The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 99 Updated Jul. 31, 2014
Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: National Theatre Okinawa  A new Artistic Director and his Kumiodori spirit
Michihiko Kakazu“Kumiodori” is a traditional form of dance theater that was originally created as entertainment for emissary missions called “Sakuhoshi” that came to the Ryukyu Kingdom (present day Okinawa) regularly on behalf of the Chinese emperor. In January of 2004, the “National Theatre Okinawa” was opened in the city of Urazoe, Okinawa with the mission of preserving the unique Okinawan arts of kumiodori, traditional Ryukyu dance and Ryukyu music. In this interview we speak with Michihiko Kakazu, a young artist in his thirties who has recently assumed the post of the Theatre’s second artistic director.
Artist Interview: The strategy of Yuichi Kinoshita, taking Kabuki into the future
Yuichi KinoshitaThe Kinoshita-Kabuki company began activities in 2006, based in Kyoto. Its leader is Yuichi Kinoshita, an emerging figure in the theater world who is also a graduate student (born 1985) in the doctorate course of Kyoto University of Art & Design doing research on “Takechi Kabuki Theory – Concerning new Kabuki directing in the modern era.” His early encounter with Japanese “Rakugo” (Japanese sit-down comedy) as a 3rd grader in elementary school led to a growing interest in Japanese traditional performing arts. As adaptations of works from the traditional repertoire for direction by contemporary theater directors, he has presented new versions of classics such as “Kurozuka” and “Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan”. These efforts have produced revolutionary results. This interview seeks to reveal Kinoshita’s methodology.
Artist Interview: Theater as the Play of Life  The World of Soh Kitamura
Soh KitamuraThe recipient of the 17th Tsuruya Namboku Memorial Award for drama, judged by a panel of theater journalists, is Soh Kitamura for his play “Goodbye”, the first of series of plays Kitamura is writing as homage to Japanese literature. With works like “Hogiuta” (Ode to Joy), a play depicting a post-nuclear-Holocaust world, Kitamura was one of the leaders of the small theater boom of the 1980s from his base in the Kansai region. In this interview he talks about his current Japanese Literature Theater project and his more than 20 years of efforts in education of the next generation young playwrights.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; deSingel and its achievements as an international center for the arts in Antwerp
Myriam De Clopper
deSingel opened in Antwerp in 1980 as a comprehensive facility for the arts centered around an existing arts school (conservatoire). Under the direction of Frie Leysen, known as the founder of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, deSingel became an arts center of international renown. In this interview we learn about the history of achievements and present activities of deSingel by speaking with Myriam De Clopper, who currently serves as director of the performing arts department.
Presenter Interview; CULTURESCAPES  Depicting the topographies of culture
Jurriaan Cooiman
In 2014, a variety of events are planned in Japan and Switzerland to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of political relations between the two countries. One of these is an event named CULTURESCAPES Tokyo 2014 to be held in Switzerland (Sept. 27 – Nov. 22). In this long interview, the founder and continuing director of CULTURESCAPES, Jurriaan Cooiman, speaks about the aims and significance of this festival as a cultural event that focuses each time on one particular country, city or region from multiple perspectives.
Presenter Interview; Malaysia’s Kakiseni, A platform for the performing arts
Low Ngai Yuen
Kakiseni means “absorbed in the arts” in Malaysian. It was launched in 2001 as the only online performing arts platform in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic country with its Malay, Chinese-Malaysian and Indian-Malaysian and other ethnic populations. Today it is an organization involved in a wide range of programs supporting and promoting the arts, including awards, festivals, international exchange programs and grant giving. In this interview we hear about the organization’s strategies and activities from its second director, Low Ngai Yuen.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; “Watashi wo Hanasanaide (Never Let Me Go)” by Yutaka Kuramochi (from the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro)
The international best-selling novel “Never Let Me Go” (Japanese translation title: Watashi wo Hanasanaide) by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro has been adapted for the stage with the setting changed to Japan. The play depicts a world where it has become common practice for people to create clones of themselves for the purpose of eventually harvesting organs for transplant. In it, we see how the clone children live out the time of their limited lives with quiet diligence in the face of their inevitable fates.
