The subject of Japan’s position in the world of Asian performing arts has been widely addressed over the past decade, and the new leadership of last year’s Festival/Tokyo — its largest annual performing-arts event — vowed to step up efforts to develop collaborations and exchanges within Asia.
However, a key contributor in this field has long been the Asian Performing Arts Festival, for which 2015 marks its 13th anniversary with founder Satoshi Miyagi, the director of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center, at the helm.
Every other year, the festival’s organizers select “seed pieces” to be developed into full-fledged works as a means of fostering intra-Asian arts creativity. One notable fruit of this scheme last year was “Seed,” a play directed by Chong Tze Chien from Singapore, with cast members from Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
Staged at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in Ikebukuro, this told the story of a woman aiming to travel some great distance with her dead husband (who may or may not sometimes speak to her) for a last dinner with family members scattered following a natural disaster.
In addition, new members of the revived Asian Women and Performing Arts Conference — founded in 1992 by the late dramatist Koharu Kisaragi — met last year for a round of lively and engrossing discussions about the role in today’s world of a group promoting female artists in Asia, and even about the terms “women” and “Asia” in its title.
Looking forward, visitors to 2015’s Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, which runs July 26-Sept. 13 in Niigata Prefecture (www.echigo-tsumari.jp), may be able to join in when the group reconvenes there at what promises to be one of the year’s arts and performing-arts highlights.