The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 135 Updated Apr. 11, 2019
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: The world of Rankoh Fujima Pioneer of the realm of Suodori
Rankoh FujimaIn addition to his role in promoting the succession and spread of Japanese traditional dance (Nihon Buyo), Rankoh Fujima is active as a choreographer, stage director and writer of new works based on stories old and new from all corners. He is known for his collaborations with other dance genres such as ballet and tap dance. In this interview he talks about his new work Nobunaga in which he performed with the Russian ballet dancer Farukh Ruzimatov, performances in India with his Goyokai group of five Nihon Buyo artists from different schools and other activities at home and abroad that seek new possibilities for traditional Japanese dance.
Artist Interview: Tengai Amano, an artist of the fantastic Commanding a nostalgia for the universe
Chikara FujiwaraChikara Fujiwara (b. 1977) is a critic and artist with a background in editing. In 2014 he published “ENGEKI QUEST” (Theater Quest), a “Adventure Book” (adventure game scenario) set in an actual town as a project that guides participants to encounters around the town. We spoke with Fujiwara about his new type of theatrical quest as a member of the home computer roll-playing game generation.
Artist Interview: Tengai Amano, an artist of the fantastic Commanding a nostalgia for the universe
Takuya YokoyamaPlaywright and director Takuya Yokoyama (b. 1977, leader of iaku) is known for his conversational dramas depicting the conflicts between people of differing positions and mindsets play out in logical arguments set to the tempo of the Kansai dialect and laced with humor. Ever since he first drew attention with his 2009 three-man play Edaniku (literally: Dressed Carcass) about the fights between employees of a slaughterhouse, Yokoyama has continued to write numerous plays that address the contradictions of society through conversations and quarrels where the characters blurt out the feelings and discontent they normally keep suppressed inside themselves. This interview traces the career of Yokoyama as a playwright who strives to write conversations that move people simply by reading them.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Tadashi Suzuki and Theatre Olympics Exploring the state of the world through theatre
Tadashi SuzukiIt has been some 40 years since Tadashi Suzuki and the Waseda Small Theater (currently Suzuki Company of Toga, or SCOT) moved to Toga-mura in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. Today there are four theatres, two outdoor theatres, several lodging facilities, etc., renovated to create an international base for performing arts activities. This year, the 9th Theatre Olympics will be held jointly organized in Japan and Russia with Toga-mura and the national theatre of Saint Petersburg as the main venues (Japan dates: Aug. 23 – Sept. 23, 2019). In this latest interview with Tadashi Suzuki, he talks about his thoughts about the state of people in today’s world as seen through theatre.
Presenter Interview; Alkantara Festival, and its aim to build a new type of artist community
David CabecinhaAlkantara Festival is an international contemporary performing arts festival held every other year in Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, a city that is now one of Europe’s leading tourist destinations. We spoke with the festival’s artistic co-director David Cabecinha about the festival’s history, beginning from the launch of the Portugal New Dance festival with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, to the present Alkantara Festival programs.
Presenter Interview; Connecting the World in the Canary Islands MASDANZA International Dance Festival
Natalia Medina
With its history as a stopover for ships crossing the Atlantic between Europe and the Americas, Spain’s Canary Islands today are best known as a tourist destination. Launched in 1996 as a competition for local choreographers, the MASDANZA International Contemporary Dance Festival has developed into a noted international platform for a network of the dance festivals of many countries. In this interview, we talk with the festival’s founder and artistic director, Natalia Medina.
Presenter Interview; La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club  Artistic Director Mia Yoo
Mia YooLa MaMa Experimental Theatre Club was founded in 1961 by the New York theater legend Ellen Stewart. The initial space was so small that it accommodated only around twenty-five people, but it has expanded to become an organization today with four buildings in the East Village. After Ellen passed away in 2011, Mia Yoo became her successor as artistic director; and in this interview with Yoo we learn about the La MaMa spirit and the richly diverse range of programs it engages in today.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; The Sea of Fertility by Ikue Osada (Original by Yukio Mishima)
This is an adaptation for the stage of Yukio Mishima’s last full-length novel tetralogy by the same title. The novels tell the story of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth of a handsome young aristocrat named Kiyoaki Matsugae. The first novel tells the story of Kiyoaki and his lover, and of his school friend, Shigekuni Honda. The second and third novels tell of Kiyoaki’s reincarnation as a rightist youth and the meeting of Honda and foreign princess, while the fourth novel tells of the aged Honda being made a fool of by a youth he adopts. The play takes Honda as its main character while shifting back and forth intricately between the four stories.
