'Babel' dance speaks volumes

by Nobuko Tanaka

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet have lots in common. Both are 38 and grew up in Belgium with a foreign parent — one from Morocco in Cherkaoui’s case and one from France in Jalet’s. Both are also globetrotting choreographers and dancers who share a liking for Japan — with ...

Clowning gets serious in Slava's show

Aug 13, 2014

Clowning gets serious in Slava's show

by Lindsay Nelson

“Slava’s Snowshow” feels like a dream — and occasionally a nightmare. Its surreal scenarios play out one after another on a stage set with seemingly oversized, fluffy blankets that give the audience a sense of being tucked inside a child’s bed. There’s no real ...

SPAC's teen 'Dream' comes true

Aug 13, 2014

SPAC's teen 'Dream' comes true

by Natsume Date

Mount Fuji towers nearby, and the hills around are covered with beautiful tea fields, while occupying a huge, 21-hectare plot of greenery dotted with theaters and rehearsal spaces is the home base of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center. In the words of the French-based, Cameroon-born ...

Hyper Japan hails digital-age 'Genji' opera

Aug 6, 2014

Hyper Japan hails digital-age 'Genji' opera

by Tom Smith

Modern technology and age-old tradition combined last week for the premiere run of an ambitious Japanese opera with a difference — one with no live singers, musicians or actors. That’s because the stars of “Vocaloid Opera Aoi with Bunraku Puppets” at Hyper Japan in ...

Emoto brothers' 'Godot' looks set to startle

Jul 30, 2014

Emoto brothers' 'Godot' looks set to startle

by Nobuko Tanaka

“First off, we probably used to think we were too young to do ‘Waiting for Godot,’ because it’s sometimes uncomfortable talking like gnarled old men,” 27-year-old Tasuku Emoto said during a recent Japan Times interview with him and his younger brother Tokio, 24, who ...

Paris-based Oida still lives out his dreams

Jul 30, 2014

Paris-based Oida still lives out his dreams

by Ayako Takahashi

Yoshi Oida has appeared in many works by the famed Paris-based English director Peter Brook, and in 2013 the Japanese actor who has, like him, also lived in the City of Light for more than four decades, was made a Commander of the Order ...

Mitani brings new life to a  love-suicide

Jul 30, 2014

Mitani brings new life to a love-suicide

by Lindsay Nelson

If there’s one thing I never expected to see in a bunraku play, it was a disco ball. Similarly, a scene in which the leading lady has her nails done by a bevy of kimono-clad attendants. But if you’re the celebrated writer-actor-director Koki Mitani, ...

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

Jul 23, 2014

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

by Nobuko Tanaka

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, ...

Diverse joys unite distant theater fests

Jul 23, 2014

Diverse joys unite distant theater fests

by Mana Katsura

In early summer this year, I went to the famous theater festivals in two European cities — first the Theater der Welt 2014, which ran May 23-June 8 in the war-blitzed and rebuilt southwest German city of Mannheim, then to the Sibiu International Theatre ...

Kunio plays 'Hamlet' fast and loose

Jul 23, 2014

Kunio plays 'Hamlet' fast and loose

by Mika Eglinton

How do you imagine the Prince of Denmark? Perhaps as one of the famed portrayals by Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson or Ethan Hawke — or simply as a weak-willed bore forever agonizing over “To be or not to be” and all that. ...

Europe rewards edgy dramatists

Jul 16, 2014

Europe rewards edgy dramatists

by Nobuko Tanaka

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 ...