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 ...

Nov 5, 2010

Canadian director examines 'home' from an expat view

Though best known as a director of Quebec-based circus Cirque du Soleil, 52-year-old Robert Lepage is also one of Canada’s most distinguished dramatists. His latest production, “The Blue Dragon,” uses masterful lighting changes and a two-story set in a play that examines the lives, ...

Is Tokyo staging the next major theater festival?

Oct 22, 2010

Is Tokyo staging the next major theater festival?

Festival/Tokyo, which launched last year with two sets of events in spring and autumn, is in a bid to join the ranks of the world’s top-flight theater festivals — such as Edinburgh’s annual spectacular in Scotland, Avignon’s in the South of France and Adelaide’s ...

Kyoto experiments with its cultural image

Oct 22, 2010

Kyoto experiments with its cultural image

The inaugural Kyoto Experiment aims to present a taste of modernity in Japan’s old capital, rather than the traditional stuff everyone already knows. The monthlong performing arts festival features 10 main programs, including three from abroad. The overseas contingent includes “Mirai no Watashi (Me ...

Cultural gems host theater's treasures

Sep 17, 2010

Cultural gems host theater's treasures

There are currently 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan, ranging from the pristine Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido’s north to Okinawa’s Ryukyu castles. In 2006, UNESCO in Japan teamed up with the Asahi newspaper to combine the sites with the nation’s rich heritage of ...

Double dose of dancing hits Saitama

Sep 3, 2010

Double dose of dancing hits Saitama

A double bill of cutting-edge dance awaits fans at the Saitama Arts Theater this weekend. Under the title dancetoday 2010, the first part of this two-course feast of leading Japanese contemporary dance features is “Island of No Memories,” choreographed by international dance muse, Kaori ...