Yamato is sending explosive energy through London this March, as their powerful drumming rocks the foundations of our city and reawakens its dwellers. Passion shoots sparks through your every cell and each beat of the taiko drum catalyses your heart.
© Yamato in Passion
If you are not initially impressed by the thought of live drum playing, I would argue you are mistaken. Were you right, then it would be that the fifty-four different countries that have recognised Yamato as a source of creative Japanese culture since 1993 must all be wrong. It is more than drum playing. This is a one-of-a-kind physical and musical experience; one you have never experienced before. The opening alone incorporates a multitude of theatrical formations, decadent dresses and set designs that will take you straight to Asuka – the birthplace of Japanese culture.
Yamato begins by locating you, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of Shinto religious ceremonies, with the rhythmic hitting of the traditional taiko drums, alongside the parading of traditional Asian lanterns. This scene brings a moment of peace before the rapture ensues. As the performance reaches its peak, an array of drums line the stage. The audience’s gaze is held as tiny lace-headed drums create a symphony with the gigantic ‘Miya-Daiko’, whose vibrations hit you in your core. This immense basso profundo creates reverberations that must cross continents with their intensity. These sensational performances are interspersed with a series of slapstick call and responses, where the audience are engaged completely.
Another scene of joy comes from Chappa (a bronze symbol) formations that will force the most stern-faced audience members to smile. Public engagement is at 100% as not one member of the audience can help but absorb the performers energy. Their power and passion is contagious!
This immense versatility continues throughout. Not only does Yamato have the monopoly on drum playing, but they also demonstrate their talents across a range of instruments. Their skills range from the flute, the Shamisam (a long-necked guitar made for plucking) and even voice, but the most physically challenging remains the drum.
The fourteen artists that create the ensemble have bodies that could compete with any Olympian, and the diversity of costuming does not leave a lot to the imagination. In a moment of stereotype subversion, the cast re-emerges on stage- the men wearing less and the women wearing more. Magic Mike-esque stripping commences, with four men peeling off their shirts, before an immensely masculine and physically challenging musical attack. The choreography gives each broad-shouldered man one broad faced drum to thump with spirit. Thank you, Masa Ogawa, for destabilising the male gaze through this animated and comical artistic direction – the older women in the audience were extremely grateful!
This showcase will give you a surge of energy and vitality that you will not find from any other London performance. Whether you are looking for an exciting way to spend an evening with your friends, or a night out for the whole family, this show supplies every element of encompassing entertainment.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor and Dimitrina Dyakova, Deputy
Passion – Yamato
12 – 31 March
The Peacock Theatre
Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT