Rutland hosted an unlikely group of Japanese celebrities and
their film crew earlier this month. They came to film a segment of
the Iron Guild's performances at Mac Steel in Rutland. The Japanese
film crew is from the immensely popular extreme travel show that is
seen by 15 million people every Sunday night across Japan. "Itte Q"
has been on Japanese TV for about five years on the Nippon network
(which is approximately equivalent to NBC in America.)
How did this come to be? The best guild members can guess, is
that someone affiliated with the show stumbled across some footage
of the Iron Guild performances at Mac Steel in Rutland and
recognized the potential. The production team then contacted the
Guild and flew a crew to Vermont film the melting iron and the
dramatic performance art that has come to accompany the Guild's
Matt Stone and a group of students at Massachusetts College of
Art in Boston formed the Iron Guild in 2003. Stone was first
exposed to the craft of cast iron during the summer he interned at
the Carving Studio in West Rutland and worked with Rutland native
Glenn Campbell. Stone then returned to Mass Arts and began building
iron furnaces on campus with other students.
Campbell went down and became involved in Stone's student group
and they soon began incorporating performance art into their iron
pours on campus. Subsequent shows were at Rutland's Carving Studio,
First Night celebrations and Mac Steel. Halloween shows have become
a regular part of the fun as well. For the last several years, the
Guild has performed on Halloween at the Scrap Yard in Providence,
"At First Night we carved an ice Viking boat and then poured
iron oars into the boat, it was really cool," Campbell recalled of
an early show. "As the years go by we put more and more theater
into the show. Instead of just throwing iron around, it is kind of
like going to a play. We have scenes that are calculated."
Itte Q got a taste of what the Iron Guild does and the special
properties of iron, safety procedures and what goes into planning a
performance. Elizabeth Cantrell, a guild member, said they were a
bit underwhelmed at first.
"The film crew was pushing us to really show them and 'wow'
them," she said. "We told them that none of it looks very exciting
until you get the molten iron in a dark setting. There was a little
bit of discouragement until Saturday night when we got both of the
furnaces going. That night they were very excited and happy with
the footage they were getting. It was very different for the Iron
Guild because we are used to having total autonomy when it comes to
creativity and timing. In this case the film crew and the director
had really specific ideas about what they wanted to see and when.
We had to focus more on the goals of the film crew than the goals
of ourselves or a live audience."
Itte Q will make you chuckle with its unique brand of over the
top theatrics. The show is hosted by Tetsurō Degawa a comedian and
representative of the so-called "reaction entertainers." His
favorite phrase is "Yabaiyo, yabaiyo! or "It's dangerous,
dangerous!" This is fitting for a show whose stars have taken the
plunge in the icy waters of Iceland, visited an Indonesian water
buffalo festival and eaten insanely hot peppers in Mexico.
At the Iron Guild, the host stood under a special umbrella while
200 pounds of molten iron rained down on him. As with any Iron
Guild spectacle, sparks and fire that surpass any fireworks display
were in abundance. Yabaiyo yabaiyo! indeed.
The silliness and the dramatic fiery mayhem that took place at
the Iron Guild is expected to air on Itte Q next month.
Photo by Nathan Allen
Photo courtesy of the Iron Guild