'Cuckoo's Nest' still flies in the face of oppression

Jul 23, 2014

'Cuckoo's Nest' still flies in the face of oppression

Among the astonishing outburst of new American cinema in the 1970s, Milos Forman’s multi-Oscar-winning “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” offered most Japanese moviegoers their first encounter with the peculiarly piercing eyes of Jack Nicholson, who played its central character, Randle P. McMurphy. Now, ...

Europe rewards edgy dramatists

Jul 16, 2014

Europe rewards edgy dramatists

Tim Etchells, artistic director of Forced Entertainment, the English company whose “The Coming Storm” was a highlight of last year’s Festival/Tokyo, told me then that they now play abroad more than at home — mainly because festival organizers pay their costs. In contrast, producers ...

Lessons of suicidal Cowra breakout remain unlearned

Jul 9, 2014

Lessons of suicidal Cowra breakout remain unlearned

At around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, 1944, 1,104 Japanese soldiers and sailors armed only with knives, forks and a few baseball bats poured out of their huts at the Cowra prisoner-of-war camp 300 km west of Sydney in the Australian state of ...

'Blast!' comes marching back with a '' from its Tokyo drummer

Jul 9, 2014

'Blast!' comes marching back with a '' from its Tokyo drummer

“It was my hugely fortunate destiny to come across ‘Blast!’ and, as I am 39 this year, I would like to perform it with a heartfelt ’39’ message [because, in Japanese, three is san and nine is kyu, which is phonetically ‘thank you’],” Tokyo-born ...

Female dramatists dispel gender concern

Jun 18, 2014

Female dramatists dispel gender concern

Last month in Berlin, in a conversation with Annemie Vanackere, artistic director at the city’s cutting-edge Hebbel am Ufer company, she was saying how she loved contemporary Japanese theater, and how HAU had worked with several Japanese dramatists. Then she suddenly asked me: “Why ...

Chocolatecake are no sweeties

Jun 4, 2014

Chocolatecake are no sweeties

Its name translates as Chocolatecake Theatre Company, but there’s nothing self-indulgent about topics Gekidan Chocolatecake gets its teeth into. For the last two years, the Tokyo-based troupe has won best-play awards from the cutting-edge CoRich Performing Arts theater-portal website. In 2012, that was for ...

Talking Pinter with Leveaux; an 'authorized' interaction

May 28, 2014

Talking Pinter with Leveaux; an 'authorized' interaction

When we met last weekend, the world-renowned English theater director David Leveaux was relaxing with a cigarette “in the lovely sunshine” outside a rehearsal studio by Tokyo Bay. He was there for an intensive afternoon’s work with the three Japanese actors who form the ...

Shirai triumphs with 'The Tempest'

May 21, 2014

Shirai triumphs with 'The Tempest'

“I’d like ‘The Tempest’ I am creating to be on the smallest scale ever, but as it’s a very spacious stage at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, it won’t have the most compact set. Nonetheless, I will try to present it as stories from ...

'The Big Fellah' IRA drama entertains as it also elucidates

May 14, 2014

'The Big Fellah' IRA drama entertains as it also elucidates

Written by English playwright Richard Bean, and premiered in London in 2010, “The Big Fellah” spans 30 years in the lives of U.S. supporters of the Irish Republican Army as that movement fought to sever Northern Ireland’s ties to the United Kingdom and unify ...