By Sophia Astor
Kazuki Ono, a Purchase theater and performance major, pushed through major delays and a time crunch to pay homage to his culture in his senior project performance “No Longer Human,” a play adapted from the Japanese novel by Osamu Dazai.
“It was important to me that my senior project include Japanese culture, so I based it off of my favorite book,” said Ono, who was born and raised in Japan. “I transferred here a year ago, so the whole process was more rushed than normal. I wrote the script over winter break and had less than one semester to put on the show.”
Ono’s adaptation of “No Longer Human” tells the tragic story of a man named Yozo, played by Ono, who has been constantly disappointed by the people around him. Yozo chooses to renounce society but finds he cannot avoid the people and world around him. After multiple failed suicide attempts, Yozo resorts to drugs and alcohol to cope.
The play debuted in the Humanities Theater and was the only show in this semester’s theater and performance senior project festival to be adapted from another language. Despite prop delays and missing projectors, the small cast of four actors successfully put on four intimate shows.
“It was refreshing to be part of something that not only mixed two cultures but two languages as well,” said Will Isidro, who played Horiki, a selfish alcoholic who hangs around Yozo. “What is very much lacking from theater today is the representation of different cultures.”
Ono showcased his culture by dressing the actors in traditional kimonos and sprinkling bits of Japanese within the English script. He was the only cast member able to speak and understand Japanese.
“It was cool to see how Kazuki would curate reactions from an audience who didn’t understand what he was saying,” said Haylin Davis, who played Tsuneko, one of Yozo’s love interests. “You can understand his tone, the vibe, the context, even if you don’t know the words. It’s a challenge for actors to act around words, but it’s nice to have that representation in a Purchase show. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
Originally, subtitles were supposed to be projected onto the stage as Ono spoke Japanese, but the projector never came.
“The hardest part about putting on this show is we had no time,” said Ono. “I wanted to speak more Japanese, but everything was so last minute we never got around to the projector, and I didn’t want people to be confused.”
Ono had only two months to put on a show that most seniors take an entire year to work on. He rushed the writing and rehearsal process and only received his props days before the first performance.
The actors had to interact with the props regularly throughout the play, and Davis explained that it was stressful for the cast to rehearse without knowing if they would ever come.
“I do see how they could have been a bit more rehearsed, but I loved the show and the minimalist set,” said Fei Cheng, who watched the final performance. “It was a tragic story, but it was so beautiful.”
There were many bumps in the road, but Ono says he’s proud that the cast and crew put on such a successful production.
“I couldn’t have done it without all these talented, dedicated people,” he said. “They were more helpful than I could’ve asked for.”