Monday, March 17, 2014

I caught the Sunday performance of Water by the Spoonful at Court Theatre last night during the show's opening weekend.  It was a rewarding experience on several levels, starting with the Pulitzer Prize-winning script by playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, a very original meditation on the effects of drug addiction using the contemporary concept of internet chat rooms to link together its disparate characters, separated by factors such as race, class and geography.  I also got to see a lot of my past colleagues gathered together onstage at the same time.  Kudos for stirring work from Edgar Miguel Sanchez and Yadira Correa, my castmates from The Ghost is Here.  Marissa Lichwick-Glesne, a recent acquaintance from a past reading for Artemesia Theatre, was also there playing a Japanese adoptee on a search-for-identity in the country of her birth, dressed in appropriate mod faux-Harajuku style.  Anish Jethmalani was also there, playing several roles that included a brief appearance as a Japanese policeman.  Anish was the reason I was able to catch the show that night.  He had contacted me during rehearsals to get some translation and dialect assistance for his character, and as a show of thanks I was able to see the show with my wife and got a surprise shout-out in the program book.

This sort of capped off a short period of providing Japanese language assistance for a couple of different actors.  I also gave some quick lessons via Facebook for both Marissa and my Red Dawn scene partner Cindy Chu a month or so ago for Japanese dialogue to use in auditions. Since I work as a freelance translator, I'm always up for providing help on the acting and theatrical end.  Funny enough, though, I'm a bit ambivalent about acting in Japanese myself.  Although I can translate complex documents like patents and scientific research papers and hold my own in a conversation, actually acting in Japanese is something I've found exceedingly difficult.  No matter what I do, I'm an American through and through, and getting out the proper emotional beats when speaking just doesn't come out as smoothly or naturally for me in Japanese as it does in English.  A little while ago, I was cast as a Japanese businessman for a short comedic film used for online advertising.  The intention was to have me speaking Japanese, but the script had not been translated in advance, so I was having to make up dialogue on the fly (difficult for me in any language) without the usual, leisurely benefit of double-checking with native speaker friends or consulting the internet for accuracy.  The clients were satisfied, but I always cringe when I watch the footage.  Unfortunately, there's no classes for "acting in a second language," but based on a recent NPR story, if you're an Asian American actor with Asian language skills, it's best to polish those up to the highest sheen possible.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my (thus far) only professional gig attempting to act in Japanese.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry5gYA1SwtM
video

1 comment:

  1. I was convinced by your dialogue, Dwight. Nice work!

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