The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 133 Updated Nov. 21, 2018
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
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.
Artist Interview: Tengai Amano, an artist of the fantastic Commanding a nostalgia for the universe
Tengai AmanoWith creative activities ranging from writing, directing plays and movies to collage art and illustration, Tengai Amano is an artist of fantastical ideas. As leader of the Nagoya-based theater company Shonen-oja-kan, he is known as a master of unique word-craft in his scripts and geometric dance like to movement of robotic puppets and the ability to bring together stage art, music, lighting, video and acoustics to create a somehow nostalgic “Amano world.” In this long interview we search for the roots of Amano’s “universal nostalgia.”
Presenter Interview
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; Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens Catalyst on Greece’s Contemporary Arts Scene
Katia Arfara
When the shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis passed away in 1975, the Onassis Foundation was established to honor the memory of his son Alexander who had died in an airplane crash by using money that would have been his inheritance for philanthropic purposes. It was this giant foundation that funded the construction of the Onassis Cultural Center as a comprehensive culture facility that opened in 2010. In this interview we spoke with Katia Arfara, the director of the Center’s theater and dance departments and programming director for its annual Fast Forward Festival held each May, about the Center’s programs and the festival.
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; 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.
Play of the Month; NO THEATER by Toshiki Okada
This play was created in collaboration with German actors as a repertory play for one of Germany’s leading public theaters, Munich Kammerspiele. Adopting the traditional Noh (NŌ) theater style, this is a contemporary Noh play consisting of two Noh plays with an interim Kyogen piece. It premiered in Germany in February of 2017 and was restaged in Kyoto in July of 2018. The setting is a subway train platform in Tokyo. Appearing in it are a departed spirit of the bubble [economy] and a ghost of feminism in a story that sheds light on a contemporary Japan swallowed up in the forces of capitalism.
Arts Organization of the Month
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.
Arts Organization of the Month: Taipei Artist Village/Treasure Hill Artist Village
Taipei Artist Village is a multipurpose facility opened in 2001 by the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs for an Artist-in-Residence program. As part of the city’s program to revitalize vacant spaces, 13 rooms of a building that formerly housed the Taipei City Department of Public Maintenance and Construction were renovated to serve as studios and living accommodations and a dance studio and music room, etc. In 2010, the Treasure Hill Artist Village was newly opened in existing buildings in a historical part of the city that were renovated to serve as living spaces with studio space.
Japan Topics
TPAM in Yokohama 2019 opens (Feb. 9 – 17, 2019)   New! (Feb. 6, 2019)
24th Japan Playwrights Association New Playwright Prize Goes to Sakotsu ni Tenshi ga Nemutteiru   New! (Feb. 6, 2019)
18th AAF Drama Awardfs Grand Prize winner is Kuchita habikoru   New! (Feb. 7, 2019)
Yokohama Dance Collection 2019 held (Jan. 31 – Feb. 17, 2019)   New! (Feb. 6, 2019)
Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance: Stage performance lineup announced   May. 14, 2018
Presenter Topics
One of Australia’s largest international arts festivals, the Adelaide Festival, to open (Mar. 1 – 17, 2019)   New! (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   New! (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. 066 “A passion for learning Japanese spreads worldwide”   New!