While many young Japanese go to Canada to study English and some retirees enjoy holidays there, the number of Canadian theater companies staging performances in Japan are few and far between.

Quebec-based theater director, playwright and actor Robert Lepage — known for his work with the globe-trotting Cirque de Soleil — is one of the few Canadian dramatists who has bucked that trend, having been invited to Japan several times with both the circus spectacular and his own stagings.

The “Modern Canadian Drama Festival 2007,” which runs through Aug. 5 in Tokyo, has been a valuable opportunity for audiences here to get a flavor not only of Lepage’s work but of the current state of Canadian drama in general.

Testament to the festival’s influence is that many of the works staged under its umbrella have since become popular in the repertoires of some Japanese theater companies.

Now, in its third installment (it was held previously in 2001 and 2004), the theme of this year’s festival is “diaspora souls.” All the featured plays are in Japanese and are centered around heroines on journeys of self-discovery.

Kenzo Kimura, who studied drama in Canada in 2004 on a Japanese government scholarship, and is the director of the Tokyo-based Marshmallow Waves company, will present “You Are Here” by Daniel MacIvor, the winner of the 2006 Governor-General’s Literary Award in Drama, a Canadian drama prize.

Jun Kurata, leader of Tokyo’s popular all-male theater company Studio Life, stages “Orphan Muses,” by one of Canada’s favorite playwrights, Michel Marc Bouchard.

Also showing is “Le Collier d’Helene (Helen’s Necklace),” by rising playwright Carole Frechette.

“Helen’s Necklace” runs through July 15; “You Are Here” runs July 17-22; and “Orphan Muses” runs July 25-Aug. 5. All plays show at Theater X (Cai) in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward. The theater is a 3-min. walk from JR Ryogoku Station. Tickets are 3,000-5,000 yen yen.

For more details, call Theater X on (03) 5624-1181 or visit www.canadiandrama festival.com (English and Japanese).

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