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Drawing up a performance without talk

by Nobuko Tanaka

Special To The Japan Times

Language can sometimes be an obstacle for non-Japanese wanting to enjoy arts performances in Japan. In South Korea, however, artists are getting around this problem with theater programs that don’t use verbal elements.

One of these is the recent success, “Nanta,” which is a dynamic rhythm-based performance using kitchen knives, and another is a comical martial-arts show titled “Jump.”

Now, though, Tokyo audiences — of any nationality — can take part in the fun thanks to the current tour of Seoul’s most popular nonverbal theater act: “The Drawing Show.”

Giving new meaning to sketchy stage work, “The Drawing Show” is the latest in a line of live-drawing performances devised by art director and artist Kim Jin Kyu and first staged in 1998. Kim has said that the inspiration for such works came from his thoughts on why he only saw paintings in galleries. This led him to recall a time in his youth when he became immersed in drawing. He then decided to turn it into a performance.

On stage, four artists use a range of techniques, including carving, frottage, marbling and finger painting, to create about 10 pictures based on works by such masters as Leonardo da Vinci and Hokusai Katsushika in about 100 minutes. Each image is executed at a quick speed with seemingly magical effects by the performers, who also use dance and body expressive movements to generate an art experience that should leave the audience speechless.

“The Drawing Show” runs till Jan. 26 at the Ginza Hakuhinkan Theater, a 3-min. walk from JR Shinbashi Station or a 5-min. walk from Ginza subway station. For more information, call (03) 3402-9911 or visit www.originaldrawingshow.co.jp.