Saturday, December 5, 2009

the shout

Yesterday I met with Hanae Rivera, illustrator of Kodoku, to try to work out her storyboards. I had known since my meeting with J. at Heyday that I couldn't stand most of my previous draft, but had hoped the feeling would go away. It didn't because I was right. My previous draft was not good enough. It was muddy, went in all directions, lacked form.

I had written it before I worked on Kodoku the play. In writing the play, I finally realized why Kenichi was important to me and why I felt the thrum of the story so powerfully. It's about becoming an artist.

Here is the new version. The first bit is just an informational paragraph. The later part of the manuscript is intentionally sparse to allow for some purely visual storytelling.

In 1962, twenty-three year old Kenichi Horie boarded a
sailboat called The Mermaid, left Nishinomiya, Japan and
began to cross the Pacific Ocean. His destination was San
Francisco, California. His solo journey lasted ninety-four
days and was the first of its kind. Kenichi Horie has spent
his life as an adventurer. His first sailboat, The Mermaid
was donated to the San Francisco Maritime Museum.


Kenichi watched the waters. The waters watched back.
They showed him the wind and the boats and the wind
moving the boats across the waters. White smudges on
Osaka Bay. The waters shouted to him.
The wind moves forever
across an ocean that never ends.
That is what Kenichi heard, but the shout is different for
everyone who hears it.

The shout leaped inside Kenichi like a heartbeat. To be a
sailor on that wind... To launch a boat across that ocean...
To prepare, Kenichi studied the living map of the stars. He
learned the names of clouds. His hands became practiced
with needle and thread.

Kenichi grew older but the shout stayed young.
The wind moves forever
across an ocean that never ends.
He bent wood into a boat that was small, sturdy, and fat.
She was built with his sweat. She was built with his blood.
She was built with his breath. He called her The Mermaid.

The journey began in a night with no moon. The waters
that called to him were black. The wind kissed the sails
softly, as if frightened to wake them. Only an old woman
saw him push off slowly from shore. No one knew he was
crossing the ocean.

The ocean is a monster and is home to monsters. The
typhoon came on cloud feet. Kenichi and The Mermaid
fought the monster for fourteen days before it became
bored and went away.

The waters were bright and new and calm, but Kenichi
could not see them. He sat huddled in a shadow. He had
been so scared, but there were no arms to hold him, no eyes
to warm him, no voice but his own. Those who follow the
shout will hear this also: Kodoku-- the cry of loneliness.

His journey became broader and stranger.
The good days tasted like fish.

In the enormity of life, there are friends you will only meet

The shout can consume you. Kenichi began to forget
himself. There was only the ocean, only the wind. He lost
his past. He cared nothing for his future. He rode the wind
with men-of-war and thought he was one of them.

San Francisco carved a hole in the night with its lights. It
said, warm bath and it said hot meal and it said people!
Other people! Kenichi dropped anchor and waited until the
sun rose to show the way.

Kenichi's soul had become as big as a bridge. But even as
he touched the land again, and even during the parades and
parties and fame that followed, he heard it. The waters. The
wind. The leaping shout.
The wind moves forever
across an ocean that never ends.


Shannon said...

love your work here... "Kenichi grew older but the shout stayed young." great line!

Whim said...

Thank you, Shannon. :)