The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 124 Updated Aug. 28, 2017
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
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.
Artist Interview: Motoi Miura and Chiten  New Developments from the Studio
Motoi MiuraMotoi Miura and his theater company Chiten are known for theater-making based on dissection and recomposing of texts and the unique verbalization of its actors. In 2013, they opened a new studio in Kyoto named Underthrow, from which they have worked actively to create and perform a repertoire of works. In this interview, Miura talks about his recent activities, including once-a-year joint productions with Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) and joint work with musicians.
Presenter Interview
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.
Presenter Interview; Théâtre de Gennevilliers  A bridge to Contemporary Japanese Theater
Daniel Jeanneteau
France’s Théâtre de Gennevilliers has a tradition of exchange with contemporary Japanese theater-makers. Its new director since January 2017, Daniel Jeanneteau, is one of the leading directors on the French contemporary theater scene, and one who has visited Japan numerous times to direct productions, such as Blind Spot using Japanese actors at the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC). In this interview Jeanneteau talks about future projects and the relationship with Japan.
Play of the Month
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.
Play of the Month; PORTAL by Shinichiro Hayashi
This play was produced through a collaboration, with the script written by Shinichiro Hayashi, leader of the Osaka-based theater company Kyokuto Taikutsu Dojo, and direction by the late Yukichi Matsumoto (Ishinha). The subject is the city of Toyonaka, a “satellite city” of Osaka. Taking as its motifs a computer game called “PORTAL,” which is a puzzle game that involves opening holes in walls to go to another dimension, and a territory-capturing game named “ingress” that takes realistic contemporary cityscapes as its setting, the play creates a contemporary myth. It was the last work of Matsumoto, who passed away on June 18, 2016.
Arts Organization of the Month
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.
Arts Organization of the Month: Sidney Myer Fund and The Myer Foundation
The Sydney Myer Fund and the Myer Foundation are private philanthropic organizations committed to support of programs for the arts and humanities, education, alleviating poverty and supporting the disadvantaged and the environment and sustainability. An Australian of Jewish lineage and a committed advocate of the arts, Sydney Myer founded the Fund in 1934 as a means to continue to contribute to the advancement of arts and culture in Australia. In 1952, his sons founded the Myer Foundation to further contribute to projects in science and technology and the environment.
Japan Topics
World Theatre Festival Shizuoka under Mt. Fuji 2017 (Apr. 28 – May 7, 2017)   Apr. 25, 2017
The New National Theatre, Tokyo Announces 2017/2018 Season Schedule   Apr. 25, 2017
The 61st (2017) Kishida Drama Award winner is Makoto Ueda’s Kiteketsukarubeki Shin Sekai   Mar. 4, 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!