The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 102 Updated Jan. 28, 2015
Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: A new type of e-mail/texting generation theater   Actors interact with projected words
Suguru YamamotoSuguru Yamamoto (b. 1987) is a rising playwright and director. While a student at Japan’s Oberlin University in 2007, he started a theater company named Hanchu-Yuei. In 2013, he presented the play “Yojo X” (Girl X) staged with a screen on which the words spoken by unseen characters like the voice of god appear in text superimposed on the screen and interacting with the actors. Last year, Yamamoto and his group were invited to perform in Malaysia and Thailand amidst growing attention focused on their unique style. In this interview we speak with Yamamoto about his new theatrical challenge symbolic of the e-mail/texting generation.
Artist Interview: Another key part of the Ninagawa world   The stage art of Tsukasa Nakagoshi
Tsukasa NakagoshiTsukasa Nakagoshi first met director Yukio Ninagawa and began participating in productions of the experimental small-theater oriented company NINAGAWA STUDIO (1984 – 2008) as a child actor at the age of 12, and at the age of 22 he made his debut as a set designer for the company. Ever since, Ninagawa and Nakagoshi have continued to work together in creating stage art for some 110 productions. In this interview, Nakagoshi talks about the theatrical spaces he creates, which have included stepped sets, ones full of flowers or rain projecting a sense of the energy of the common people, and sets with mirrors that reflect the times or water surfaces and more.
Artist Interview: Ten years as a theater’s residential dance company   Noism’s decade of achievement
Jo KanamoriThe dance company Noism was established as the Ryutopia Niigata City Performing Arts Center’s residential dance company when the Center appointed Jo Kanamori (age 29 at the time) artistic director of its dance department. This year the company celebrates its tenth anniversary. In 2009, the trainee company Noism 2 was established. In this interview, Kanamori talks about Noism’s decade of activities and how the company has remained a leader in Japanese contemporary dance with its professional approach to physicality and contemporary awareness.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Nurturing theater and music in Malaysia  Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac)
Joe Hasham, Dato’ Faridah Merican
Fifty years since the country’s founding, Malaysia now has a thriving performing arts scene. A central driving force in this movement is klpac, which was opened in 2005 as the country’s first full-fledged private sector theater. The Centre is managed by The Actors Studio, a groups that started out as a theater company in 1989 and went on to open its own small theater in 1995 and has continued to be a leading presence in the country’s independent theater scene ever since. To learn about the activities of klpac as a mentor for young theater people and an active presenter of foreign artists, as well as the activities in community orchestra, we spoke with Joe Hasham, the Centre’s OAM (Artistic Director) and Dato’ Faridah Merican, its Executive Producer.
Presenter Interview; Promoting “prison theater” Berlin’s aufBruch theater project
Peter Atanassow
Set in an Italian prison, the movie “Cesare deve morire” (Caesar Must Die) follows convicts in their rehearsals in preparation for a prison performance of Julius Caesar. The promoter and producer of such “prison theater” in Germany is the Berlin theater project aufBruch. Prison theater as a means to actively support convicts’ successful return to society after their prison terms is a movement that dates back to Germany’s Weimar Republic era. In this interview we speak with aufBruch’s resident playwright, Peter Atanassow, about prison theater.
Presenter Interview; The National Theatre of Scotland and its “Theatre Without Walls” vision
Laurie Sansom
The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) is known as the pioneer of the concept of a national theatre without a permanent theatre facility. It is also a theatre with a strong local focus, as evidenced by its Five Minute Theatre series focused on the debate surrounding the Scottish independence referendum (Sept. 18, 2014) that saw performances held in 200 locations around Scotland. In this interview, the second NTS artistic director, Laurie Sansom, talks about the challenges of “Theatre Without Walls” and its accomplishments.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; “Yojo X (Girl X)” by Suguru Yamamoto
This is a play presented in 2013 by the rising playwright and director Suguru Yamamoto, leader of the acclaimed theater company Hanchu-Yuei. The play is staged in a unique style using words and text superimposed on the stage background that the actors interact with. The setting is Tokyo in 2013, at a time when a series of rape-murders of young girls has been occurring. The characters include a “sister” who lives with her rich husband and small daughter in a luxury tower apartment, her impoverished “younger brother” and others including a “man,” who is her former boyfriend and now wanders in search of an “Enemy.” Their stories express the air of anxiety that hovers over contemporary life.
