The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 148 Updated Mar. 29, 2021
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: The Music of OKI’s World   Rooted in the Tonkori and the Unique Expression it Inspires
OKIOKI is a musician active around the world, whose innovative music is based on the tonkori, a string instrument of the Karafuto Ainu people. This in-depth interview introduces the world of OKI, who is also active as a music producer and who blurs the boundaries of musical expression by interweaving music rooted around the world—including reggae, dub, R&B, jazz and world music—with Ainu traditional music.
Artist Interview: Eyes that Focus Like a Camera on its Subject   The Vision of Takuya Murakawa
Takuya MurakawaTakuya Murakawa is an emerging director and film artist working from his base in Kyoto. With a clear influence coming from the documentary films he studied while doing theater as a college student, Murakawa has developed a unique style of theater, creating works as if focusing a camera on his subject, or with a working method similar to editing film footage. Although his work is sometimes categorized within the genre of documentary theater often introduced in Japan in the 2010s, Murakawa’s interest actually lies in a different direction. In this interview, we look at his representative works and hear his thoughts about the fundamental questions he brings to his theater-making.
Artist Interview: An Interview with Kuro Tanino  Revealing a new “With Corona” Perspective
Kuro TaninoWith a parallel career as a psychiatrist, Tanino Kuro (leader of the theater company Niwa Gekidan Penino) has created a unique world of theater that presents the viewers with stage art that is detailed to the point of obstinacy. In addition to his activities in arts festivals in Japan and abroad, in recent years he has conducted programs to high acclaim at the Aubade Hall in his native Toyama City in Toyama prefecture that are deeply oriented toward the local citizenry. The new condition brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic have prompted Kuro to venture into virtual reality (VR) methods, resulting in two works presented as Dark Master VR and Egao no Toride ’20 Kikyou (literally: The Fortress of Smiles ’20 Homecoming). In this interview, we talk with Kuro about his creative work and the potential of VR in this time when the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a state of seclusion on people.
Artist Interview: Masako Yasumoto’s World of Dance   Realms that can only be reached through dance
Masako YasumotoMasako Yasumoto is a dancer whose journeys through lands from Southeast Asia to Africa have shaped her unique physicality and movement; and she is also one who feels free to venture into the world of entertainment as well. Since giving birth in 2009, she moved to Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu. After some time spent away from dance to devote herself to child rearing, she made a comeback in 2017 with a work titled ColaCola (Children + Parents based on that experience. Under the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions of 2020, she released her new work Full Automatic Worldly Desires zuizuizu, in which eight dancers perform wildly to the sounds of Gamelan music. This interview seeks to reveal Yasumoto’s realm of expression that she feels can only be reached through dance.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; The gWith Coronah Perspective   Akane Nakamura (producer) Interview
Akane NakamuraAs producer of the private sector production company precog Co., Ltd., Akane Nakamura (born, 1979) works with such artists as Toshiki Okada (chelfitsch), Yudai Kamisato, Mikuni Yanaihara (Nibroll), Teppei Kaneuji and Norimizu Ameya on productions in the fields of theater, dance, fine arts, literary arts and interdisciplinary works, while constantly seeking contemporary relevance and developing the potential of artistic expression. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the challenge for the company to seek new forms of online presentation of works and the establishment of the Theatre for All platform (Approved by Agency for Cultural Affairs) focusing on audience that preciously found theaters difficult to access. In this interview Nakamura talks about her beginnings in production and on to her latest projects for presenting the arts.
Presenter Interview; Tatsuki Hayashi (Dramaturg) Interview  The gWith Coronah Perspective
Tatsuki HayashiTatsuki Hayashi (b. 1982) has been employed by the Mousonturm (Künstlerhaus Mousonturm) theater in Frankfurt, Germany since 2019 as a project curator (dramaturg). In this interview he discusses the German performing arts scene under the COVID pandemic. Also, as a dramaturg who has worked on projects with Akira Takayama, with Takuya Murakawa in his involvement with the Rohm Theatre Kyoto project, as well as initiating an approach to Yuji Kinoshita, Hayashi gives us insights into his view of the dramaturg as “process-maker.”
Presenter Interview; Satoshi Miyagi Interview   The With Corona Perspective
Satoshi MiyagiLast year, Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) had to cancel its annual Fuji no Kuni ⇄ World Theatre Festival Shizuoka, and instead held an online event titled Kumo no Ue (literally: Above the clouds) ⇅ World Theatre Festival 2020. Since then, the Center has launched a variety of projects under the title SPAC GekiHai! (Literally: Theater delivery [to your home]). In this interview held in two sessions in June 2020 and March 2021, we speak with SPAC’s General Artistic Director, Satoshi Miyagi, about dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the latest plans for the 2021 World Theatre Festival that will feature a triple bill of three outdoor theatre productions.
