Brooklyn-based experimental theater writer Aya Ogawa hasn’t thought about her father for ten years. In 2017, ten years after his death, she and her mother chose not to mark his funeral or even the obituary in his California town’s local newspaper…that.
It seemed to indicate that their relationship was far away and how painful it was for her.fail sandwich,” thought she had somehow failed as his daughter.
Ogawa, 48, said one afternoon last week, sitting casually barefoot on the floor of the Lincoln Center Theater’s second-floor rehearsal studio. “He would have been celebrated and he would have wanted to be recognized.”
It was too late for her to do anything because her father wasn’t in her life, even though they shared the same house. But she was able to use the tools of her own art to imagine a different ending for their relationship: a gesture of forgiveness to him, saying that “it couldn’t be any other way.” she said.
And “Failure Sandwich,” a piece she’s been building up from other people’s failure stories, has evolved into her critically acclaimed play, “The Nosebleed.” After a brief performance at her Society in Japan last fall, she will run until August 28th at the Creatow Theater. LCT3the new stage at the Lincoln Center Theater.
“The Nosebleed” ponders what Ogawa describes to the audience as “one of the biggest failures of my life.” It’s not something she was eager to analyze publicly.
“I never wanted to write an autobiography,” said Ogawa, who grew up in Japan and the United States and graduated from Columbia University. “I never thought I would be writing about my father. It represents a very vulnerable side of my life.
Ogawa plays a father of various ages and a five-year-old younger son, while four other actors play prismatic versions of the playwright-director.
“It’s a mind trip, isn’t it?” Dre Campbell, who has worked with Ogawa for 20 years, considers Ogawa “like family” and plays the character Aya4.
Ogawa’s emotive play avoids bitterness in favor of kindness, humor, and emotional complexity. Mostly questions like “Who has a dead father?”, “Who hates his father?” And — more lighthearted — “Who here has seen the reality show The Bachelor or The Bachelorette?”
There is also a Japanese Buddhist funeral service for Ogawa’s father, and some spectators may choose to participate by using chopsticks to pick up fragments of bone substitutes from his imaginary ashes. The playwright, who sees Sheen in a paternalistic way, said it unexpectedly became “this incredibly profound and spiritual practice” for her.
“I see the remains of my body come out in front of me,” she said.
For LCT3 Artistic Director Evan Cabnett, Ogawa’s compassion and vulnerability are part of what makes her a “true freak” among experimental theater makers.
“There are many artists who operate in a formally experimental mode, but the end result of their work is very often cerebral, intellectual, or clever,” he said. . “Aya’s works are all like that, but basically she leads from the bottom of her heart.
That may sound like an inside-out tribute, but only if the ideal is tough guy theater. For Ogawa, that’s clearly not the case.
That same year, experimental playwright Haruna Lee, who uses they/them pronouns, had just graduated from Brooklyn College and was looking for a director for her play Suicide Forest. Then they sent it down the stream. He only knew Lee from afar as “this badass Japanese-American director with an asymmetrical haircut and double nose piercing.”
Ogawa, who also has a considerable track record as a flexible translator of Japanese plays, answered “about 50 questions” and immediately understood how Japanese and American cultures were so rawly intertwined, Lee said. said. play. “This script is also autobiographical about parenthood.
Lee was afraid to play the central role of a teenage girl, but Ogawa pressured them to do it anyway. , eventually revealing that Lee is non-binary. When Ogawa directed a play on Bushwick Star in 2019, it was a hit.
By then, Lee had played one of Ayas in “The Nosebleed,” but it was not performed at Lincoln Center because it conflicted with joining the writer’s room for season two of the Apple TV+ drama Pachinko. not.
Ogawa considers “Suicide Forest” and “Nosebleed” to be “works that seeped into the same brain swamp”, and Lee’s play gave her the courage she needed.
The title of “The Nosebleed” comes from Ogawa’s then-five-year-old son Kenya, who woke up with a nosebleed in the middle of the night on a family trip to Japan in 2017. Kenya sleeping. But the reason for the title is a metaphor for the child’s blood, the lineage that connects Ogawa’s son with her and her father. is involved, invested, and emotionally present with children, she said.)
She finds it easier to play her own child, but not hard to slip into a father. And somehow I fell for him, so that my body becomes a vessel for the image of him that I have.
And like all actors who had to sympathize with a character in order to play that person, she had to find a way to understand her father.
Her sons, now 10 and 12, were born after their grandfather passed away. But on the opening night at Lincoln Center last week, she wanted them to participate in the play’s funeral ceremonies.
And so it was. In front of his grandfather’s iconic cremated remains, they took chopsticks and together they helped his body rest.
Their mother, in character as a debilitated old man, watched over them and felt a sense of liberation – forgiveness.