The Japanese Playwrights Project
Satoko Ichihara/Kristine Haruna Lee, Jun Tsutsui/Soraya Broukhim, Kuro Tanino/Mallory Catlett
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented the Japanese Playwrights Project (Day 1) livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 12 November 2018 at 11:00 a.m. PST (San Francisco) / 1:00 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2:00 p.m. EST (New York).
After the success of the first edition of the Japanese Playwrights Project (JPP) in 2007 once again the Segal Center brings some of the brightest, most innovative, and most engaging emerging playwrights from Japan to New York to develop their pieces through translation into English and public readings of the work. The Japan Playwrights Project plays an important role in introducing contemporary writing and dramaturgy from Japan to the US.
In 2018, the Japanese Playwrights Project is proud to present:
A Question of Faeries by Satoko Ichihara
Favonia’s Fruitless Fable by Satoko Ichihara
Isla, Isla, Isla! by Yudai Kamisato
Avidya – No Lights Inn by Kuro Tanino
Sokonaizu by Jun Tsutsui
The Japanese Playwrights Project 2018 was made possible by the generous support of the Japan Foundation, New York (Koji Nozaki, Sanae Tani, and Kenji Matsumoto). Additional support for English translations by the Japan Playwrights Association. The Japanese Playwrights Project 2018 was initiated and realized by Frank Hentschker and Aya Ogawa.
Board of Advisors – Japan: Peter Eckersall, Shintaro Fujii, Kako Kishimoto, Hiromi Maruoka, Aya Ogawa, Toshiki Okada, and Masahiko Yokobori.
Board of Advisors – New York: Peter Eckersall, Anne Erbe, Frank Hentschker, Andrew Kircher, Kate Loewald, Aya Ogawa, and Yoko Shioya.
Participants of the 2007 JPP included Masataka Matsuda, Akio Miyazawa, Toshiki Okada, and Mikuni Yanaihara. Josh Fox/International WOW Company; Dan Safer/Witness Relocation, Jay Scheib, and The Play Company each presented successful productions in New York theatres.
Monday 12 November
Favonia’s Fruitless Fable (毛美子不毛話)
11:00 a.m. PST (San Francisco) / 1:00 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 2:00 p.m. EST (New York)
written by Satoko Ichihara
directed by Kristine Haruna Lee
translated by Aya Ogawa
“Me” is a female office worker who, obsessed with a strange rumor, comes wandering through a back alley night after night in search of real leather pumps. In the back alley she has a series of encounters with a variety of questionable characters: a distorted version of a male office worker who is a superior at her company, another “Me,” a middle-aged man who has a huge cock growing out of the middle of his chest, and a shifty salesman. A two-person play (1M, 1F) portraying life in the chaos of contemporary society. Nominated for the 61st Kunio Kishida Prize for Drama.
2 p.m. PST (San Francisco) / 4 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 5 p.m. EST (New York)
written by Jun Tsutsui
directed by Soraya Broukhim
translated by Tomoyuki Arai
It isn’t clear whether it’s the end of the year or the beginning of the year. Two women are lying still in a room. No one knows the size of it. They are sisters. The younger speaks, but with a voice in her mind, her mouth isn’t actually voicing a sound. She may find her older sister dead, so she’s afraid to speak to her and she is also afraid of realizing that she herself can’t possibly utter a word, which would mean she is dead. An official of the city where the sisters live has noticed their accident, but he doesn’t make an effort to help. The older sister dies and speaks to say that her life was very poor because of the enormous inheritance tax caused by the land left by their parents. Their parents had passed away suddenly. The younger sister only remains, still in her room without knowing whether she has seen the old year out or not and whether she is dead or not.