Presenter Interview; Yokohama Dance Collection   Its vital role supporting Japan’s contemporary dance
Shinji OnoHeld for the 26th time this year, the Yokohama Dance Collection is one of Japan’s leading contemporary dance festivals. Programed primarily around dance competitions, this festival has until now selected some 400 finalists to perform their works, and the 110 award winners that have emerged from each year’s competitions are now active in Japan and throughout the world. The festival’s co-producer since 2016 is Shinji Ono, the director of its organizer, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1. In this full-length interview we talk with Ono about his ongoing efforts in building a network with overseas dance festivals like the HOTPOT East Asia Dance Platform and Asia Network of Dance (AND+) and other programs to promote the development of contemporary dance and build the environment and infrastructure to support the activities of dance artists.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Gaichi no San Shimai (Three Sisters from Abroad) by Sung Kiwoong
This play premiered in the opening performances in 2021 of the solo theater company Horobite founded by its leader, playwright and director, Yohei Hosokawa, who is also active as an actor. This work tells the story of man who comes into possession of a game control that is capable of controlling people as well. Using it, he begins to control people around him with fear and violence….
Play of the Month; Sin and Love by Naotoshi Oda
This play was a Finalist in the 65th Kishida Prize for Drama. Naotoshi Oda (born 1986) is known for his works that largely reference philosophical and intellectual literature, and this Finalist work takes Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as a reference point to create a personal short story-like play about men living in poverty. The protagonists are four Man who appear to represent Oda himself. Taking a core image of Man writing stage scripts, the story presents shifting fragmented images from the solitary daily lives of the four Man.
Play of the Month; Gaichi no San Shimai (Three Sisters from Abroad) by Sung Kiwoong
This is a new work by the same pair who staged an adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull set in Korea during the colonization by Japan in the 1930s, titled Karumegi (adaptation/stage play by Sung Kiwoong and direction by Junnosuke Tada). This new work is an adaptation of Chekov’s Three Sisters set again in Korea in the 1930s in the home of a deceased Japanese military officer named Fukuzawa. The setting is the Fukuzawa home, where conversation goes on in Japanese, pigeon Japanese and Korean. The family consists of the eldest daughter, Yoko (Olga), who is an elementary school teacher, the second daughter, Masako (Masha), the third daughter Naoko (Irina), and the eldest son Akira (Andrei), who has married a young Korean woman, and the play depicts the increasingly stifling state of their lives.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: La Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD)
The prolific 18th century French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais, whose oeuvre includes the dramas The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, was a central figure in the founding of SACD (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers). The membership-based organization was established with the aim of the protection of writers’ and composers’ rights and interests. Today the SACD has expanded its scope to the fields of film, dance, circuses, among others, and has an approximate membership of 56,000 (as of 2019).
Arts Organization of the Month: Japan Performing Arts Solidarity Network
Japan Performing Arts Solidarity Network was set up in May 2020 to help provide support for the performing arts industry, as it began suffering enormous losses as a result of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The network’s participating members in-clude about 200 organizations, which until now had little or no cooperative involvement with each other, such as public and private sector theaters, theater companies, production and ticket sales companies and stage art companies. Stepping forward to offer their experti-se as consultants and sponsors are some of Japan’s leading promotion companies, producers, performers and legal professionals.
Arts Organization of the Month: Arts Equator
Arts Equator is a not-for-profit organization (NPO) founded in 2016 by Jenny Daneels, the founder of the Malaysian performing arts information platform Kakiseni, and Kathy Rowland. It was established in Singapore as a platform for statements about and critiques of the arts in Southeast Asia, and it receives operating funding from the National Arts Council (NAC), Singapore.
Japan Topics
The 65th Kishida Drama Award Announces No Winner   New! (Mar. 29, 2021)
Japan Digital Theatre Archives (JTDA) and Playtext Digital Archives go online   New! (Mar. 29, 2021)
Broadcasting Platform “THEATRE for ALL” Begins Broadcasts   New! (Mar. 9, 2021)
20th AAF Drama Award Grand Prize goes to Yoshiro Yoda Hatori for Lynch (Drama)”   New! (Mar. 9, 2021)
27th OMS Drama Award Grand Prize goes to Masanori Yamamoto for Semi no Sora no Sora   New! (Mar. 9, 2021)
“Yokohama Dance Collection 2021” Competition Winners Decided   New! (Mar. 9, 2021)
Lineup announced for Kyoto Experiment international performing arts festival (Feb. 6 – Mar. 28, 2021)   Feb. 16, 2021
Presenter Topics
Gisèle Vienne and Ryuichi Sakamoto named associate artists for the 2021 Holland Festival   New! (Feb. 16, 2021)
British theatre company Forced Entertainment broadcasts “COMPLETE WORKS: TABLE TOP SHAKESPEARE: AT HOME” presenting all of Shakespeare’s plays staged for the home kitchen   New! (Feb. 16, 2021)
The Festival / Market Calendar is being updated
The Festival / Market Calendar is now being updated with information on the international festivals that were cancelled, postponed or held online due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
A celebration of cultural exchange between Japan and Southeast Asia, “Asia in Resonance 2019” (June 22 – July 15, 2019)   May. 30, 2019
Japan Foundation 2018 – 2019 (first application period) Grant Program for Dispatching Artists and Cultural Specialists grantees announced   Jun. 26, 2018
2018 – 2019 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   Jun. 26, 2018
2018 – 2019 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   Jun. 26, 2018
Wochi Kochi Magazine Vol. 73 “Crossing Borders, Engaging in Exchanges and Harnessing the Power of Creation amid COVID-19”   New!