The Southern California film industry spends huge amounts of money trying to transport audiences to other worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Heroic doses of time and energy are poured into complex constructs of production design, lighting, computer animation and more.
This month, Theater Gigante proves that the only things really needed for this sort of thing are incredibly cool drums, a great voice, and an old movie that’s barely survived nearly 100 years. Japanese performer Nanako Yamauchi greets the audience with fluid grace. She is there to provide live narration at Gigante’s presentation of Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1926 film A page of madness. Yamauchi’s voice carries an emotional resonance throughout the silent film. Elegantly spoken words from across the planet are fused with percussion as composer Frank Pahl creates a rich audio atmosphere for the projection with cymbals, drums and bells and more performed by Little Bang Theory .
Kinugasa’s story tumbles through human misfortune. A man is a janitor in the mental institution where his wife is being treated. Kinugasa pushes the film through the camera with a hard burn of inner turmoil that leaves a breathtakingly expressionistic residue of movement and emotion on screen. Everyone in the story is marked in some way. Little Bang Theory weaves its supple and intricate path through an awe-inspiringly textured soundscape that comes vividly to life through Yamauchi’s words. New diction and new sounds dance with images from the distant past in the immediacy of the Kenilworth 508 Theatre. Too quickly, it passes and the Gigante Theater moves on.
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Presentation by the Gigante Theater of A page of madness only lasted a week. His next show stars Michael Stebbins in Will Eno’s Title and deed 18 Nov-Dec 3. For more information, visit theatregigante.org.