When Theatre E9 Kyoto opened its doors to the public in June 2019, the venue’s artistic director, Satoshi Ago, threw down the gauntlet with the bold claim that he would “create a theater that will last for a century.”

Between 2015 and 2017, five fringe theater venues closed in Kyoto, including Atelier Gekiken, which Ago ran from 2014 to 2017. When Gekiken first opened in 1984 under the name Artspace Mumonkan, it was part of a revival of shōgekijō (small theaters) in Japan’s former capital, but it was forced to cease operations due to a lack of funding and the venue’s sale by its elderly proprietor.

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