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May. 8, 2017
Japan Topics
World Theatre Festival Shizuoka under Mt. Fuji 2017 (Apr. 28 – May 7, 2017)
 
The World Theatre Festival Shizuoka under Mt. Fuji organized by the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is being held for the 7th time in 2017 with a lineup of new works by directors from Japan and abroad that includes seven Japan premieres.
For the festival opening German director Nicolas Stemann returns to SPAC for the second time, bringing with him this time the Japan premiere of Werther! Based on the novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, adds media of music and video and with the popular Austrian actor Philipp Hochmair in the one-man play’s only role.
Also on the program are three other productions from abroad in their Japan premieres. The Syrian director Omar Abusaada presents the much talked about Damascus While I Was Waiting, a play that reflects the difficult political situation in Syria today. “The Ventriloquists Convention” is directed by French artist and choreographer Gisèle Vienne and performed by the German puppet-theatre company Puppentheater Halle; and Italian director Pippo Delbono presents “Tales of June,” which he has written and directs himself.
The work presented this time by SPAC’s artistic director Satoshi Miyagi is an open-air production in Sumpujo Park of the Greek tragedy Antigone with an added subtitle of A Ceremonial Bonfire Sent Over the Ages. Also, appearing in this festival for the first time is Tanino Kuro with the new work MOON that he created in residence at Performing Arts Park and performs in the Open Air Theatre “UDO.” The production design for the audience-participation type work is by Germany’s Caspar Picbner.
As a related program prepared in collaboration with the Concert Hall Shizuoka, the music theater work 1940 -Richard Strauss Villa- will be performed based on historical events.
Also, as part of the City of Shizuoka’s “The Town is a Theater” project, the Shizuoka city center will be the site of a Shizuoka Street Theatre Festival “Strange Seed” (free of charge) will be held. Sixteen groups will perform, including Kaiji Moriyama + Kozue Hibino + Kohske Kawase, KAKI KUU KYAKU, Syounen Oujakan and others. There will also be symposiums and a bar where visitors can meet the actors and staff and a tea picking event.

Festival Outline
This is an international theater festival organized by the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), which was founded in 1997 by Shizuoka local government as Japan’s first publicly-funded performing arts organization with its own resident actors, technical and production staff, based at its own facilities, including a theater and rehearsal studios. In 2011, its name was changed from the Spring Arts Festival Shizuoka to the Fuji no Kuni – World Theater Festival (English name: World Theater Festival Shizuoka under Mt. Fuji) and is now held each June at four venues in Shizuoka city including the Shizuoka Performing Arts Theater and the Shizuoka Performing Arts Park. Based on the concept that Fuji no Kuni (the land of Mt. Fuji = Shizuoka) can be connected to the world through theater, the festival presents performing arts productions by Japanese and foreign directors. The festival’s director is the SPAC artistic director, Satoshi Miyagi.
+World Theatre Festival Shizuoka
http://festival-shizuoka.jp/en/

