Yamato pays homage to the Japanese tradition of Matsuri – the source of Japanese mythology and performing arts and the gathering that traditionally occurred whenever drums were played – through a powerful performance also reminiscent of contemporary rhythmic experimental theatre productions like Stomp or the Blue Man Group.
The performance varied from intense and thunderous group numbers to comedic musical vignettes, creating a smooth, fast-paced and lively tempo throughout the show. The performers were obviously world-class and the show was flawless, which was especially apparent in a number which required six drummers to play in perfect unison.
The vignettes were especially effective, combining “clown technique” (showing humor through physicality; not be confused with circus clowns – think gracefully awkward Lucille Ball, not Bozo the Clown) with flawless musical and comedic timing, to create a story told only through their movements and the rhythmic, musical beat. Every emotion was conveyed with just these two mediums.
This was a stunning example of choreographer and experimental theatre guru Mary Overlie’s Six Viewpoints (Space, Shape, Time, Emotion, Movement, and Story) working together to create a unified piece of art. While a performer may use one viewpoint and emphasize it successfully, this show had all of them working together in a masterful performance.
Yamato originated in 1993 in Asaku, Japan. The group began performing internationally in 1994, and won numerous accolades at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.