Director: Samantha Scott-Blackhall
Playwright: Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Institution: LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore
Venue: ATEC Website
Time: 09:30, May 18, 2019
Event: The 4th World Theatre Education Conference with 6th Asian Theatre Schools Festival
Based on Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story In a Grove and immortalized by Akira Kurasawa’s film, Rashomon is a psychological thriller centered on the murder of a Samurai warrior. Multiple accounts of the crime constitute the narrative’s dramatic structure, with various characters recalling the event according to their own personal interest. The “truth” is never fully revealed, thereby leaving the spectator to decipher fact from fiction.
LASALLE’s Rashomon is a theatrical production that was filmed, edited, and broadcast worldwide. Because of COVID-19 we were unable to perform for a live audience and therefore shifted our approach from a standard work of theatre to one realized cinematically. Thus, we engaged a director of photographer and a process that developed the piece as a theatrical work that would ultimately be presented as a film. The actors, designers, and technicians therefore had to shift—if not transform—their skillset to address certain changes as performing out of sequence and adjusting to camera angles and positioning as well as designing lights that effectively transferred to filmmaking. In sum, the students were able to meet these challenges while accessing learning outcomes that were jointly inclusive and transcendent of their theatre training.
A priest, a woodcutter and another man are taking refuge from a rainstorm in the shell of a former gatehouse called Rashomon. The priest and the woodcutter are recounting the story of a murdered samurai whose body the woodcutter discovered three days earlier in a forest grove. Both were summoned to testify at the murder trial, the priest who ran into the samurai and his wife traveling through the forest just before the murder occurred. Three other people who testified at the trial are supposedly the only direct witnesses: a notorious bandit named Tajomaru, who allegedly murdered the samurai and raped his wife; the white veil cloaked wife of the samurai; and the samurai himself who testifies through the use of a medium. The three tell a similarly structured story - that Tajomaru kidnapped and bound the samurai so that he could rape the wife - but which ultimately contradict each other, the motivations and the actual killing being what differ. The woodcutter reveals at Rashomon that he knows more than he let on at the trial, thus bringing into question his own actions. But another discovery at Rashomon and the resulting actions from the discovery bring back into focus the woodcutter's own humanity or lack thereof.