By Sabrina Carroll
Elm Staff Writer
“The Man Who Turned Into a Stick,” a senior directing thesis by Tamayo Kamimura, was more than a man becoming an inanimate object. In the play composed of three one-acts, written by Kobo Abe, the three pieces were related to birth, life, and death.
The play that “examined tensions between our lives and our stuffs,” as Professor Michele Volansky said, brought something fascinating to Washington College’s Drama Department.
Abe was a Japanese writer who wrote poetry, short stories, and other plays, including “The Ghost is Here” and “Green Stockings.” His ideas are projected in rather bizarre ways to convey ideas of identity and a person finding their place in the world. According to the New York Times, it was his ability “to make his audience smile as he drew into the bewilderment of victims (who themselves are usually a little amused by their plight) that made his work unique.”
“The Man Who Turned Into a Stick” begins in a living room with two women and a suitcase that is anything but normal. The suitcase looks a bit worn and like what any other suitcase would. However, as the play progresses, the suitcase begins to murmur. The sounds get louder as it begins to blurt out full sentences and cry out. The two women go back and forth about whether or not to open the suitcase, as well as what could be inside.
Freshman and actress in the play Jenna Shulman said, “This act displays the idea of birth through symbolism with the addition of a mysterious suitcase. This suitcase can be representing the baby that the Woman is fearful of having. She brings in a friend from her past to help her sort things out. However, by doing so, she only stirs up more trouble in their twisted relationship.”
The second one-act piece of the play shows a man in a boxing ring preparing for a fight. “In the second act, a boxer explains what he has to do each and every day to be successful. This represents life because the revelation the boxer has at the end of the fight is that he should live his life and do what he pleases,” said Shulman.
The third one-act piece is when the man is actually transformed into the stick, and this takes place in a city. The claim is that the man fell from a balcony and proceeded to become a stick after he had fallen. “It is really easy for a person to lose their identity in the city, but you have to end up finding it [somehow], so that is why there is a big scene regarding the city,” said Kamimura.
In addition to this idea of identity, Shulman added, “Instead of going out and making a difference, people often remain in the background and become tools for more ambitious people to use. Therefore, many people are likely to become sticks; merely an object that has no ability of its own and is forced to be manipulated by its owner.”
Putting this show together was not entirely easy for Kamimura. “It was kind of a long journey with first meeting people, but it was fun because people each brought their own experiences to [it]. They brought their own experiences to the stage, and I loved it,” she said.
Freshman Simon Belcher, who also acted in the play, was very positive about his experience and felt shows like “The Man Who Turned Into a Stick” are beneficial to have on campus. He said, “Being a part of this show was great. To be a part of such a hardworking and talented cast and crew was truly an honor. Having shows like this at WC is an enormous benefit to the campus. This type of show is complex, deep, hard to understand, and thought provoking. Having performances like this available to the student body, especially for free, exposes people to theater and makes them look at their lives in ways they wouldn’t.
“More than anything, we have become a family,” said Shulman.
The last chance to see a senior directing thesis is Nov. 21 and 22 with Val Dunn’s rendition of William Shakespeare’s “The Beauteous Majesty of Denmark.”