The New National Theatre, Tokyo Announces 2017/2018 Season Schedule
 
In 2018, the New National Theatre, Tokyo celebrates the 20th anniversary of its opening and it will mark the last season for artistic directors Tajiro Iimori of the opera department and Keiko Miyata of the drama department and it is the third year for Noriko Ohara of the ballet department.
Announced for the drama program were eight works assembled under the theme of “Depictions of the World.” The opening work of the 2017-2018 season with be Jean Giraudoux’s The Trojan War Will Not Take Place based in a new translation by Shoichiro Iwakiri and directed by Tamiya Kuriyama. Appearing on the schedule as Japan premieres will be Marjorie Prime by American writer Jordan Harrison depicting America around the year 2060 (directed by Keiko Miyata); a adaptation for the stage of George Orwell’s science fiction novel 1984 written by British playwrights Robert Ike and Duncan MacMillan (directed by Eriko Ogawa); and Macbeth on the Equator directed by Chong Wishing. Also on the schedule are a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V (directed by Hitoshi Uyama) and a restaging of Keishi Nagatsuka’s Kagami no Kanata wa Tanaka no Nakani, and Keiko Miyata will also direct a new work by Ryuta Horai.
On the dance program will be six ballets and four dance works. The season opener will be new production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with Wayne Eagling as choreographer. December will bring a production of Cinderella, and in January, celebrating the Theatre’s 20th anniversary will be a production of New Year Ballet, to be followed by Tales of Hoffmann. Dance works will include a “Butoh Today” program featuring works by Sankai Juku and Dairakudakan, and other dance works will be Shiro Takatani’s newest work ST/ll and a restaging of Kaiji Moriyama’s Circus.
As for the opera program, ten works will be presented in the 2017/2018 season. It opens with Götterdämmerung, which concludes Richard Wagner's opera tetralogy, “Der Ring des Nibelungen” that the New National Theatre has performed the first three of over the past three seasons. This is followed by Japan premiere performances of Matsukaze with music by Toshio Hosokawa and directed by choreographer Sasha Waltz; new production of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio. For this 20th anniversary performance of Fidelio, the orchestra will be conducted by Tajiro Iimori and directed by Katarina WAGNER, great-granddaughter of Richard WAGNER, who has attracted much attention as current Director of the Bayreuth Festival.
+New National Theatre, Tokyo
http://www.nntt.jac.go.jp/english/

The 61st (2017) Kishida Drama Award winner is Makoto Ueda’s Kiteketsukarubeki Shin Sekai
 
The final judging of the 61st Kishida Drama Awards organized by Hakusuisha Publishing Co. took place on February 27th and the winning drama chosen was Ueda’s Kiteketsukarubeki Shin-Sekai. This play is a science fiction comedy set in Osaka’s Shinsekai district that toured ten cities around Japan in a production by Ueda’s popular Kyoto-based theater company Europe-Kikaku. In the juror comment about the play, Akio Miyazawa said: “In addition to being perplexed by the magnificence of its literary style, I have to admit that it also made me laugh out loud several times. I was greatly impressed by the highly skilled writing and the sharpness of the sensitivity it reveals.”
Makoto Ueda was born in 1979 and is a native of Kyoto. While still a student at Doshisha University, he started the theater unit Europe-Kikaku in 1998 and has since served as its playwright and director. As a playwright, Ueda has remained dedicated to the pursuit of comedy, and among his representative works are Summertime Machine Blues, which was also made into a movie, and Magare! Spoon (Bend, Spoon!; based on Ueda’s original Fuyu no Yurigera). This was the first time a work by Ueda was nominated for the Kishida Drama Award and his first win.
+Winner Profile
Makoto Ueda
Born in Kyoto in 1979. Ueda is the representative of the theater company Europe-Kikaku and the playwright and director for all of its regular productions. He is also active as a writer for plays outside his own company, as well as for movies and dramas. He also plans and creates programs for television and radio. Since 2003, Ueda has had his plays Fuyu no Yurigera, Kakomu Formation, Heibon na Way and Windows 5000 selected as a finalists for the OMS Drama Award. In 2010, the television anime Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy) that he contributed composition and script for won the Grand Prize in the anime category of the Agency for Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival. Ueda was also the winner of the Ohkiri (comical show) event “Dynamite Kansai 2010 3rd”. He also appears in numerous events like Kikaku Night. In 2012, Ueda contributed the script and some of the directing for the drama Dragon Seinen-dan. (From the Europe-Kikaku website) http://www.europe-kikaku.com/
+Finalists (In Japanese alphabetical order)
Satoko Ichihara’s Keimiko Fumowa (stage script)
Makoto Ueda’s Kiteketsukarubeki Shin-Sekai (stage script)
Ikue Nagata’s SOETSU Kan-kuni no Shiroi Taiyo (stage script)
Mariko Ono’s THE GAME OF POLYAMORY LIFE (stage script)
Misaki Setoyama’s Rachi mo Naku, Yogore Naku (stage script)
Shinichiro Hayashi’s PORTAL (stage script)
Naotaka Hiratsuka’s Koko wa Canada ja nai (stage script)
Taichi Yamagata’s Dog-man No Life (stage script)
+Jury
Oriza Hirata, Ryo Iwamatsu, Akio Miyazawa, Hideki Noda, Toshiki Okada, and Keralino Sandorovich
+Kishida Kunio Drama Award (Website in Japanese)
http://www.hakusuisha.co.jp/kishida/
Presenter Topics
The 22nd Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels (May 5 – 27, 2017)
 
