The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 125 Updated Oct. 17, 2017
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: Traditional Kyoto Dance Artist Yasuko Inoue and her vision as a young successor of the art
Traditional Kyoto dance of the Inoue school is the style of dance long performed by the trained performing apprentice Geisha, called Maiko, of the Gion Kobu district, the traditional Geisha quarter of Kyoto. Since this style was established as a school of dance in the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) with influences from Kamigata dance, Noh and the dance of the puppets in Joruri puppet performance, etc., this style of dance has been taught by a succession of female dance artists/instructors from generation to generation. Yasuko Inoue (b. 1988) is the young successor to this line. Raised in a family where her mother, Yachiyo Inoue, is a Living National Treasure who carried on the tradition through the dramatic social changes of her time, and her father is Tetsunojou Kanze IX, successor to the Kanze school of Noh, Inoue spoke with us about her vision of the world of Inoue-school dance.
Artist Interview: The vision of Yutaka Kuramochi   A fascination with people and the world
Tetsuya UmedaTetsuya Umeda (b. 1980) is an artist who uses ubiquitous things and devices from daily life, like water, stone, electric light bulbs and fans to generate “phenomena” with sounds and movement we have never heard or seen before. In recent years he has used people from the general public to create performances, and this May he was invited to present his work at Belgium’s Kunstenfestivaldesarts, as evidence of the growing international interest in his work. In this interview we delve into Umeda’s world for a glimpse of the inspiration behind the “phenomena” he generates with things and people.
Artist Interview: The vision of Yutaka Kuramochi   A fascination with people and the world
Yutaka KuramochiActive as a writer and director of everything from commercial theater to small-theater productions, and as leader of the theater company Penguin Pull Pale Piles, Yutaka Kuramochi writes on commission in varied styles, from cynical comedy to plays based on Kabuki, Noh, novels and manga works. This interview delves into the art of Kuramochi that creates situations full of the enjoyment fiction can offer and character development that reveals perceptive observation of our world.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Seeking to Build Society Through Art  The Cambodian Circus, Phare
Dara Huot
The Kingdom of Cambodia was established in 1993 after years of war and unrest. One of the international non-government organizations (NGOs) that has worked for the country’s recovery is Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), which founded a school in an impoverished area to spread art education. In 2013, PPS also established a social enterprise named Cambodian Circus, Phare to run an original, uniquely Cambodian circus that has become a very successful tourism business. In this interview we speak with the circus’ founder and CEO, Dara Huot.
Presenter Interview; Yoshie Kurisu (SLOW LABEL) Working toward a society without the word disabled
Yoshie Kurisu
SLOW LABEL is an NPO engaged in a new type of movement that brings together the disabled, artists and specialists. Its activities include the “Slow Factory” where anyone can interact with others through the creative work of constructing things, the Yokohama Paratriennale that seeks new kinds of artistic expression and “Social Circus” program development and efforts to nurture specialists to support forms of artistic expression for the disabled. In this interview with SLOW LABEL’s founder and director Yoshie Kurisu, we learn about her activities and how she has overcome her own disability to re-establish a vital and active life.
Presenter Interview; Manchester Age-friendly City   A new role for arts and culture
Esme Ward
In the City of Manchester, UK an Age-friendly Manchester (AFM) has been initiated as a partnership of organizations, groups and individuals playing their part in making Manchester a great place to grow older. The Strategic Lead of Culture for AFM is Esme Ward (Director of Learning and Engagement Department, The Whitworth/Manchester Museum). In this interview Ward talks about the new role of the arts and culture in AFM programs.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Chiten no Kimi by Ken Furukawa
This play is a representative work (premiered 2013) of Ken Furukawa, the resident writer of the theater company Chocolate Cake, known for his works that take their subjects from actual historical events. It is a work in which Setsuko, the wife of the Taisho Emperor, who ruled as the 123rd Emperor of Japan for 15 years from 1912 to 1926, looks back over her husband’s life as the person he was. Through this figure of the Emperor, the play portrays this era of modern Japanese society, and its premiere production won the 21st Yomiuri Drama Awards Grand Prix. Since then, it has been restaged numerous times.
Play of the Month; Orebushi (My Ballade) by Mitsunori Fukuhara
This play takes as its theme the traditional-style Japanese popular songs (known as enka) that sang of the hearts and feelings of the common people of Japan in the Showa Period (1926 – 1989) and brought solace to their lives in good times and bad. It is a play based on the manga of Seiki Tsuchiya by the same title that tells the story of the life of a young man named Koji who comes to Tokyo from the country with the dream of becoming an enka singer and sets it against a background of the famous enka songs of his day. Playwright and director Mitsunori Fukuhara has adapted the original Seiki Tsuchida manga for the stage. Through the clumsy and pathetic struggles of the crude and unbearably honest character Koji to realize his dream, the play succeeds brilliantly in capturing the essence of the enka genre.
Play of the Month; Song of the Cicada by Kenji Higashi
This is the most recent play by Kenji Higashi (b. 1964), a playwright who has written many works set in places like the coalmining town where he grew up in the northern part of Japan’s island of Kyushu. In this play, the main character is an old woman who has lived through the last decades of the Heisei Period after being taken in by a shipping company on the banks of the Onga River. The play tells the story of the life of this old woman surrounded by the changing faces of Japanese society from the post-WWII years through Japan’s era of high economic growth.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Urban Heat
In Europe, the cultural and creative sectors play an important economic role. This is a four-year project launched in 2015 with funding from Creative Europe, the European Union’s program to protect diversity and stimulate creativity (the project’s office is set up in the offices of London’s LIFT festival). It is operated by a network of 12 European festivals in 11 countries and strives to support artists in their work to connect the arts to a broader social base.
Arts Organization of the Month: Onassis Foundation
One of Europe’s largest privately funded foundations, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation was established in December 1975 in accordance with the last wish of one of the 20th century's biggest shipping magnates, Aristotle Onassis, to honor the memory of his son Alexander, who had already died in an airplane accident. The foundation’s activities cover a broad range of fields and disciplines, including the arts and culture, in which it supports a large number of projects. In 2010, the Foundation opened the Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens, a comprehensive facility for the promotion of arts and culture.
Arts Organization of the Month: COAL (Coalition for Art and Sustainable Development)
COAL (Coalition for Art and Sustainable Development) is a French public interest organization founded in 2008 with the aim of supporting artistic activities in the struggle against climate change, where creative measures are needed. The organization’s activities promote from a variety of perspectives art that addresses ecology and environmental issues. Co-founder and Director of COAL is Lauranne Germond.
Japan Topics
10th Festival/Tokyo 17 Opens (Sept. 30 – Nov. 12, 2017)   New! (Oct. 10, 2017)
KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2017 opens (Oct. 14 – Nov. 5, 2017)   New! (Oct. 10, 2017)
Presenter Topics
46th Le Festival d’Automne à Paris (Paris Autumn Festival) held (Sept. 13 – Dec. 31, 2017)   New! (Sep. 19, 2017)
70th Edinburgh International Festival held (Aug. 7 – 28, 2017)   Sep. 19, 2017
29th Berlin international dance festival Tanz im August held (Aug. 11 – Sep. 2, 2017)   Sep. 19, 2017
The 71st Avignon Festival held in France (Jul. 6 – 26, 2017)   Sep. 19, 2017
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
2017 – 2018 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   New! (Jun. 14, 2017)
2017 – 2018 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   New! (Jun. 14, 2017)
Wochi Kochi Magazine Vol. 060 “CGP/Abe Fellowship Program 25th Anniversary”   New!