'Ballyturk' delivers a surreal yet exciting challenge

Apr 11, 2018

'Ballyturk' delivers a surreal yet exciting challenge

by Nobuko Tanaka

When Akira Shirai first read the script for "Ballyturk," he quickly understood why its creator, Irish playwright Enda Walsh, said the work "should bypass the intellect and go straight into your bones." The 60-year-old artistic director at Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama was mulling over ...

Force and fragility meet and merge in 'Dunas'

Mar 20, 2018

Force and fragility meet and merge in 'Dunas'

by Nobuko Tanaka

There are mutual squeals of delight when Belgian dance artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Spanish flamenco dancer Maria Pages are reunited after "far too long" at a Tokyo rehearsal studio. Pages, 54, has flown in from Madrid to promote the pair's 2009 work "Dunas" ("Dunes"), ...

Dairakudakan's 'unearthly' butoh meets a tortured Russian tale

Mar 15, 2018

Dairakudakan's 'unearthly' butoh meets a tortured Russian tale

by Nobuko Tanaka

Following a January press conference in which the New National Theatre, Tokyo, announced that Dairakudakan, one of the world's leading butoh companies, would be staging two performances of "Tsumi to Batsu" ("Crime and Punishment") in March, troupe founder Akaji Maro delivered a triumphant statement. "Having ...

Living and breathing history, through noh

Mar 1, 2018

Living and breathing history, through noh

by Katherine Whatley

Noh performer Hisa Uzawa has spent her life devoted to an art form that — with its slow and steady movements, sparse staging and ancient chanting — may at first seem staid. In her hands, however, the 650-year-old tradition becomes relentlessly contemporary. Uzawa was born ...

Rethinking noh for the opera crowd

| Mar 1, 2018

Rethinking noh for the opera crowd

by Chiho Iuchi

Artists have long mined older works to create new forms of expression, just look at the continuing relevance of Shakespeare's stories. Among the oldest surviving performing arts of Japan, noh has been a source of inspiration for many in Japan. Combining narrative chanting, slow movements ...

Chiaki Soma puts on a not-so-common theater festival

Feb 22, 2018

Chiaki Soma puts on a not-so-common theater festival

by Nobuko Tanaka

In the world of Japanese contemporary drama, the action often takes place offstage as well as on. A case in point is what happened to Chiaki Soma, the program director at Festival/Tokyo from 2009-13, who is the main force behind the Theater Commons Tokyo festival, ...