As part of their #BeyondTO series, Theatre Passe Muraille presents Chisato Minamimura’s collaboration with VibraFusionLab: Scored in Silence. This performative documentary is a fusion of sign language, mime, pre-recorded interviews and projected animations. Performing from behind a scrim, sharing the space with augmenting visuals, Minamimura takes the audience back to 1945—to the atomic bombs hitting Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Minamimura focuses our attention on a lesser known aspect of this familiar event—the experience of the disaster and its aftermath on the deaf community. There are anecdotes from survivors who sign (with subtitled translations) their stories. Minamimura blends these segments with poetic re-enactments of survival and places all within a broader historical context.
The artistic choices, given the vast possibilities of the projection screen, are exceptionally restrained. We are never shown, for example, any photographic imagery of the explosion itself or of the bodies ravaged by it. The specific horrors we imagine for ourselves, easily conjured from Minamimura’s interactions with projected animation.
The vibrotactile element featured here is underused. Audience members strap a device to their body—chest, back, or anywhere that is most comfortable—that generates vibrations to accompany key sonic effects. This tactile “score” is certainly intriguing, but the sensation itself is so slight and mundane, it doesn’t have much impact.
Despite the presentation as a whole not feeling especially immersive, there are moments of raw power here. The first-hand survivor stories, presented austerely, without metaphor or clever framing, are undeniably compelling.
The final message Minamimura leaves us with is somewhat banal, but Scored in Silence does open a window into a very specific perspective of the atrocity and the tenacious humanity found within.