Ghost of Showa looks at the spectres that haunt the economy of modern East Asia and the darkly ambiguous legacy of opium in the development of the Asian state. The piece moves between a narration of the colonial bureaucrat, prime minister and war criminal Nobusuke Kishi’s life and a counter-narrative told through the historical witness figure of the grandmother, recalling the interlocking stories of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese women and men who bore the burden of Japanese economic policy in its colonies.
These stories combine to paint a portrait of a colonial state from the points–of-view of both the oppressor and the oppressed, while a description of the economic role played by opium within the structure of a colonial state is woven through the narrative. The performance moves between lecture and dance, the piece playing out as an elaborate butoh. With the grandmother as narrator, the male and female figures engage in a ‘dance of darkness’, responding to and mirroring the animated images and text.
Text & Direction: Royce Ng / Choreography: Yangjah / Performers: Wang Bo, Yangjah, Royce Ng / Sound Design: John Bartley / Animation: Zheng Mahler Studio / Commissioned by Asia Culture Center Theatre (Gwangju, KR) / Co-produced by Theater der Welt 2017 (Hamburg, DE) & National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul, KR).