Sunday, November 20, 2005

Murakami on stage and online

I'm trying to find some excuse to visit Chicago between now and February 19th, which is when the stage adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story collection after the quake closes at the Steppenwolf Theatre. While passing through Chicago's airport last week I picked up a flier which asks the intriguing question, 'Will Super-Frog Save Tokyo?'

after the quake is a fantastic book, full of the emotional insights and imaginative twists that I adore in Murakami. I will probably have to rely on my own imagination to tell me how it comes across on stage, but the Steppenwolf site includes a fascinating article by the play's director, Frank Galati, who also wrote the adaptation. Mr. Galati is obviously highly attuned to the dramatic possibilities of the stories, as well as their musical undercurrents. He writes that he decided to use a cello and a Japanese koto to create "a kind of narrating musical personality... [so that] their living presence, the spontaneity of their participation, their witnessing of the unfolding of the stories would really contribute, in a simple, but a very rich way to the Murakami-esque nature of the whole production."

On a related note, another Murakami short story appears in this week's New Yorker magazine: "The Year of Spaghetti." Few writers could make the everyday rituals of pasta preparation seem so mysterious and meaningful. Or convince us that a city's survival may depend on an enormous frog superhero and his unconscious accomplice.

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