PI = 3.14.....
Hiroshima-New York-Belgrade-New York-Sarajevo-New York-Kabul

conceived & directed by: Yoshiko Chuma
text by: Yoshiko Chuma, Bonnie Sue Stein & the Company
sound design by: Jacob Burckhardt
lighting design by: Pat Dignan
costumes by: Gabriel Berry
set design by: Tom Lee
video by: Nihad and Sead Kresevljakovic
performers: Tea Alagic, Jim DiBiasio, Yoshiko Chuma, Wazhmah Osman, Ivan Talijancic, Maggie McBrien and Jenny Smith

Performance Schedule:
March 16th - 31st, 2002
Wednesdays 8:00pm
Thursday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sundays 5:30pm
previews March 14th & 15th
The Club

"War is like having a sick child," says Choreographer Yoshiko Chuma, headmistress of the modernist dance collaborative known as The School of Hard Knocks, adding, "you either keep doing your job or not." She did her job when she and The School of Hard Knocks traveled to Sarajevo in 1999 to perform at the MESS Sarajevo International Theatre Festival in Bosnia with a piece called "Footprints of War." The show went on, but getting the set back from Sarajevo, in time for an engagement at the Joyce, was a drama in itself: a 2½ month administrator's nightmare of mis-communications, frayed emotions, botched promises, excuses and cultural challenges.

The mountains of emails and correspondence relating to this set became the starting point of the script for "PI = 3.14: Hiroshima-New York-Belgrade-New York-Sarajevo-New York-Kabul." The math part of the title stands for "endless, continuous circles of life and war," according to Chuma. The resulting production turned into a spoken and choreographed work that deals with large issues of war, displacement, and the parallels between Chuma's youth in postwar Japan and the lives of the performers, who have all had wartime experiences of their own. They include Tea Alagic, an expatriate artist from the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Talijancic, a Croatian-born actor, Jim DiBiasio, an American actor who has lived through three wars, and Wazma Osman, a 27 year-old Afghan woman who walked over the Pakistani border to freedom in 1980, yet returned in 1999 and met Taliban repression face-to-face. Chuma wants to bring out the parallels between hers and each person's story--between 1945 Japan, 1995 Sarajevo and 2002 Kabul.

The texts and movement are all staged in a set with a "store window" motif which resembles a radio show going on behind a large sheet of plate glass. On stage there are two video monitors and eight black chairs. The texts are rendered like a chat room with movement. The performers interact, but not directly: more like you would in a radio show. Interspersed are '30s and '40s newsreel tracks--they make the icy cool pastel surroundings atmospheric and evoke parallels to time and history passing. The show was workshopped last May at Dixon Place, but with a different cast except for Chuma and Jim DiBiasio. The flavor of the piece may be recognizable from the workshop; other than that, it's completely changed.

The School of Hard Knocks, founded in 1984, is a collaborative effort of choreographers, dancers, actors, singers, musicians, designers, and visual artists working under the Artistic Direction of Yoshiko Chuma. The company has created and performed original works in the US, Europe and in Asia, continuing to expand The School of Hard Knocks "pipeline." Over the course of the company's history, more than 1,000 people have performed under Chuma's direction in situations ranging from theatrical dance concerts to street performances, parades, and large-scale spectacles.

Yoshiko Chuma was born in Osaka, Japan and has lived and worked in the United States since 1978. Chuma has created more than 45 full-length company works, and as commissions and site-specific events for venues across the world. Her work has been presented in New York in venues ranging from the Joyce Theater to the legendary annual Halloween Parade; and abroad in such varied locations as the formal National Theater of Sarajevo, to the perimeter of the Hong Kong harbor to an ancient ruin in Macedonia. She is comfortable creating work in nearly any environment that challenges perceptions of performance to both audience and participant. Ms. Chuma is the recipient of several fellowships and awards for choreography and career work from: John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, NEA, NYFA, Japan Foundation, Meet the Composer Choreographer/Composer Commission, Philip Morris New Works, and received a 1984 BESSIE award for choreography and creation. She has led workshops and master classes in East and West Europe, Asia, Russia and the U.S. In 1992 at La MaMa, she choreographed "Jo Ha Ku," a work performed to a score by Tan Dun. In 1997, she was choreographer of "Golem" by Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, which had music composed, aranged and directed by Frank London (The Klezmatics) and following its La MaMa debut, was subsequently featured in the 1998 Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater.

"PI = 3.14..." is conceived and directed by Yoshiko Chuma. The text is by Yoshiko Chuma, Bonnie Sue Stein and the Company.
The production is funded in part, by New York State Council on the Arts/ Dance Program, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and Phillip Morris Companies Inc.

MESS Festival Sarajevo

2002 page