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TOKYO, NAGOYA

Choreographer takes a Shakespeare piece and positively reworks it

by Nobuko Tanaka

Special To The Japan Times

Take one contemporary-dance choreographer (Mikuni Yanaihara) and apply her cutting-edge work and rapid-fire script to William Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens” — what do you get? Well, what you get is an award.

Yanaihara took last year’s prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award for her work, “Hey Timon, Let’s Think Positive!” Now audiences in Japan will get the chance to see it when it stops in Tokyo from Aug. 22 to Sept. 2, and Nagoya on Sept. 7 and 8.

Though the play’s setting has been changed from Athens to modern Japan, the production’s central character mostly stays true to the original. The rich and ill-fated Timon, played by actor Shoichiro Suzuki, still spends his life beset with ennui due to his own indecision and feeble attempts to engage with the wider world.

Yanaihara conveys a positivity when speaking about her work, one that likely led her to change the original ending of the piece from that of abject misery to something that looks forward with gumption.

“It’s not easy to be positive all the time,” Yanaihara says. “Often people finish their lives without any reward at all, as Timon does in Shakespeare’s play, but even so we shouldn’t give up believing there’s a miraculous energy there waiting for us to tap into.”

“Maemuki Timon (Hey Timon, Let’s Think Positive!)” runs till Sept. 2 at the Komaba Agora Theater, which is accessible from Todaimae Station on the Inokashira Line. The production then runs at Nanatsudera Kyodo Studio in Nagoya on Sept. 7 and 8. Start times vary on the day but are either at 3 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost ¥2,800 in advance (¥2,500 for students). For more information, call Precog at 03-3423-8669 or visit precog-jp.net.