegantly stumbled in the light whilst Shapland ran and danced with spirited elegance. There might well be a touch of Svengali and Trilby, but with only benign influences here. Jo Shapland, multi-disciplinary artist, choreographer, and performer trained with Zarrrilli for ten years. Phillip Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical process through Asian martial/meditation arts. He runs a private studio (Tyn-y-parc C.V.N. Kalari/Studio) in Wales, and conducts workshops throughout the world. His latest highly acclaimed publication: Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski is now regarded as essential reading for everyone working and exploring this field.

Kaite O’Reilly is one of Wales’ most successful playwrights. She is now working on a new version of Aeschylus’ Persians to be directed by Mike Pearson for the National Theatre of Wales in August.