Avidya – No Lights Inn (地獄谷温泉無明ノ宿)
4 p.m. PST (San Francisco) / 6 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 7 p.m. EST (New York)
written by Kuro Tanino
directed by Mallory Catlett
translated by Mari Boyd
The play is set in an old hot spring inn, located deep in the mountains of Japan. The health spa has long been cherished by the local villagers as a place to rest and cure them of their ailments. However, it is fated to be torn down to make way for a new railroad. One day in 2015, as the autumn prepares to change into winter, a rather peculiar father and son arrive from Tokyo. They are puppeteers who have come to put on a show at the request of the inn-owner. The father is a dwarf while his son is a rather eerie, expressionless figure who always seems to be wearing a mask. With their client nowhere in sight, the father and son wait in vain at the inn. As evening comes and their means of returning home is lost, they are forced to spend the night. While the villagers are puzzled by the sudden visit of this eccentric father and son, they are also intrigued. In time, the villagers find the depths of their minds shaken, exposing their inner darkness.
Tuesday 13 November
Isla, Isla, Isla! (イスラ！イスラ！イスラ！)
1 p.m. PST (San Francisco) / 3 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 4 p.m. EST (New York)
written by Yudai Kamisato
directed by Sarah Hughes, performed by Tony Torn
translated by Aya Ogawa
On a fictitious island in the south, an island dictator addresses his countless soldiers before a battle. In part he recounts the story of how he, the king of the island himself, arrived on the island and encountered the first natives there. He goes on to describe the lengthy history of how he brought “civilization” to the island, and recounts his violent encounters with his rival, a monstrous bird of the island. Soon the island is wracked by a huge earthquake, followed by the arrival of a wave of foreigners. With the new inventions brought onto the island, the island itself is transformed irrevocably. The king’s words gradually become the voice of the island itself. With references to real historical events, this play portrays an epic and mythological reflection on colonization, immigration, culture and civilization.
A Question of Faeries (妖精の問題)
4 p.m. PST (San Francisco) / 6 p.m. CST (Chicago) / 7 p.m. EST (New York)
written and directed by Satoko Ichihara
performed by Kyoko Takenaka with English subtitles by Aya Ogawa
The 2016 mass murder of disabled people that shook Japanese society to the core was the departure point for the playwright. The play turns a critical eye towards contemporary society’s value judgment on issues of ideology of eugenics, and the aging population. The play is comprised of three acts in three different styles (Act 1 as rakugo, a traditional Japanese stand-up comedy form; Act 2 as a music piece; and Act 3 a seminar) and performed primarily by a single performer. The second act requires live accompaniment by a pianist, featuring compositions by emerging composer Masashi Nukata (Tokyo Siokouji / nuthmique). The actor Kyoko Takenaka was the first Japanese actor to be accepted into Frances’ École nationale supérieure d’art dramatique de Montpellier as an actor. This performance for JPP is a simplified version of the full production and is performed by one main actor.
About the Playwrights
Satoko Ichihara is playwright, director, and novelist. Born in 1988, she studied theater at J.F. Oberlin University. Ichihara narrates the absurdity of life and the vitality of humans who shine in the rankling world from the perspective of women, delivered mainly through monologues. While setting great value on the bodies of performers, she also emphasizes the expression of texts and their rhythms. Her works are carefully built as if from an outside perspective into the behaviors of humans and animals. She aims to immerse the audience in the vibrancy and the bounding pulse of life. In 2011, Satoko received the Aichi Arts Foundation Drama Award with the play Insects. In 2013, she was selected to stage Qlobe of Life Ⅱ as part of the Festival/Tokyo. In 2016, the novel Insects was released in the literary journal Subaru. In 2017, she was a ﬁnalist for 61st Kishida Kunio Playwriting award for Favonia’s Fruitless Fable and was invited to present Favonia’s Fruitless Fable at the Seoul Marginal Theater Festival. In 2018 Satoko became a Saison Foundation Junior Fellow Artist. qqq-qqq-qqq.com
Kuro Tanino, a playwright and director, was born in 1976 in Toyama Prefecture. Kuro Tanino is the artistic director of Niwa Gekidan Penino as well as resident playwright and director. He is a Saison Foundation Senior Fellow. After launching Niwa Gekidan Penino while still a medical student in 2000, he has since written and directed all the company’s plays. He was nominated for the prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2007 and 2008, and has received invitations to festivals around the world. He premiered Käfig aus Wasser in March 2015 in Germany, while Avidya: No Lights Inn won the Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2016.
