Openin ceremony of Neo Noh Open Air Theatre
On July 7th, 2018, I attended the opening ceremony of the Neo Noh Open Air Theatre in Virtasalmi, Finland. My godmother, Dr. Sky has been working on this project for over a decade and to see it manifest before me was an honor. The opening ceremony began with a few speeches from the guests of honor. It was interesting to experience this journey from different points of view and see how proud everyone was of Dr. Sky for accomplishing this magnificent feat. Mr. Ogawa talked about his journey to meeting Dr. Sky and how he never believed that she could finish the stage. The mayor spoke next, and although I did not understand her speech she spoke in Finnish, I could see how proud and astonished she was. It was nice to see Dr. Sky get the recognition she truly deserves for building this theatre for her community and for the sake of introducing new cultures to this town.
When the actual performances began, I was amazed at how they all came together. Although I had been to the rehearsals, I still shocked at how great the finished product looked. The music, the costumes, and the performers all did their part in creating a unique experience for the audience. Even Dr. Sky’s demonstration without music and costumes was very powerful for the audience and it was reflected in how silent they sat, mesmerized by the dance. It was especially interesting to see how Raisa and Tuula interpreted the Kata and how versatile it can be. Tuula had a more whimsical element to her performance that exuded grace, but Raisa’s was energetic and light hearted. It’s amazing how one dance can make someone feel such a large span of emotions.
The music and chanting, performed by Jenni, was amazing as well. Jenni is very talented and portrayed each character so well, especially knowing how little time she had to prepare. The chanting was also done very well and reflected the characteristics of each performer. Although I could not understand the words because of the language barrier, I could feel what they meant and see how the words shaped the characters and vice versa. I believe this could inspire others who do no know the language to come and watch a Noh performance because the energy coming from stage does not need any translation.
The men’s performance by Heikki and Erkki was phenomenal. It was a different genre of Noh, but entertaining none the less. It was great to learn that the two men had not been friends prior, but you couldn’t tell by their energy on stage. It’s amazing how throughout the process of building the stage to performing on stage, they’ve built a friendship along the way. I believe that this encapsulates the spirit of the theatre. and what Dr. Sky wanted to bring to this village; a sense of unity through different and exciting experiences.
Sitting among the audience, I had the opportunity to get a sense of how everyone felt about the opening. I felt that the audience found the performance very intriguing and they were immersed in the performances, even if they did get confused or lost along the way. I believe the opening opened their eyes to different cultures, and hopefully hooked them into returning for each unique performance scheduled.
I really enjoyed watching the opening and it was a great moment since I got to see all this hard work pay off. I am extremely proud of Dr. Sky and what she has created here with the people of this town in mind. I think this theatre has many attractive qualities that will draw people from all over since it is so unique and showcases so many new and exciting cultures. The theatre has brought people who didn’t know each other before together, and will continue to do so, therefore creating a stronger sense of community. I am extremely thankful to have been able to be here for the opening of the NeoNoh Open Air Theatre in Virtasalmi.
Written by Maral Gankhuyag