The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 119 Updated Mar. 4, 2017
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: What new realms of physicality can “Floor Juggling” open up?
Akira TakayamaIn 2010, Akira Takayama and his team of artists introduced “The Complete Manual of Evacuation,” a theatrical project the set up “evacuation points” at locations around a city where “evacuees” (project participants) could discovered various communities, from religious facilities to collective and shared housing, homeless people, and even so-called “encounter cafés” as places to evacuate from the city they know and construct new relationships. In ways like this, Takayama is using his own physical research and the theatrical approach to create projects that expand the “architecture of theater” and connect it to society, while bringing together collaborating artists from various genres. In this interview Takayama talks about his activities up until his most recent project, “European Thinkbelt.”
Artist Interview: What new realms of physicality can “Floor Juggling” open up?
Hisashi WatanabeHisashi Watanabe (Company Atama to Kuchi) has emerged on the scene like a shooting star with a new type of performance that skirts the boundaries between contemporary dance and juggling, which he dubs “Floor Juggling.” His performances include ones titled Sakasa no Ki (Inverted Tree) that display a unique physicality combining amazing flexibility and control of his body and others like a duo piece with a juggler titled WHITEST. In this interview we seek the philosophy behind Watanabe’s unique physicality.
Artist Interview: Tadashi Miroku’s Opera Digitalyrica, Expanding the possibilities of electone organ performance
Tadashi MirokuTadashi Miroku is a countertenor who is also active as an opera director. Since 2003, he has been in charge of planning and directing opera productions mounted in the small hall (Yokosuka Bayside Pocket) of the Yokosuka Arts Theatre. In this capacity, Miroku has been recognized for his contribution to the spread of opera with “Digitalyrica” productions making use of the electone organ as a new instrument that brings with its new possibilities of musical expression in the genre. In this interview we explore the ideas behind Miroku’s artistic activities.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Yamamoto Noh Theatre and its Quest to be an “Open Noh Theater”
Yoshie Yamamoto
The Yamamoto Noh Theatre (Yamamoto Nohgakudo) is the oldest Noh theater in Osaka and one conducting some of the most progressive programs. These include “Street Noh,” collaborations with various non-Noh artists, a program of evening performances called “Kyoto-Osaka Traditional Performing Arts Night for Beginners” that present beginner audiences with programs bringing together a selection of different traditional performing arts of the Kyoto-Osaka area, and even the development of digital Noh apps. The theater has also embraced international exchange programs and through them has won the “Earth Citizen Award” of the Japan Foundation in 2015. In this interview, Yamamoto Noh Theatre Administrative Director, Yoshie Yamamoto, talks about the possibilities of the “Open Noh Theater” they are working to become.
Presenter Interview; A leader in the world of performing arts for people with disabilities   The quest of Jenny Sealey
Jenny Sealey
Jenny Sealey is the artistic director and CEO of the UK’s Graeae theater company for actors with disabilities, and served as co-director of the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony. Being hearing-impaired herself, Sealey continues her own creative work along with her efforts to help provide access into the performing arts for others with disabilities. This interview explores her unique activities.
Presenter Interview; Five Arts Centre  Emergence of a new generation of artists
Mark Teh
Established in 1983 in the multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual country of Malaysia, Five Arts Centre is a collective of artists and producers (and the winner of the 2016 Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists). In this interview, we talk with Mark Teh (born 1981), an artist who grew up in Malaysia’s era of high economic growth rate and is noted for such activities as leading the Baling Project that has gathered materials about the history of Malaysian independence. He talks about his activities at the forefront of this new generation of artists.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Dodome Yuki (Muddy-purple Snow) by Mitsunori Fukuhara
This is a family drama written by Mitsunori Fukuhara for actress Shoko Takada’s theater unit Tsukikage Jubanshobu. Drawing on Junichiro Tanizaki’s novel Sasameyuki (The Makioka Sisters), the play revolves around four sisters, each carrying the burdens of their own complex pasts, and while combining comical touches with both forgiving and critical viewpoints, it tells a story of how people seemingly living tranquil lives are gradually caught up in the manifestations of the realities they have chosen to ignore.
