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: OiBokkeShi’s Naoki Sugawara and his theme of “aging and theater”
Naoki SugawaraAs the leader of the theater group OiBokkeShi and also a certified care-giver, Naoki Sugawara’s activities include confront the issues of aging, senility and death in the theatrical context using elderly actors, and also holding workshops for care-givers who work with victims of senility. After a career as an actor with Seinendan, Sugawara moved to Okayama Prefecture where he started OiBokkeShi and began his newly focused activities in the town of Nagicho. In this interview with Sugawara we hear about his approach in pioneering new possibilities in theater.
Artist Interview: Traditional Kyoto Dance Artist Yasuko Inoue and her vision as a young successor of the art
Yasuko InoueTraditional 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.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Battersea Arts Centre and its experiments as A public theatre specifically in the service of the locality
David Jubb
Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) occupies the impressive old building formerly the town hall of the south London borough of Battersea that was repurposed as a community centre and theatre. Since 2004, theatre producer David Jubb has served as its artistic director. Since then, together with his former co-artistic director Tom Morris, Jubb and BAC have pioneered a method of creating arts works it dubs Scratch, which draws local people, from adults to children, to initiate and pursue creative activities at BAC, effectively forging an entirely new type of community-oriented public theatre.
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 Kris (SLOW LABEL) Working toward a society without the word disabled
Yoshie Kris
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 Kris, we learn about her activities and how she has overcome her own disability to re-establish a vital and active life.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Kodomo no Jijo (The Kids’ World) by Koki Mitani
This is the latest play by the popular playwright Koki Mitani. It is set in the early 1960s when Mitani himself was a schoolboy, and the characters are all 4th-grade students in Class #3 of the Kusu Elementary School. They are all classmates who call each other by their nicknames. The narrator, who we can imagine to be Mitani as a child, and eight of his classmates, each with their unique character, are squabbling and maneuvering to decide who will have which duties in the class, and the machinations take on the nature of a microcosm of adult society and politics. In the play’s premiere, all of the school children were played by adult actors, and frequent songs and live piano playing added to the lively air of the play’s nostalgic depiction of the free and easy joys of childhood.
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.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Urban Heat
Komunitas Salihara is a privately run comprehensive arts center presenting programs of multidisciplinary arts from music, dance and theater to literature, film, fine arts and more in Jakarta, Indonesia. Founded in 2008 as a platform for Indonesian culture, Komunitas Salihara engages in a wide variety of programs such as Salihara International Performing Arts Festival, Salihara Theaterfest, Salihara Dancefest and Salihara Literary Biennale.
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.
Japan Topics
10th Festival/Tokyo 17 Opens (Sept. 30 – Nov. 12, 2017)   Oct. 10, 2017
KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2017 opens (Oct. 14 – Nov. 5, 2017)   Oct. 10, 2017
Presenter Topics
New York’s international theater festival Under the Radar (Jan. 4 – 15, 2018)   New! (Jan. 5, 2018)
South India’s 10th International Theatre Festival of Kerala held (Jan. 20 – 28, 2018)   New! (Jan. 5, 2018)
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
ART ARCHIVE published as an English-language e-book series introducing the Philippine arts scene   New! (Nov. 30, 2017)
2017 – 2018 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   Jun. 14, 2017
2017 – 2018 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   Jun. 14, 2017
Wochi Kochi Magazine Vol. 061 “Regional Cultural Assets and International Exchange”   New!