The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 142 Updated May. 8, 2020
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Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: Satoko Ichihara’s Reality Judged by a Unique Physiological Sensibility
Satoko IchiharaSatoko Ichihara (born in 1988) has drawn attention as a playwright with a new perspective. Her latest work, The Bacchae – Holstein Milk Cows, tells a story of a world in which a woman who had worked as a technician in livestock artificial insemination manages to create a half-human, half-cow beast (Dionysus), which won the 64th Kishida Kunio Drama Award. In this interview, we seek to reveal the source of the physiological perceptions that Ichihara puts her faith in.
Artist Interview: Midori Kurata’s Quest into a New Realm “Who do you work with?”
Midori KurataDirector, choreographer and dancer Midori Kurata is an artist who works closely with people with complex backgrounds, such as residents of drug rehabilitation facilities or the elderly living in a community with a complex history, and from those realities she strives to create worlds based on fictional elements. She has become known for a series of unique stages that are distinctly different from those of other artists who work with others to produce works that can classify as documentary theater or citizen-participation theater. In this interview we search for the roots of her powerful humanity.
Artist Interview: Ryunosuke Kimura’s new approach Envisioning a fictional city, Shakespeare Tokyo
Ryunosuke KimuraThe young theater company Kakushinhan is gathering attention with its interpretations of Shakespeare plays performed in sequence. In 2016, they rushed into the spotlight with their presentation of Henry VI (trilogy) and Richard III as the War of Roses Quartet, with staging full of quick and dynamic acting by the young actors and directing that employed elements of pop culture and props taken from household consumer items. In this interview, the company’s leader, director Ryunosuke Kimura, talks about his new theater approach that he calls “Shakespeare Tokyo.”
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Building the Environment for Contemporary Dance with Production Connecting the Public and Private Sectors
Eri KaratsuEri Karatsu is active as Japan’s only dance-specific producer who works as a civil servant. In her post at the Aichi Arts Center and the Aichi Prefectural Art Theater, Karatsu has spent years exploring possibilities for a positive environment for contemporary dance. In 2019, she worked with the Sega Sammy Arts Foundation to establish the Dance Base Yokohama (DaBY). In this interview we talk with her about her vision for contemporary dance.
Presenter Interview; Anna Muelter’s Approach to Spreading Understanding of Dance and Theater
Anna MuelterAnna Muelter is dance curator of Berlin’s Sophiensaele (an arts space comprising a theater space and multiple rehearsal studios) and also curator of the festival Tanztage Berlin. Known for her support and nurturing of young female choreographers and artists with disabilities and making theaters barrier-free, Muelter will serve from 2021 as the new artistic director of the international performing arts festival Theaterformen. In this interview we explore her unique attitude toward today’s issues in the arts.
Presenter Interview; The Quest of Bilqis Hijjas, Promoting Contemporary Dance in Malaysia
Bilqis HijjasAs president of the membership association MyDance Alliance, Bilqis Hijjas has been a leader in promoting contemporary dance in Malaysia through programs such as the artist-in-residence program at the private-sector arts facility Rimbun Dahan, through directing the “Dancing in place” events presenting outdoor dance works, and by conducting projects like ones focusing on female choreographers. In this long interview, she talks about everything from her initial encounter with dance to today’s projects to promote dance in Malaysia.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Crying Romeo and Angry Juliet by Wishing Chong
Re-setting the story of Romeo and Juliet in the postwar confusion of Japan’s Kansai (West) region, this adaptation of the classic drama is written by performed in the Kansai dialect. In the “Verona” of this adaptation, a district dominated by small factories, two local forces battle for dominance, with the “Capulets” being a reborn Japanese yakuza gangster clan and the Montagues, a group led by Korean-Japanese bosses. The play’s good-natured young Romeo who speaks with a stammer meets Juliet, who has just moved into town from the countryside in a love story—played by an all-male cast—that draws in a good number of lost souls struggling to find a way in the new postwar world.
Play of the Month; Play II of the Fukushima Trilogy 1986: Moebius strip by Kenichi Tani
This play is the second of Tani’s Fukushima Trilogy (winner of the Kishida Drama Award), a drama based on two and a half years of investigation and interviews relating to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 2011, that weaves together the stories of three generations of a family in the affected area. The first play of the trilogy, 1961: Midnight Sunrise, deals with the hopes and fears amid the buying up of land to build the reactor, and this second play, 1986: Moebius strip is set against the 1985 mayoral election in the town of Futaba, while the third play, 2011: The Words Want to be Spoken focuses on the nuclear disaster itself. Together, the trilogy is the winner of the 23rd Tsuruya Namboku Memorial Award.
Play of the Month; The Bacchae–Holstein Milk Cows by Satoko Ichihara
Satoko Ichihara, leader of the theater unit Gekidan Q, wrote this play that takes themes from the ancient Greek tragedy Bacchae by Euripides to examine various aspects of contemporary society, from love and sex, man and woman, intermixture and inter-breeding of species, discrimination and abuse, to artificial insemination, criticism of anthropocentricism and more. It was the winner of the 64th Kishida Drama Award. It premiered at the Aichi Triennale in 2019 as a performance with an all-female cast, including the chorus.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific (WDA)
The predecessor organization was the Asia Pacific Dance Alliance founded in Hong Kong in 1988. After the establishment of the World Dance Alliance as an international organization at the Hong Kong International Dance Conference held in 1990, the name was changed to World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific in 1993. WDA is dedicated to spreading awareness and understanding of the increasingly diversifying world of dance expression and contributing to its development.
Arts Organization of the Month: Sundance Institute
Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding and nurturing artist talents in the fields of independent film, video and theater. It was founded in 1981 in Utah by actor and film director Robert Redford. The organization’s Sundance Film Festival is known internationally as one of the world’s largest indies film festivals. Sundance Institute also actively supports theater makers with educational programs.
Arts Organization of the Month: East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP)
The East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP) was established in 2011 as a part of the main project “” of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, a government agency dedicated to promoting and disseminating information about Poland’s arts and culture. EEPAP engages in educational programs and residency programs aimed at promoting the development of contemporary performing arts rooted in the contemporary societies of Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2012, EEPAP is run jointly with the city of Lublin.
Japan Topics
The 64th (2020) Kishida Drama Award goes to two finalists, Satoko Ichihara and Kenichi Tani   New! (Mar. 25, 2020)
Kenichi Tani’s 1986: Moebius strip wins the 23rd Tsuruya Namboku Memorial Drama Award   New! (Mar. 25, 2020)
The 19th (2020) AAF Drama Award winner is Kotaro Ono’s Ne-   New! (Mar. 25, 2020)
Yokohama Dance Collection 2020 competition choreography award winners chosen   Feb. 13, 2020
Presenter Topics
Austria’s largest arts festival Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks) 2020   New! (Apr. 9, 2020)
Kunsten Festival des Art (May 8 - 30, 2020) deliberates possible reduction in scale or cancellation, and the Singapore International Festival of Arts May 15 - 31, 2020 is cancelled   New! (Apr. 9, 2020)
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. 71 “The 47th Japan Foundation Awards—the Bond between Japan and the World Nurtured by Culture, Language and Knowledge”   New!