The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Jan. 5, 2018
Japan Topics
10th Festival/Tokyo 17 Opens (Sept. 30 – Nov. 12, 2017)
Tokyo’s performing arts festival Festival/Tokyo 17 (F/T17) is being held for the 10th time in 2017, and its theme is “Newcomers, Towards a Big Place.” It will be held over 44 days beginning September 30th with the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre as the main venue and numerous other venues in tie-ups with the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo.
The main contents of the organizers’ program consist of 14 invited works, beginning with the opening program Toky Toki Saru conceived and directed by Thai choreographer Pichet Klunchun as a work in what for him represents a new field of endeavor: performance art. Participating in it will be dancers selected from around Asia and people from the general public. No reservations were required and admission was free to encourage as many people as possible to attend and participate.
The Asia Series this time too China as its feature country and focused on young artists under the title “China New Power: Chinese Millenials.” Among the works presented are a new work of performance conceived, directed by Tianzhou Chen (b. 1985) titled “Trayastrimsa” that fuses ancient culture with the contemporary club culture, and a work written and directed by Xiaoxing Sun (b. 1986) titled “Loves Labor’s Lost” that portrays young people in a fantasy world where the real and the virtual intersect. There will also be first Japan performances by three groups of musicians and talks on a variety of culture subjects.
From Japan, Yukio Shiba makes his first appearance at Festival/Tokyo with a new work In our distance there is no sorrow, a story on the subject of distance told simultaneously in two different versions at two theaters next to each other at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. This work is a joint production with Taipei Performing Arts Center (planned opening in 2019) and plans call for collaboration with musicians and costume designers from Taiwan.
The project “Performing Fukushima” of Masataka Matsuda’s Marebito Theatre Company that delves into the depths of common memory of the Fukushima community by staging plays written by a number of different writers. Also, Matsuda serves as curator for the new project to seek out and nurture young theater makers titled “Theatre for Experimentation and Dialogue: Theatre of Newcomers and Incidents.”
In addition, in the “F/T in the City Performance Series” that takes theater out of the theater, performances include Shigeki Nakano + Frankens presents a new work based on the period novel Halfway to Hanshichi, which will be performed in Matsudo in Chiba, just across the river from Tokyo. Also in this series are works by Takeshi Fukuda, Mai Endo, Eiki Mori and FAIFAI.
+Festival/Tokyo (F/T)

KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2017 opens (Oct. 14 – Nov. 5, 2017)
KYOTO EXPERIMENT is a contemporary performing arts festival organized in Kyoto. 2017 marks its eighth holding and it will run from Oct. 14 for 23 days, with the ROHM Theatre Kyoto as its main venue. Since Kyoto has been the host city of the Culture City of East Asia program organized by the national governments of Japan, China and South Korea, this festival also programs performances by artists from these three countries along with cultural exchange programs.
The programming of KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2017 is themed around encounters with the “inner other” and consists of a lineup of 12 works. Making his debut at Kyoto Experiment is a German contemporary music composer Heiner Goebbels, presenting the Japan premiere of his signature music theater work Black on White. Also, returning again this year after last year’s appearance is the Trisha Brown Dance Company of the late choreographer Trisha Brown who passed away this March. They will be performing a commemorative program of three works for the theater. And making his third appearance at KYOTO EXPERIMENT is Brazilian choreographer Marcelo Evelin presenting a new work that draws inspiration from Butoh pioneer Tatsumi Hijikata’s book Yameru Maihime (Ailing Dancing Girl).
Also, as part of the program of the Culture City of East Asia 2017 Kyoto, KYOTO EXPERIMENT invites artists from China and South Korea for the first time. Attention focuses here on the countries’ emerging contemporary theater makers. A leading figure in China’s theater scene popular with millennial-generation audiences, the playwright, director and critic Xiaoxing Sun presents his newest work depicting the intrusion of the virtual world into contemporary reality. From South Korea, Minhee Park is a vocalist trained in traditional Korean gagok who performs her own modern adaptations.
From the Japanese artists on the program, attention focuses on a number of world premieres by some of today’s top emerging artists. Currently residing in Argentina since the autumn of last year, playwright and director Yudai Kamisato (Okazaki Art Theatre) presents a new work based on material gathered there. The director and video artist Takuya Murakawa presents a new work based on research in China and South Korea. Also, sculptor Teppei Kaneuji teams with actor Izumi Aoyagi and others to present a work for the stage. Other works include among others four-time participant in this festival sound artist Ryoji Ikeda and a research project conducts primarily by designers and architects titled researchlight.
Also, as a new experimental feature this time, the festival holds The Children’s Choice Awards, a participatory project planned and directed by the Canadian company Mammalian Diving Reflex, in which children will give original award to participating artists. And there will be a fringe program run simultaneously with some 31 works programed.
Presenter Topics
New York’s international theater festival Under the Radar (Jan. 4 – 15, 2018)
Known for its annual programs of the most cutting-edge performing arts in the U.S., the Under the Radar international theater festival was held again this year with New York’s The Public Theater as its main venue. Currently, the festival’s co-directors are the festival’s founder Mark Russell and the director and playwright Meiyin Wang.
Over the past 14 years, some 229 groups from 42 countries have been invited to this festival held at The Public Theater. While of course included in these are contemporary theater-makers from around the U.S., a big role of this festival has been to give the American contemporary theater scene that otherwise tends to be isolated an opportunity to encounter the latest work from the countries of Europe. Among the artists and groups from America that have won opportunities to perform internationally thanks to this festival as Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Young Jean Lee and others.
The festival consists of the Main Program presenting works of cutting-edge performing arts by contemporary artist and groups from the U.S. and abroad, the “In Concert” program the “re-engineers the intersection of music and theater,” the “Incoming” program introducing the work of new-generation directors and choreographers, and other events such as panel discussions and the like.
Among the works in this year’s Main Program are Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Pursuit of Happiness, a criticism of the post 9/11 world in a comical theater approach; the Chinese director Wang Chong and his company Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental present Thunderstorm 2.0, a re-interpretation of early 20th century playwright Cao Yu’s 1951 drama Thunderstorm; and Margarete by the documentary theater artist Janek Turkowski active in Szczecin, Poland. From Japan, Satoshi Miyagi presents Mugen Noh Othello at the Japan Center. This is a re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s famous play form the perspective of mugen (ghostly spirit) Noh. In it, Othello’s murdered wife Desdemona returns live out her memories of her life with Othello to eternity as a ghost in a world of this ultimate form of Noh.

