Mar 25, 2011

The funny side of hiding in the attic

In 2003, the Tokyo-based theater company Rinkogun received a number of awards for its play “Ura-Yaneura” (“Attic”). Now the play is back in a compelling new form — staged in a mish-mash of languages using the company’s actors and others from Indonesia and South ...

Kitamura shows Japanese women how to be 'Top Girls'

Mar 24, 2011

Kitamura shows Japanese women how to be 'Top Girls'

“The play was written nearly 30 years ago, but I feel the situation for women has hardly changed at all. In fact, it hasn’t fundamentally changed for 100 years, even though Japanese women got the vote around 65 years ago,” said theater producer Akiko ...

Playwright Noda asks, 'What is a Japanese?'

Feb 11, 2011

Playwright Noda asks, 'What is a Japanese?'

In the early 1980s, when he was a student at the University of Tokyo, Hideki Noda began to emerge as a standard bearer of something new in Japan: Contemporary theater by — and for — young people seeking to change their country. To drop ...

Universal meanings of a poet's personal grief

Jan 21, 2011

Universal meanings of a poet's personal grief

Apart from glitzy musicals and kabuki, most theatrical stagings in Japan finish their run after a couple of weeks or even a few days. With no long-run system as the norm, unlike Broadway or the West End, by the time a buzz has got ...

Dec 31, 2010

A great year for theater innovation

Japan’s drama scene has seen some change in 2010. It was as if the theater crowd grew tired of waiting for the country’s ailing economy and faltering politics to offer them anything new to work with and decided to go and find their own ...

Dec 17, 2010

Can you tell me how to get to 'Avenue Q'?

In March 2003, “Avenue Q” opened at the Vineyard Theatre in New York as one of dozens of off-Broadway productions. Audiences described the show as quirky, cute and unique, and within five months it moved to Broadway and won three Tony Awards — including ...

| Dec 10, 2010

Class of 2010: Japan's playwrights head west

Japan’s young dramatists are increasingly shrugging off their medium’s long-standing, self-imposed national isolation and are setting sail in search of new audiences, and critical praise, overseas. This year was especially successful for a handful of freshmen as theater lovers from the West picked up ...

| Nov 21, 2010

'Evacuate' to whole new worlds

In the foyers of theaters in Tokyo’s new “happening” hub of Ikebukuro — where the provocative Festival/Tokyo (F/T) drama event is running through November — odd exchanges can often be overheard. “Have you ever been to Shinagawa?” seemed a strange question, for instance, as ...

Nov 12, 2010

Theater with a hint of human truth

Yumi Suzuki co-founded the Jitensha Kinqureat theater company with friends at Nihon Joshi Daigaku (Japan Women’s University) in 1982, and it was not long before the Tokyo troupe gained a prominent reputation and a keen following for its true-to-life plays in colloquial language about ...