In the spring of 2000, master artists from China, Japan, Korea, and the United States were in residence to complete the final development of Forgiveness
, a major new music-theater work co-commissioned by the Walker. One of five international theater presentations by the Walker in a series titled Outer Reaches: New International Theater, Forgiveness
examined a pain-filled 20th century of inter-Asian conflict marked by war and peace, unspeakable atrocities, the past dream of a united Asia, and the road to healing and reconciliation.
The artists worked together for over two years before the world premiere, establishing rapport, exchanging aesthetic ideas, and building trust amongst all of the artists to conceptualize a work of such a sensitive nature. Collaborators included Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng, Japanese Noh master Akira Matsui, Korean dancer Song Hee Lee, American composer Eve Beglarian, Korean vocalist Kang Kwon Soon, Chinese Peking Opera performer Zhou Long, Chinese pipa player Wu Man, Chinese dizi and Korean piri flutes player Zhou Ming, and Japanese-American multi-percussionist Kenny Endo.
Working in four languages was a challenge, however these differences became a strength rather than a liability as the diversity of linguistic interpretation was explicitly explored as part of the working process. The differences and varieties of a given word in each language─for example “forgiveness,” “shame,” or “guilt” ─became points of departure in the creation of the work. The challenge was not only in communication (three different translators communicating back and forth between artists) but also in artistic interpretation and content. Each had their own unique style, but came together in this collaboration to address the same issues of forgiveness.
The accompanying residency programs brought a level of depth and interaction with the community that was an important component of the project. Activities were created in collaboration with community partners including Asian American Renaissance, Augsberg College, CAAM, Intermedia Arts, Minnesota Dance Alliance, The Korean-American Today and Tomorrow Center, and Theater Mu. The numerous residency activities included comparative master classes in their respective theater and dance traditions; meet-the-artist interviews on the making of Forgiveness
; and a humanities panel on the concept of forgiveness within the historical context of Asia and World War II, featuring artists, activists and scholars from the local Asian and Asian American community discussing their view on the process of healing and the role of the arts in creating a path towards future understanding. . . .
Chen Shi-Zheng (Chinese, b. 1963)
Akira Matsui (Japanese, b. 1946)
Eve Beglarian (American, b. 1958)