Festival Outline
This festival is held in New York at the same time as the APAP arts market and takes The Public Theater in New York as its main venue. The festival premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn in 2005 and moved its main venue to The Public Theater the following year and began inviting works from abroad. By 2009, some 52 works from 14 countries were presented. Also on its programs are works produced jointly with such leading internationally acclaimed American artists and companies as SITI Company, Elevator Repair Service and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, among others. The founder of Under the Radar is Mark Russell long-time director of New York’s PS122 and leader in the New York arts scene who afterward served as artistic director of Time-Based Arts Festival (2006-08) at Portland’s PICA and remains one of North America’s important presenters of contemporary performing arts.
+Under The Radar

South India’s 10th International Theatre Festival of Kerala held (Jan. 20 – 28, 2018)
This performing arts festival that began in the state of Kerala in southern India in December of 2008 celebrates its 10th holding this year. The inaugural holding of the festival only introduced works of traditional and contemporary theater from the neighboring member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Bangladesh, China, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but in the years since, the festival has gradually grown in scope to become a grand-scale festival now inviting about 30 works each year, not only from South Asia but other parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas, from Colombia to Poland, Lithuania to Bolivia and Japan and the UK. The artistic director since 2015, Sankar Venkateswaran (born 1979), is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Indian theater directors, whose works are performed worldwide. Invited to the 2016 KYOTO EXPERIMENT festival, he directed a very well-received production of Shogo Ota’s Mizu no Eki (The Water Station).
Each year, a theme is adopted for the festival, around which the invited works, workshops and symposiums are planned. This year’s theme is “Reclaiming the Margins.” The ‘marginalized’ are generally described negatively as those who have been isolated, excluded, or pushed to the edges (margins) of society as outsiders. But this festival takes a positive view margins, believing they can also be ‘spaces for collective reflection, engagement and action … it can be the margins that will help us recover silenced stories.’ They can be ‘creative spaces, where new art, ideas, performances, languages and landscapes come to life.’
In addition to local works from around India, the festival’s program also includes a select group of avant-garde theater works including, from Iran a production by director Azadeh Shahmiri titled Voicelessness, which depicts the women of Iran’s loss of political and social voice; a documentary theatre work titled Zig Zig by Leila De Lima telling the story of 12 Egyptian women raped by British soldiers early in the 20th century; a puppet theatre work for adults by the Giorgi Miqeladze Tbilisi Professional State Puppet Theatre of Georgia titled The Power of Lullaby; a physical theatre work by the contemporary theater company Ponggurl from Singapore titled The Malay Man and His Chinese Father, among others.

Festival Outline
Launched in 2008 by one of India’s leading dance and theatre research institutes, the Kerala Sangeetha Nakata Akademi, this is one of the most important comprehensive international theatre festivals in India. With a main focus on providing the opportunity for nurture, exposure and development of local contemporary performing arts, the festival also focuses on providing a platform for other folk and traditional theatre forms from Kerala and other parts of the country and the region. Furthermore, an ambitions program of seminars and workshops, exhibitions and film screenings are also planned to help visiting artists and academicians from abroad deepen their understanding of Indian culture.
+International Theatre Festival of Kerala