Through Childlike Eyes Review

“Through Childlike Eyes” was a success! In just two weeks we created a dance-theater piece based on the Comfort Women during the second World War. It took another direction then the original “Through Childlike Eyes” dance piece, but that’s the beauty of theater and storytelling…how it evolves depending on where we are, and who we work with. Each performer is unique!

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Production Still. From left to right: Kamila Olympia Rudnicki, S. Frank, Stella Monga, Wiebke Heinrich, Mozhgan Rabbany.
© Katja Engbrecht, 2013

Here is a review in German from Birgit Schmalmack… translation is underneath:

Genau in dem Moment, als die jungen Frauen auf der Bühne mit den Fingern Regengeräusche auf den Boden klopfen und gemeinsam unter dem roten Regenschirm Schutz suchen, beginnt auch der Gewitterregen auf das Dach des Sprechwerks zu trommeln. Das Hamburger Wetter unterstrich mit perfektem Timing die Dramatik der Premiere von „Through childlike eyes“. 
Die Geschichte von der roten Sonne, die die Frauen sich zu Beginn noch erzählten, wird ihnen keinen Trost und Schutz spenden. Denn sie sind als „Trostfrauen“ für Soldaten im Krieg entführt worden. Gefangen, geschlagen und gezwungen werden sie zu Handlungen, die ihnen Übelkeit verursachen. Immer wieder suchen sie Schutz beieinander, doch sie finden ihn nicht. Letztendlich bleibt jede von ihnen alleine mit ihrem Demütigungen und Verletzungen. 
Ein schwieriges Thema hatte sich Regisseur John Andrew Cunningham für seine Tanzproduktion mit der Schweizer „A Point Theatre Company“ ausgesucht. Trostfrauen, die eigentlich als angeworbene Prostituierte für japanische Soldaten im zweiten Weltkrieg dienen sollten, wurden im Verlaufe des Krieges auch unter der eroberten Bevölkerung zwangsrekrutiert. So kam es auch zur Entführung Minderjähriger, die er thematisiert.. 
Es gelingen dem Ensemble wunderbare Momente, Bilder und Sequenzen. Besonders beeindruckend war das Ballett-Solo von Stella Monga, in dem der tiefe Wunsch nach Freiheit und seiner gewaltsamen Unterdrückung berührend zum Ausdruck kamen. Leider endete kurz nach diesem Höhepunkt das Stück unvermittelt. Die ganze Tragweite dieses Sachverhaltes in einer Dreiviertelstunde zu bearbeiten, war herausfordernd. So wurde es eher zu einem „work in progress“, dem man eine weitere Ausarbeitung wünscht. 

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Ensemble photo. From left to right: S. Frank, Wiebke Heinrich, Kamila Olympia Rudnicki, Stella Monga, Mozhgan Rabbany. © Katja Engbrecht, 2013

In English:

As the young women started to make rain sound-effects with their fingers on the stage floor and tried to find shelter together under the red umbrella, that was exactly when the rain started to fall on the roof of the Sprechwerk Theater. The Hamburg weather, with perfect timing, emphasized the dramatic art of the premier of “Through Childlike Eyes”.

The story of The Red Sun, which is the story being told throughout the show by these women, did not provide any comfort or protection for them anymore after they have been abducted by the soldiers during war and forced into being “Comfort Women”. Caught, beaten and forced into acts that lead them to illness. Again and again, they tried to find comfort and seek shelter together, but they never could. Ultimately, all of them are alone with their humiliation and pain.

A difficult topic that the choreographer John Andrew Cunnington had chosen for his dance production with the Swiss theatre company, “À Point”. Comfort Women were kidnapped and forced to serve as prostitutes for the Japanese soldiers during World War II…some of these women were as young as twelve. It was the abduction of these minors which John Andrew Cunnington decided to focus on.

The Ensemble provided wonderful moments, images and sequences. Particularly impressive and moving was the ballet solo by Stella Monga, in which she expressed their deepest desire for freedom under their violent repression. Unfortunately after this climax, the piece ended quite abruptly. To fully digest all of the implications of this story in just 45 minutes was challenging. It was more a “work in progress”, in which one desires further elaboration.

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Promo-Photo. From left to right: S. Frank, Mozhgan Rabbany, Kamila Olympia Rudnicki, Stella Monga, Wiebke Heinrich
Photo by Alyssa Marie Warncke

NOTE: Anastasia Schwarzkopf and Katja Engbrecht unfortunately had to resign shortly before our rehearsals started. Fortunately, Mozhgan Rabbany, a social education worker with experience in acting and writing, joined our ensemble at the last minute with enthusiasm and passion. We are very grateful that you were a part of this short yet intense theater/dance experience!

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