“Peering into private lives. Crossing boundaries”

In keeping with the 2019 London Festival of Architecture’s theme “Boundaries”, the panel discussed how the manipulation of boundaries between audience/performers and private/public spaces forms an essential part of THE鍵KEY.

The panel spoke about how the staging of the performance intensifies the physical and emotional boundaries between the characters. They also discussed how inviting an audience to come into a private space, up-close with the performers creates an immersive and intimate experience. Privacy was a major topic for discussion, particularly how the design of a private space can affect the personal relationships of the people who live there and the people who are invited to enter. 

Angus Shepherd described how as a designer, he never wants to “over-prescribe” the house: he feels a house has to have room for the residents to find how they will live in it and a design can give suggestions of where you would naturally do things but it must be flexible, responsive to those who will live there.

The panel also discussed the difference between concepts of privacy in Japanese and British architecture and how the design and materials of each aesthetic can affect how private one can be or how easily one can peer in on another. This was discussed in relation to the staging of THE鍵KEY in London compared to Tokyo. The traditional Japanese houses let in little natural light, allowing the characters to hide in the shadows, while on the other hand, the thin paper screens provided plenty of opportunity for eavesdropping and spying. In contrast, the large windows and open-plan layout of 10 Tollgate Drive meant the characters had to retreat to the far corners of the house to be truly alone. Though in reality, each of the characters want to be watched by the others, so the spaciousness of the house allowed them to successfully and subtly exhibit themselves.  

The panel discussion was followed by a short performance designed to give a flavour of how the themes discussed present in the opera in practice. An extract of the Daughter’s music and action was specifically adapted for the Powell Tuck Associates studio venue. To give a sense of over-hearing the characters in the other rooms, recordings of the Wife and Husband’s music were played simultaneously through speakers placed on the balcony above the studio space. The Daughter, played by Akari Mochizuki, moved around the space, at times coming up very close to audience members, to give them a sense of the intimate atmosphere evoked in the opera performances.  

Peering into private lives. Crossing boundaries

Date: Thursday 27th June, 6:30pm-9pm
Venue: Powell Tuck Associates Studio, 6 Stamford Brook Rd, London

Panel speakers: Francesca Le Lohé (composer and director of THE鍵KEY),

Bill Bankes-Jones (Artistic Director and founder of Tête a Tête: The Opera Festival), 

Angus Shepherd (a director of Powell Tuck Associates, owner of performance venue, 10 Tollgate Drive)

Chair: Asia Grzybowska (associate at Powell Tuck Associates)

Performers: Akari Mochizuki (The Daughter, mezzo-soprano), Pau Mercadal (violin)

THE鍵KEY was an official event of the Japan-UK Season of Culture