Play of the Month; “Minami no Shima ni Yuki ga Furu (Snow falls on the South Seas island)” by Mitsunori Fukuhara
This is a play adapted for the stage by playwright and director Mitsunori Fukuhara from the novel by the actor Daisuke Kato based on his experiences as a soldier in World War II. It is a story of group of highly individualistic men who survived the harsh conditions of war by turning their passion to theater. This play was staged in small theater tent that smelled of the earth by the theater unit Bed & Makings with actor Koichiro Tomioka.
Play of the Month; “Nineteen-year-old Jacob” by Shu Matsui (based on the novel by Kenji Nakagami)
The novelist Kenji Nakagami is known for his works that took subjects from the hard lives of people in the ghetto backstreets of his hometown of Kumano with their strong bonds and the strength with which they clung to life despite their hardships. Twenty years after his death he remains a popular and charismatic literary figure. For this play, the Kishida Drama Award-winning playwright Shu Matsui adapts Nakagami’s partly biographical novel “Nineteen-year-old” Jacob for the stage. The story is re-set in an urban setting that resembles an area near the Shinjuku district of Tokyo in the late 1960s. The main character Jacob is a young man with a troubled past who wallows in a world of drugs and sex, and hangs out at a jazz café with his friend Yuki, a young man who, despite being the son and heir of a major corporation, dreams of social revolution.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Open Network for Performing Arts Management (ON-PAM)
Established in 2013, the Open Network for Performing Arts Management (ON-PAM) is a membership-type network of performing arts makers and managers dedicated to connecting the artists, arts organizations and the audiences. It currently has approximately 150 member organizations and individuals active around Japan, including public and private-sector theaters, production companies and related professionals, free-lance producers and others. Plans call for ON-PAM to officially receive status as a non-profit organization (NPO) this year.
Arts Organization of the Month: Artsadmin
Artsadmin is an NPO committed to a vision of being an arts lab for the 21st Century for the creation of performance, site-specific and interdisciplinary work, where the innovative, experimental and unusual are nurtured. Artsadmin is receiving around £530,000 (approx. 78 million yen)—equivalent to around 50% of its annual operating budget—from Arts Council England as a regularly funded organisation.
Arts Organization of the Month: Arts Council Tokyo
In line with amendments to the Tokyo Metropolitan government’s directives for the promotion of culture, the “Tokyo Council for the Arts” was established in 2007 as an agency under the jurisdiction of the Governor’s Office. Based on a proposal by this agency, the Arts Council Tokyo was established within the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture in November of 2012 as Japan’s first full-fledged organization following the internationally acknowledged template of an “arts council,” with the aim of developing and promoting arts and culture.
Japan Topics
TPAM in Yokohama 2015 (follow-up report): Foreign presenters for Japan Foundation and Asia Center invitation decided   New! (Feb. 10, 2015)
TPAM in Yokohama opens Feb. 7, 2015   New! (Feb. 10, 2015)
Lineup announced for Yokohama Dance Collection EX2015 in the event”s 20th holding (Jan. 31 – Feb. 15, 2015)   New! (Jan. 29, 2015)
Agency of Cultural Affairs announces its “2014 East Asia Cultural Ambassadors”   Dec. 9, 2014
Asian Performing Arts Festival opens (Nov. 28 – 30, 2014)   Nov. 27, 2014
“TPAM in Yokohama 2015”: Open application now being accepted for the registration for the ”TPAM Showcase”   Sep. 21, 2014
The “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize of the 9th “Toyota Choreography Awards 2014” goes to Mikiko Kawamura   Aug. 11, 2014
New National Theatre 2014/2015 Season Lineup Announced   Nov. 28, 2014
English version of “THEATER IN JAPAN: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists” published
Artist interview collection from this website, “Energizing Japanese Culture: The Performing Arts in Japan,” released!
Presenter Topics
Hong Kong Arts Festival opens (Feb. 27 – Mar. 29, 2015)   New! (Feb. 12, 2014)
New York’s international theater festival Under the Radar (Jan. 7 – 18, 2015)   Feb. 9, 2014
APAP | NYC 2015 opens (Jan. 9 – 13, 2015)   Jan. 18, 2014
CULTURESCAPES TOKYO 2014 opened September 27th, 2014   Nov. 28, 2014
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
Japan Foundation 2014-15 (second application period) foreign exchange grant recipients announced   New! (Oct. 8, 2014)
Performing arts support program “Performing Arts Japan” (PAJ) accepts grant application period for 2015 – 2016   New! (Oct. 8, 2014)
Japan Foundation 2014-15 (first application period) foreign exchange grant recipients announced   Jun. 13, 2014
2014 – 2015 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   Jun. 2, 2014
2014 – 2015 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   Jun. 2, 2014
Overview of “THEATER IN JAPAN: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists”   Jun. 9, 2010