This spring, it was my pleasure to collaborate with performers Aki Takahashi and Tetsuya Kudaka in a short production entitled Mitsuki for the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest, which is held at the University of Toronto every year. The performance was a great deal of fun to do as well as organize. It was also the fortunate culmination of good timing and good luck. Never in a thousand years could I have imagined that the three of us would be awaiting our set, over a plate of dumplings in Chinatown.
When I was originally approached by my former professor with regard to the performance, I happily accepted the offer, but it wasn’t until a few weeks had passed that in the course of managing other affairs, I managed to secure the commitments of both Aki and Tetsuya, who as performers of their own right, would normally be challenging to get – but Tetsuya being based in Japan, would normally have been off limits.
As it turned out, Tetsuya has been working for some time in Canada as part of another production and in these endeavors, he’s been able to visit Toronto a few times. It just so happened that his next rehearsal in Canada would permit him to visit me here in Toronto just in time to join our show, before he was scheduled to fly out to Quebec to join his production there.
Mitsuki, as the show was entitled means March – the month in which the event took place – in old Japanese, but can also be interpreted as ‘three trees’. In Japanese art and culture there is a concept of ‘three trees’: pine, bamboo and plum blossom tree – that are seen to each represent a certain virtue and combine to be a symbol of good fortune. As our performance included three of us, well, things just seemed to line up well and so it became the acting title of our production.
With Aki adding her shamisen and vocal talents to the show, Tetsuya, with his talent for taiko and dance, and my humble piping – for a relatively small production we were able to exhibit several distinct styles of taiko, music and dance.
I think I speak for the Mitsuki team when I say, it was a great pleasure to perform at this event and it was a chance to put together a very unique team.
I’d like to offer my gratitude to the committee member(s) of the speech contest, whose ongoing correspondence and technical support made this possible. And of course, to Aki Takahashi and Tetsuya Kudaka, for their talents and time.