Contemporary Candian Film and Literature (Fall, 1999)
Le Confessional Lepage on Lepage Relevant Links No (the film) Reviews

The Seven Streams of River Ota

  by Robert Lepage

Plot Summary and Characters Issues and Questions for discussion

Main Issues

Part I: Part II: Part III: Part IV:   Development of the Mme. Butterfly Motif: Part V: setting--world expo
  The use of other "international" elements:
mixture of languages and places (e.g. Maurice on pp, 55-56),
Noh play; Dutch Red-Light District; Zen;
Prague in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park(106); Puppet show (Part VI);
the meeting of characters in Part VII (p. 141), and the garden (p. 139) 
-- Are they properly or meaningfully used?
Part VI Part VII  

  Plot Summary and Characters
Jana Capek: a Jewish artist who has experienced the concentration camp.

Seven Parts and their characters:


Special Thanks to ¦¿¨¬º¡ for the summary she did of the play;
on which the following summary is based.
Luke (-  around 1965)

? + Sarah Weber (-1943)
-- Jeffrey 1 (-1985)
-- Jeffrey 2 (-before 1997)
Walter + Patricia 
Lepage on Pierre (who appears in The Dragon Trilogy, The Seven Streams and The Confessional) from [Charest pp. 33-]:
-- his "alter ego";
-- Pierre's mother is called Francise Roberge before she married a Lamontagne;
-- "Pierre Lamontagne's name revealed both the littleness of the character and the vast scope of his ambitions."
-- "the entire Trilogy, the entire history that precedes im, becomes Pierre Lamontagne's inheritance."
-- "The movement in The Confessionalis in the opposite direction: Pierre investigates his family's past by seeking to make sense of his father's death and his brother's disappearance."
-- "In The Seven Streams of the River Ota, he finds himself in Japan and it's through him that the audience can make a connection with Japan and Japanese culture."
" He's all-purpose because he is relatively young and an artist, which allows us to place him almost anywhere, in almost any circumstances.  He's very flexible, very mobile character-- a blank character, in a way."

A few inconsistencies:
e.g. In Seven Streams - came to Japan in 1995 to study calligraphy
In The Confessional, he came back from China in 1989.
Moving Pictures
Luke O'Connor--American soldier from Houston
Nozomi--a Hibakusha (victim of atomic bombs)
time: 1945-46; place: Hiroshima
--the meeting of Luke and Nozomi; Luke in his attempt to take pictures of the house to show damages done by the atomic bombs.
-- p. 7 "Please, I thought you took pictures of physical damages."
Two Jeffreys
Jeffrey 1-- Luke's first son
Jeffrey 2-- Luke's son with Nozomi, a Jazz musician
Ada -- Dutch; student of music and in love with Jeffrey 1.
Karen -- the landlady
time: 1965; place: New York
-- the meeting of Jeffrey 1 and Jeffrey 2 in Karen's house, with noise from upstairs.
the past: 
-- Jeffrey 2's  birth (P2, scene 3 & 8)
-- Nozomi's death (P2, scene 12)
--Luke's anti-Americanism and leukemia (pp. 25; 30)
A Wedding
Jeffrey 1; Jeffrey 2; Ada; 
Hanako -- a translator and Jeffrey 2's wife (their son David, already 14)
Susan -- 
time: 1985; place: Amsterdam
-- Jeffrey 1 wants to marry Ada in order to have mercy killing (which is allowed in Holland). 
-- Ada remembering young Jeffrey 1.
-- Jeffrey 2 comes to meet his brother to accompany him in his mercy killing.
The Mirror
Ada (mentioning Jeffrey 2; Hanako)
older Jana

younger Jana 
Sarah Weber (played by Ada); a singer, Ada's mother
Maurice, a magician

time/place: 1986/Hiroshima; 1943/Terezin
-- Jana becomes a famous artist and has an exhibition in Tokyo; Ada invites her to Hiroshima [Ada is here with Jeffrey 2 after Jeffrey 1's death]
-- 1943: Jana and Sarah's friendship in a concentration camp; Maurice's magic show;
"Are all the people who have disappeared hiding behind mirrors?" p. 49
-- Sarah shows the kimono for Butterfly; tells the story of Butterfly and cries.  [Does she identify with Butterfly?]
--Sarah's death. 
-- Jana and Maurice's escape
-- ending: Sarah = Nozome - Butterfly
Sophie-- an actress; her Quebecois consciousness p. 89
Walter -- Canadian diplomat in Osaka
Patricia -- Walter's wife
time: 1970; place: Osaka -- photo booth and translator's booth
-- play within the play -- Feydeau's The Lady of Maxim (pp. 64-69); Sophie's affairs with Francois-Xavier and Walter, too? (p. 96)
-- phone booth -- 1. Sophie and Hanako p. 59-; 2. Sophie and Hanako p. 96- 
-- photo booth -- 1. Walter and Patricia 60; 2. Hanako and Jeffrey 2 p. 77; 3. Francois-Xavier; 4. Sophie and Hanako p. 99--who is the father of Sophie's child?
-- translator's booth -- translator appears on stage pp. 78-92; 96-99; translator's mistake p. 99
An Interview
time: 1995;  place: Hiroshima
-- puppet show ('Loyang Beauty,' play within the play, told by Jana): a Chinese story set in Song Dynasty; the invention of gunpowder
--the interview of Jana by Patricia--about how Jana chooses Hiroshima p. 106; 
-- Walter and Patricia, with puppets, about the possibility of going to China; 
-- Walter with Loyang beauty puppet; [suggesting Walter and Patricia's divorce]
-- Walter witnessing 1997 Hong Kong
David: son of Hanako and Jeffrey 2
Pierre: son of Sophie and Walter(?)
Walter; Hanako;
time: 1997;  place: Hiroshima
-- Walter takes Pierre to Hanako as a boarder
-- the mentioning of Jeffrey 2's death p. 124
-- dream 1: Nozomi in kimono; 2. Nozomi and Luke, and then Pierre
-- David back; 
-- Hanako's 60-yr-old party p. 131
-- David and Pierre in the same room; 
-- Hanako describing the garden; Pierre imitating Hanako
-- the meeting of Walter, Ada, Pierre, David, Sophie and Hanako.  David and Pierre talk about their family; Sophie and Hanako about Pierre's father (Walter).
-- Kimono dance: Pierre's dance with Hanako as the subject; 
Hanako holds kimono for -- Pierre 
Old Jana  holds kimono for -- Sarah
Luke -- Nozomi
Hanako -- Pierre
-- the ending (spreading of Jeffrey 2's ashes); the beginning (Luke and his camera)