Fresh from a U.S. tour, “Zero Cost House,” the first international collaboration work between Yokohama’s Chelfitsch company and Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company (PITC), opens at Kanagawa Arts Theatre next week with its original U.S. cast.
One of the few high-profile Japanese dramatists on the international scene, Chelfitsch founder Toshiki Okada tries to give audiences worldwide a sense of what young Japanese are thinking when it comes to their uncertain futures here. It is through such global forays — which will soon include Chelfitsch opening “Jimen to Yuka (A Ground and a Floor)” in Belgium in May, and a visit to Austria before coming to Japan in September — that PITC founder Dan Rothenberg came to direct Okada’s “Enjoy” in 2010 with an American cast.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, Okada moved himself and Chelfitsch from the Tokyo region to Kumamoto on the southwest island of Kyushu. It was there that they spent two months creating “Zero Cost House,” a bitingly witty and philosophical play about a new direction for humanity’s way of life. Part autobiographical, the work draws on both Henry David Thoreau’s naturalistic idealism of “Walden” and also Kyohei Sakaguchi’s 2012 nonfiction essay “Zero kara Hajimeru Toshigata Shuryo Saishuu Seikatsu (To Start an Urban Hunter-Gatherer Life from Zero).” It confronts the new, dystopian horizons that opened up in the mind of Okada — and many others — following the quake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.
“Zero Cost House”‘ runs Feb. 11-13 at Kanagawa Arts Theatre, (English with Japanese subtitles). For details, call (03) 3423-8669 or visit www.precog-jp.net.