Play of the Month; Arakawa, God Killer Tune by Kana Yamada
Premiered in 2014 (restaged in 2016), this is a representative work of Kana Yamada, the leader of the theater company ROJI9 with an unlikely prior career as a promoter of a recording company. Set in a Karaoke room, it tells the story of Shoko Shibuya, a woman who has recently become a middle school teacher. With scenes switching between the past and present, she attempts to come to grips with the disillusionment that led her to give up her dream of becoming a manga artist and the self that she has never been able to show to her friends.
Play of the Month; San-san (Brilliance) by Ikue Osada
This is the latest play by Ikue Osada (born 1977), a playwright known for her plays about historical events or actual people in history based on thorough research. This play tells a story of youth with the actual daughter of the painter Katsushika Hokusai, whose name was O-ei and was also a painter in her own right (artist name Katsushika Ou-i), as the main character. The setting is the late Edo Period on the eve of the arrival of the “Black Ships” of American Commodore Perry that would force Japan to open itself to foreign trade and an ensuing influx of Western culture. Amid a backdrop of the vibrant lives of the common people, the story depicts the competition between O-ei and the other apprentices learning the art of painting under the master Hokusai until she, despite being a woman, is finally allowed by her father to take an artist’s name of her own.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Vital Arts
Established in 1996, Vital Arts is the arts support organization for Barts Health NHS Trust, the United Kingdom’s largest public service trust dedicated to the health and well-being of patients, medical staff and the wider medical community. With five hospitals in east London and over 2.5 million patients, Vital Arts sees these important civic spaces as ideal places to introduce a new audience to contemporary art by delivering programs of public art and a variety of other arts programs.
Arts Organization of the Month: Yayasan Sime Darby [Foundation]
Founded in 1982, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), or the Sime Darby Foundation, is the main large-scale philanthropic arm of the Malaysia-based multinational conglomerate Sime Darby Berhad. It offers support and scholarships in the five areas of Education, the Environment, Community & Health, Youth & Sports and Arts & Culture. Under its “Arts & Culture” pillar, YSD supports the preservation of Malaysia’s rich heritage of traditional arts, and since 2014 it organizes the Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival with the capital’s Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre as its main venue.
Arts Organization of the Month: Artichoke Trust
Artichoke is a charitable cultural organization founded in 2005 by the co-founders of the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, Helen Marriage and Nicky Webb, and it specializes in the organization and financing of large-scale outdoor performances. The organization’s programs are guided by the ideal of true “art for all people” that does not “take place only behind the closed doors of theatres or art galleries… [but] in unusual places: in the streets, public spaces or in the countryside.”
Japan Topics
The 61st (2017) Kishida Drama Award winner is Makoto Ueda’s Kiteketsukarubeki Shin Sekai   New! (Mar. 4, 2017)
TPAM in Yokohama 2017 (International Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama 2017) opens (Feb. 11 – 19, 2017)   Feb. 10, 2017
Yokohama Dance Collection 2017 held (Jan. 26 – Feb. 19, 2017)   Feb. 10, 2017
23rd OMS Drama Prize is awarded to Keisuke Fukuyama for Warui Kuse   Feb. 10, 2017
Agency for Cultural Affairs announces “2016 Japan Cultural Envoys”   Feb. 7, 2017
22nd Japan Playwrights Association New Playwright Prize goes to Kengo Minamide   Feb. 7, 2017
Presenter Topics
Australia’s Adelaide Festival opens (Mar. 3 – 19, 2017)   New! (Feb. 7, 2017)
45th Hong Kong Arts Festival opens (Feb. 16 – Mar. 18, 2017)   New! (Feb. 7, 2017)
Kick-off of the new theatrical arts festival Asia TOPA (Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts) in Melbourne (Jan. - Apr., 2017)   Nov. 24, 2016
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
Noism, RYUTOPIA’s residential company, to perform in two cities in Romania   New! (Jan. 19, 2017)
2016 – 2017 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   New! (Jan. 11, 2017)
2016 – 2017 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   New! (Jan. 11, 2017)
Wochi Kochi Magazine Vol. 058 “The World Expanded by Japanese Language”   New!