Play of the Month; Nihon bungaku seisui shi (The Rise and Fall History of Japanese Literature) by  Oriza Hirata
This play that won the 22nd Tsuruya Nanboku Drama Award is a bold adaptation for the stage by Oriza Hirata of Genichiro Takahashi’s book by the same title exploring the works and personal lives of leading literary figures of Japan’s Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) while also interjecting contemporary events of our day. The play depicts the wakes or post-funeral banquets for four authors of the period: Toukoku Kitamura, Shiki Masaoka, Shimei Futabatei and Soseki Natsume. The discussions that take place between the deceased’s fellow authors there to grieve and the occasional intruders of our age focuses on the questions of literary expression.
Play of the Month; To Mr. Gegege by Tomohiro Maekawa
After losing his left arm in active service during World War II in the Pacific, Shigeru Mizuki (1922 – 2015) went on to become a manga artist after the War and lead his era with the manga GeGeGe no Kitaro with supernatural characters based on folk creatures known as yokai. Maekawa, a writer greatly influenced by Mizuki, wrote this play based on his short stories as homage to Mizuki and the underlying themes of war and poverty found in most of his work. It is set in a country of Japan in the near future where the birthrate has dropped drastically and the population is steadily decreasing. The story develops from the arrival of a young couple that has fled the city at the shack in a country town where the semi-yokai Nezu is living.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: Performing Arts Alliance (PAA)
Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) first came into existence as the performing arts league, a collective effort of performing art groups to demand an exemption from sales tax on tickets and to abolish script censorship. Today, it is Taiwan’s largest performing arts organization platform with programs for operating a performing arts database, cultivating arts professionals, conducting surveys and engaged in advocacy (defending rights and making policy recommendations) in the performing arts field.
Arts Organization of the Month: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Established in 1956 by the last will and testament of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955), an Armenian-born oil baron and entrepreneur of British citizenship, the Foundation is one of the leading private foundations in Portugal. Its aim is to improve the quality of life for persons throughout the fields of the arts, science, charity and education. Working from its headquarters in Lisbon (Portugal) and its delegations in Paris (France) and London (the United Kingdom), the Foundation operates programs in tie-ups with Portuguese-speaking African countries and other communities.
Arts Organization of the Month: Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art
This Centre opened in 1988 as Poland’s first large-scale contemporary art center. The Centre is housed in the reconstructed Ujazdowski Castle, a historic castle originally built in the 13th century that has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. Since 1990, the director is Wojciech Krukowski, leader of the Warsaw theater company Akademię Ruchu, who has worked to build a full-fledged program of arts activities at the Centre. In 2003, a residency program was launched that accepts about 30 artists a year.
Japan Topics
The 63rd (2018) Kishida Drama Award winner is Shuntaro Matsubara   New! (Mar. 26, 2019)
Oriza Hirata’s Nihon Bungaku Seisui-shi (The Rise and Fall of Japanese Literature) wins the 22nd Tsuruya Namboku Memorial Drama Award   New! (Mar. 26, 2019)
Yokohama Dance Collection 2019 competition choreography award winners chosen   New! (Mar. 26, 2019)
TPAM in Yokohama 2019 opens (Feb. 9 – 17, 2019)   Feb. 6, 2019
24th Japan Playwrights Association New Playwright Prize Goes to Sakotsu ni Tenshi ga Nemutteiru   Feb. 6, 2019
18th AAF Drama Award’s Grand Prize winner is Kuchita habikoru   Feb. 7, 2019
Presenter Topics
Austria’s largest arts festival Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks) opens (May 10 – June 16, 2019)   New! (Apr. 15, 2019)
One of Australia’s largest international arts festivals, the Adelaide Festival, to open (Mar. 1 – 17, 2019)   Feb. 6, 2019
PuSh Performing Arts Festival opened in Vancouver (Jan. 17 – Feb. 2, 2019)   Feb. 6, 2019
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
TPAM in Yokohama 2019: Foreign presenters for Japan Foundation Asia Center invitation decided   Jan. 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. 067 “Literature and music that resonate across borders and Japanese culture handed down from the past: The Japan Foundation Awards 2018”   New!