The Kunsten Festival des Arts is a performing arts festival known for its foremost program of experimental works in Europe. Artistic director Christophe Slagmuylder stands fast against the seemingly global trend toward “divisiveness, discrimination, protectionist foreign policy.” Fighting such backward trends and promising a truly cosmopolitan festival, the event will feature 39 works (25 of which are world-premiers).
The program features numerous works that focus on pressing issues seen in Europe, such as the influx of refugees. One example is from the International Institute of Political Murder led by director Milo Rau, who chose to focus on the Aegean Sea, where many attempted crossings are currently being made, for the final piece in the company’s European trilogy started in 2014. The new work, entitled Empire, brings together the desperate conditions of todays refugees with Greek tragedy. Also on the program is a dance piece entitled Displacement, in which Syrian choreographer Mithkal Alzghair will be telling his story of losing his home.
A further defining feature of this year’s festival is its large number of dance pieces. Eszter Salamon has created a festive ceremonial dance for the opening program that combines contemporary dance and dance and song from the Mapuche people of South America. Marcelo Evelyn, with a 30-plus year career as a choreographer, has created Dança Doente (Sick Dance), a piece confronting his own mortality inspired by the Butoh dance of Tatsumi Hijikata. Swedish choreographer Marten Spangberg, who presented an acclaimed 7-hour endurance dance piece at last year’s festival, will present a renewed version of the dance, titled Natten, The Series (Overnight, The Series).
This year’s festival will also feature a collaboration with the WIELS Contemporary Art Center: an exhibition between April 20 and August 13 entitled “The Absent Museum.” The exhibition will trace the course of the Belgian art scene, beginning with the Symbolist movement and leading up to the present day. Also at WIELS, performances will be given by Nàstio Mosquito (Belgium), Lili Reynaud Dewar (France), Otobong Nkanga (France/Belgium) and Carsten Höller.
Attending from Japan will be contemporary artist Tetsuya Umeda. His work Composite will involve citizens of Brussels of various ages repeating a nursery rhyme in a combined experience of physicality, song and movement.

Festival Outline
The Kunsten Festival des Arts is a contemporary arts festival held every May in Brussels, Belgium, with a primary focus on the performing arts. Known for its avant-garde program, it is recognized as one of the “antenna” festivals of the international contemporary arts scene. With its own initiatives, the festival seeks to discover and support the production of works by young artists not only from Belgium but throughout Europe and also artists from developing countries that lack arts support systems. In addition to these many productions of young artists’ works, KFDA works to encourage the careers of these artists from a long-term standpoint by involving them in multi-year collaborative production efforts. At the same time, the festival produces new works with established artist from Belgium and the rest of Europe and provides the venues for their world premieres. As one of the epicenters creating new trends in the world’s performing arts, KFDA enjoys a strong brand equity. More than 50% of the KFDA program consists of works produced by KFDA or created through KFDA-led collaborative efforts, and half of these will be world premieres in any given year. The founder of KFDA, Frie Leysen, retired as artistic director after the 2006 festival, after which the post was taken over by her assistant artistic director, Christophe Slagmuylder. Collaborating with the Japan Foundation's PAJ grant program, the Saison Foundation and others, in recent years artists Toshiki Okada (chelfitsch), Zan Yamashita, Hiroaki Umeda, Shiro Maeda (Gotandadan) and Yudai Kamisato have attended from Japan. Find our interview with Christophe Slagmuylder here.
+Kunsten Festival des Arts
http://www.kfda.be/

Opening of the “Wiener Festwochen” one of Austria’s leading comprehensive arts festivals (May 12 – June 18, 2017)
 
The Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks) is held annually in May and June over the course of five weeks in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Each year approximately 40 works are presented, from genres that include music, visual art and theater, and draws overall attendance exceeding 180,000. Having high aesthetic standards, the festival’s program is focused on art works that have strong relevance in contemporary society. Tomas Zierhofer-Kin, who has taken over the directorship of the festival beginning this year, explains, “My goal is to present not just art that attacks the local bourgeois, but art such that extends a helping hand to many.”
The opening work on the program this year will be the winner of Eurovision 2014, singer-drag queen Conchita Wurst: a large scale concert will be given in conjunction with the Vienna Symphony. This year will also feature a new series of events titled “Academy of Unlearning,” which will consider the post-colonial era from an academic perspective. Directing the program will be Gayatri Spivak, a professor at Columbia University.
Major theatrical works on the program will include Peter Brook’s Battlefield, Romeo Castellucci directing Democracy in America and Ivo van Hove directing Obsession, in a production featuring Jude Law in the lead role. Works of socially marginalized artists—for reasons of nationality, race or religion—have also been featured prominently in the program. Works include Ishvara by Tianzhuo Chen, a native of Beijing, currently based in London, in whom the influence of Shuji Terayama is strong; Distropic by Brooklyn-resident African American choreographer and also human rights activist Niv Acosta and The Self-made Aristocracy by the choreographer group La Fleur from the Ivory Coast and currently based in Paris.

Festival Outline
This is an international festival held since 1951 each May and June in Vienna on the largest scale of any Austrian festival. The venues include the Museums Quartier, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Schauspielhaus, as well as locations like markets and squares around the city, making virtually the entire city the festival’s stage. The programs feature operas and performing arts from around the world with leading directors, conductors and orchestras providing the latest in performing arts, with works presented in both classical styles and the newest productions, along with contemporary works in new staging. Luc Bondy became the festival’s overall director in 2011, with Stefanie Carp as director of the drama department and Stephanie Listner as director of the music department, presenting 45 works from 23 countries that drew a total audience of 180,000. From Japan, artists including potudo-ru and Akira Takayama have participated.
+Wiener Festwochen
http://www.festwochen.at/

“Theatertreffen” to open in Berlin (May 6 – 21, 2017)
 
Held each year in May, this festival focuses on the German-speaking world. A panel of approximately seven theater critics within the German-speaking world set out to choose “the ten best productions of the year” each year: selections are made from among works presented in the German-speaking countries of Austria, Switzerland and Germany between 66 and 14 weeks prior to the commencement of the festival. The criteria for selection are published later in the Theatertreffen festival magazine. This year, from among the 377 works presented in 63 cities within the German-speaking world, 38 pieces were nominated, and after careful consideration 10 final selections were made.
Final selections of the Theatertreffen included large productions such as Pfusch (premiered at the Volksbuhne Berlin) by regular selectee Herbert Fritsch and The Rider on the White Horse (premiered at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg) by Johan Simon; as well as Five Easy Pieces (premiered at the Kunsten Festival des Arts in Belgium, Sophiensaele in Berlin) by director Milo Rau and Real Magic (premiered at PACT Zollverein in Essen) by Forced Entertainment, based in Sheffield, UK, both more strongly associated with the independent theatrical scene. The inclusion of works by young directors, such as Sad Musician by the Swiss director born in 1982, Thom Luz (premiered at the Staatstheater Mainz) and Three Sisters directed by 1984-born Simon Stone, also from Switzerland, has also been noted.

Festival Outline
This theater meeting is held every year in Berlin in May since 1963. From among the roughly 2,000 theater productions performed each year in the German-speaking countries of Austria, Switzerland and Germany, a jury of freelance theater critics select ten outstanding works to be invited to this festival, which has gained a reputation as a proving ground for young theater makers. During the festival period, the organizers of the Theatertreffen, the Berliner Festspiele, cooperates with the Head Office of the Munich Goethe Institute and Switzerland’s Arts Council Pro Helvetia to organize two weeks of workshops known as the International Forum. This forum is attended by theater-makers under the age of 35, not only from the German-speaking countries but also from other countries around the world. With introductions of scripts and discussions, the forum serves as a platform for young theater people. In addition to the introduction of scripts, it also functions to present two weeks of workshops.
+Theatertreffen
http://www.berlinerfestspiele.de/de/aktuell/festivals/theatertreffen/ueber_festival_tt/aktuell_tt/start.php
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