POWER 2: interview with Kaoru Matsushita
MISCELLANEOUS Productions is a Vancouver-based community-engaged arts organization pioneering new frontiers in performance, art and new media and merging them with community development and popular culture, with a particular focus on youth and intercultural dynamics.
Founded in 2000 by Elaine Carol, Jules Rochielle and a community-based board of directors, the company is a vehicle for diverse collaborative and solo artistic projects including performances, screenings of media works and visual art exhibitions with a goal of making art accessible for both audiences and community participants. Participants are drawn from a diverse range of professionals and non-professionals aged 13 – 70, who find their roots on 6 continents and speak more than 25 languages and dialects.
MISCELLANEOUS Productions collaborates with multi-barriered and mainstream youth, adults and elders in their projects.
e-race is an interdisciplinary performance and DVD adaptation of a hip hop musical performance that was presented in Richmond, BC at the Gateway Theatre in September 2005. The story of e-race works backwards in time and explores young people’s obsession with “speed” including street racing, the “fast life” of gangs, crystal meth and “fast girls,” i.e. early sexual activity. e-race features a cast of young people aged 15 – 27 years old and also examines the erasure of race and racist stereotyping in the mass media.
What You Carry With You… deals with emigration/immigration, violence and xenophobia, aging and inter-generational relationships, memory and belonging and was created and developed by a team of professional artists and technicians who collaborated with non-professional youth 14 -20 years old and elders to age 77 from Richmond, BC.
THE REENA PROJECT / Outcasts & Angels, created in memory of Reena Virk, is a journey through the phat side of teen life in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada exploring the troubling contemporary issues of bullying, violence and discrimination featuring young people from the community.
This roving, site-specific performance began and ended at the Gateway Theatre and travelled to six sites that have cultural significance to teens in Richmond, BC.
In January and July 2009, casting calls drew youth from Vancouver high schools, community centres and workplaces. Since then, under the guidance of Director/Writer Elaine Carol and other professional artists, the participating youth have had intensive training in interdisciplinary performance, theatrical monologue, stand-up comedy, ritual performance, spoken word, World music, hip hop music and dance. In June 2009, youth from POWER performed their works-in-progress to standing-room-only crowds for three nights running at the Rhizome Café. This November, POWER 2 – the polished final product – will be presented at the Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre.
“For most, if not all, of the multicultural, immigrant and Indigenous multi-barriered youth we work with, POWER 2 is the first and only access they have had to the arts,” says MISCELLANEOUS Productions’ Artistic Director Elaine Carol. “These are young people who have, in some cases, fallen through the cracks of the educational, social and justice systems of our society. Through this project we hope they will learn to use art as a vehicle for healthy, lasting personal transformation and social change.” The beginnings of that change are clear in the youth performances: they are at once angry and hopeful, funny and frightening and brave.
Kaoru Matsushita, a young actor, singer and composer, has worked with the company in several of its productions and has composed several pieces for POWER 2. She spoke to The Bulletin from Japan.
In Her Own Words
What is your background in music/composition?
I started my training in classical piano when I was three in Japan but quit when I was in high school. The reason for quitting was that I didn’t quite understand why I was putting so much time and effort trying to learn music pieces that were written by others. By this time my interest in music has shifted to Jazz and trip-hop so I guess exploring different genres of music had a big impact on me quitting classical training and encouraging me to write something of my own. I also played flute, trumpet, saxophone and keyboards in bands—they were school programs, community programs, or with band members. I taught myself to play them.
How did you become involved with POWER 2 as composer?
I was first involved in MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTIONS as an actor/singer for REENA PROJECT Outcasts and Angels and What You Carry With You, but attending university had limited me from getting involved other than as an actor. But Elaine was kind enough to give me a chance to write bgm (background music) for a scene, and that’s where I became involved as a composer.
Music is a powerful force in society, particularly among young people. How does music impact your own life?
Music plays a big part in my life for sure. I have friends who are musicians or work in studios. I am always checking out what I hear and evaluating what I like about it or what I don’t like about it. When I hear something nice, it hits me somewhere (in the brain?) and gives me motivation to create something. When I hear something not so nice, I guess I become that much wiser not to do the same. I think music is a powerful force in society, but lately it seems that for young people it is the image that comes with the music that are driving them to do things. Unfortunately, many times those images are created by mass media and deliver wrong messages. I like music for the sounds and the images and colours that I get from listening to the sounds that collaborate into a piece.
POWER 2 uses hip hop, soul, Salsa, Brazilian Samba Reggae/funk and contemporary new music. Did you compose music within all those forms?
I wrote a hip hop beat for an actress to rap to, and two other pieces that are not so defined by genre. I wrote them to match to their scene, and thought they would be played as a subtle background music.
What does the show POWER 2 mean to you?
I think the show POWER 2 is composed of a series of messages that should be reconsidered by society. I believe the show has so much that one can relate to. I personally leave rehearsals deep in thought, recalling my past and things that I forgot about society and other people’s lives. Then I get motivated. It’s similar to when I hear good music or sound and something sparks in my brain.
Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre
Friday, November 27 and Saturday, November 28 8 PM
7646 Prince Albert Vancouver, BC V5X 1C7
Tickets $5 – 15 sliding scale