Play of the Month; “Koritsu no Yusen (Priority on efficiency)” by Kenji Yamauchi
This play is one of the short-listed works for the 58th Kishida Drama Award (2013). Its author is the playwright and director Kenji Yamauchi, who is also a popular award-winning TV commercial director. The play is set in a contemporary open-style office where the conversations of the employees are packed with marketing lingo. In the intense work pace of the Planning Department room, the rules of business come undone and love-hate dramas erupt among the employees, eventually leading to eccentric behavior.
Play of the Month; “Blue Sheet” by Norimizu Ameya
This play is the winner of the 58th Kishida Drama Award. It was written by Norimizu Ameya in collaboration with students of the Fukushima Prefectural Iwaki Sogo High School, a school that has achieved outstanding results since adopting theater as part of its curriculum. Through a series of fragmented conversations and monologues, the play paints a vivid picture of individual memories of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant accident as they remain in the people’s hearts, and scenes of life today in the towns of the stricken area.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Tanzlabor_21
Tanzlabor_21 is a dance platform that was created originally in Frankfurt in 2006 as part of a five-year funding program by Tanzplan Deutschland, an initiative of Germany’s Federal Cultural Foundation. In German, labor means a laboratory or research institute and Tanzlabor_21 has continued to work through its multiple and interrelated programs to successfully develop dance as a contemporary art form and help give it a more prominent role in public life in Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region.
Arts Organization of the Month; Kakiseni (Malaysia)
Kakiseni is a non-profit performing arts platform in Malaysia. It was originally launched in 2001 by Jenny Daneels and Kathy Rowland as a portal website where artists and arts professionals could exchange information, Then in 2009, it was re-launched under the directorship of Low Ngai Yuen and began expanding the scope and variety of its programs. Today, its main programs include international exchange projects, festivals and a comprehensive grants program.
Arts Organization of the Month; German Federal Culture Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes)
Kulturstiftung des Bundes (the German Federal Culture Foundation) was established in 2002 by the German federal government as a foundation to promote and fund art and culture. Its headquarters are in Halle an der Saale, Germany. Differing from the arts and culture foundations in the various states of Germany, the Federal Culture Foundation has a central emphasis on the promotion of innovative programs and projects in an international context. The annual budget of the Foundation is currently 35 million Euros. In addition to its comprehensive support of projects on an international level, its support also extends to a variety of other programs.
Japan Topics
The “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize of the 9th “Toyota Choreography Awards 2014” goes to Mikiko Kawamura   New! (Aug. 11, 2014)
Lineup announced for the reorganized Festival/Tokyo 14   New! (Aug. 11, 2014)
The new dance festival “Dance New Air” starts (Sept. 12 – Oct. 5, 2014)   New! (Aug. 7, 2014)
The 58th (2014) Kishida Drama Award winner is Norimizu Ameya’s “Blue Sheet”   Mar. 12, 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
ImPulsTanz - Vienna International Dance Festival opens (Jul. 17 – Aug. 17, 2014)   New! (Jul. 31, 2014)
Avignon Festival opened with new director (Jul. 4 – 27, 2014)   New! (Jul. 31, 2014)
The international theater festival Theater der Welt is held (May 23 – June 8, 2014)   Jul. 1, 2014
Feature festival program “Japan Syndrome” held at Berlin’s HAU (Hebbel am Ufer) (May 20 – 29, 2014)   Jul. 1, 2014
Kunstenfestivaldesarts 2014 held (May 2 – 24, 2014)   Jul. 1, 2014
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
National Theatre Okinawa to Perform in South America – Male dance troupe performance brings new perspectives to Ryukyuan arts (Aug. 20 – 29, 2014)   New! (Aug. 4, 2014)
Japan Foundation 2014-15 (first application period) foreign exchange grant recipients announced   New! (Jun. 13, 2014)
2014 – 2015 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   New! (Jun. 2, 2014)
2014 – 2015 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   New! (Jun. 2, 2014)
Overview of “THEATER IN JAPAN: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists”   Jun. 9, 2010