A Translation of Shadows

Studio Theatre  

Have you ever fallen in love with a film star? Have they loved you back?

The benshi were live narrators of silent films in Japan until the ‘talkies’ wiped them out.Now, thanks to playful theatre mavericks Stan’s Cafe shooting their own silent film in Tokyo, the benshi is back!

Witty, poetic and subversive, join the benshi for his commentary on the film Shadows and the lives of its fictional cast.Inevitably he’s in love with the film’s star. As the narrator, the mighty benshi has a chance to change the story and ensure she loves him back … or does he?

Programme Notes

Welcome to A Translation of Shadows.

I learnt about the curious figure of the benshi from an old book about the history of Japanese film.

The benshi intrigued me. I liked thinking about an audience so new to film they needed its grammar explained.I revelled in the idea that a benshi could be the star attraction and could twist the narrative of any film she or he narrated.I empathised with the benshi’s fate, swept away by the march of technology and the coming of ‘the talkies’.

In preparation for making this show we thought we should watch some old Japanese films and try being benshi to them. A Woman of Tokyo by Yasujiro Ozu was myfavourite and reading about the extraordinary lives of the two female leads was tremenously inspiring.

If there is such a thing as a ‘typical’ Stan’s Cafe show, then I suspect this is not it, but we are excited by it and hope you like it.

James Yarker, Artistic Director

Director James Yarker gives us an hour that is entertaining and thought-provoking, funny, sinister and inventive.A Translation of Shadows is an unadulterated pleasure that points up our relationship with the moving image, and how it can seduce us away from reality.

Bum on a Seat

Tour Dates

  • Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
    22 – 24 April 2015

  • Peninsular Arts, Plymouth
    30 April 2015

  • Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton
    22 May 2015

  • Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
    25-29 August 2015

  • The REP, Birmingham
    21-23 September 2015

  • Edge Hill University, Ormskirk
    6 October 2015

  • Axis Arts Centre, Crewe
    13 October 2015

  • Aberystwyth Arts Centre
    3 November 2015

  • The Castle, Wellingborough
    11 November 2015

  • (Woman of Tokyo Benshi Performance)
    Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham
    27 March 2015

Theatre Credits

Performed by: Craig Stephens
Directed by: James Yarker
Lighting: Ben Pacey
Music and Sound: Nina West
Script: Craig Stephens and James Yarker
Graphic Design: Simon Ford
General Manger
(Pre-Production): Charlotte Martin
Administrator: Rowena Wilding
Executive Producer
(Post-Production): Roisin Caffrey
Trailer: Oliver Clark

With thanks to:
Michelle Worthington, Nick Sweeting,
Gareth Nicholls, Peter Maxwell Dixon,
David Edmunds and DEP Arts,
Matt Burman, Alan Rivett
and Warwick Arts Centre,
Jack Trow, Ian Francis and Flatpack,
Dr. Mark Crossley & Dr. Rachel King,
Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Special thanks to Takako Nodera

Commissioned by: Warwick Arts Centre
With financial support from:
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
and Arts Council England

Woman of Tokyo – Benshi

Performed by Jack Trow
On 27 March, 2015
Commissioned by Flatpack Film Festival

Film Credits

Girl: Marie Kitagawa
Grown up Girl: Takako Akashi
Boy: Shohei Muro
Father: Seiichi Tanisugi
Man: Ryuhei Uemoto
Fantasy Voice: Nozomi Ogishima
Camera and Edit: Oliver Clark
Soundtrack: Nina West
Screenplay: Craig Stephens and James Yarker Assistant to the Director: James Yarker
Director: Oliver Clark
Producer in Japan: Satoshi Fukuoka
Translator and Assistant Producer in Japan: Lisa Fukouka
Producers in England: Charlotte Martin & James Yarker
Benshi Costume: Kay Wilton
Opening Credits: Seiichi Tanisugi
With thanks to: Minako Eshi and Satagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo Miura Film Commission and City Keikyu Corporation, Hogetsu Hotel, Ishii Taxi, Mitsuya Liquor, Hideyo Tsuda, Kakumoto Atsushi

..there is a deeper relationship that is essentially being explored, between theatre and film; narrator and character;story and storytelling. There is a struggle of power, of understanding, of choice, between what we are seeing and what we want to see.There is also, of course, the literal translation of language – what is being accurately translated? What is being missed out? Is the narrator adding elements to the silent text on screen? … Without revealing too much for to-be audiences, it is, without a doubt, something very different. If you like difference, Stan’s Cafe will not disappoint

Joe Optimistik

Social Media Reaction

A Translation of Shadows was brilliantly complex and beautiful #theatre

Two more nights to catch #atranslationofshadows by @stanscafe at @warwickarts. A beautiful interplay between live performance and video

Congratulations @stanscafe on uncovering and exploding the way of the benshi in #atranslationofshadows. Enigmatic and understated beauty

Just watched @stanscafe #ATranslationOfShadows. A truly unique theatre experience, cleverly brilliant and thought provoking.