Jun Tsutsui, born in Osaka in 1971, is a director, playwright and performer who leads dracom, an Osaka-based performance group. He received his MA at Osaka University of Arts in 1997, the Kyoto Art Center Performing Arts Award for his direction of dracom’s Moreuta in 2007 and The Saison Foundation’s Senior Fellow scholarship for 2014–2016. With dracom he has participated in such events as the International Showcase of Tokyo Performing Arts Market 2008, Emerging Artists Program of Festival/Tokyo 2010, Sound Live Tokyo 2014 in collaboration with Small Wooden Shoe (Toronto) and Nippon Performance Night 2017 at FFT (Düsseldorf). He has worked with such artists/groups as Akio Suzuki, Zan Yamashita, Noriyuki Kiguchi, Masataka Matsuda, Ishinha, Toenkai and Takatsuki Senior Theatre Company formed by amateur performers all older than 50, as well as on dance projects with Kyoto University of Art & Design and Dance Box (Kobe). He has been running a small space OPA_Lab in Settsu City, Osaka, where he regularly presents experimental productions including Rough Play, where performers collectively learn a full-length classical or contemporary play in a day and perform it relying only on their uncertain and unorganized memory.
Yudai Kamisato is a director and playwright, and the head of Okazaki Art Theatre.
He was born in Peru in 1982 and in now based in Tokyo and Kawasaki. In his teens, he lived for a few years in the Republic of Paraguay and the United States of America. In 2006, he became the youngest person ever to win the first prize in the TOGA Directors Competition for his staging of Desire Caught by the Tail, a farcical play with a script by Pablo Picasso, and he won the prize for the Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2018 with The Story of Descending the Long Slopes of Valparaíso which premiered in Kyoto Experiment 2017. He made his debut as a novelist in 2013. In October 2016, he undertook one year of residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina under the Program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists offered by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. Between fiscal years 2011 and 2016, he served as a junior fellow of The Saison Foundation. More recently, he has been creating works that derive from heightened interest in his own identity and reflect deep insights into problems confronting immigrants and workers, the relationship between the individual and national identity, and communication with contemporary others.
Satoko Ichihara is a playwriter, director and novelist. Born in 1988. Studied theater at J.F. Oberlin University. Ichihara narrates the absurdity of life and the vitality of humans who shine in the rankling world from the perspective of women, delivered mainly through monologues. While setting great value on the bodies of performers, she also emphasizes the expression of texts and their rhythms. Her works are carefully built as if from an outside perspective into the behaviors of humans and animals, and aim to immerse the audience in the vibrancy and the bounding pulse of life. 2011, Receives the Aichi Arts Foundation Drama Award with the play “Insects” .2013, Serected to stage “Qlobe of Life Ⅱ” as part of the Festival/Tokyo. 2016, Released the novel “Insects” in the literary journal “Subaru”. 2017, Nominated for ﬁnalist of 61st Kishida Kunio Playwriting award for “Favonia’s Fruitless Fable”. Invited to present “Favonia’s Fruitless Fable” at the Seoul Marginal Theater Festival. 2018, Selected to The Saison Foundation Junior fellow Artist.
About the Directors
Mallory Catlett is a creator and director of performance across disciplines from opera and music theater to plays and installation art. She is the founder of Restless NYC whose Obie Award winning production, This Was The End, was recently remounted at Mabou Mines. Work outside of Restless includes: visual artist Nene Humphrey’s Transmissions (2017) at Leslie Heller Gallery and Mika Karlsson’s opera The Echo Drift (Prototype Festival 2018). She is a member of the multi-disciplinary artist led performance venue The Collapsable Hole. In NYC her work has premiered at 3LD, HERE, PS122, Abrons, Chocolate Factory; featured at COIL, Prototype and BAM’s Next Wave; and toured internationally to Canada, France, UK, Ireland & Australia. She is a Foundation of Contemporary Arts 2015 Awardee and a 2016 Creative Capital Artist. She is an Assistant Professor in Theatre Arts at Stony Brook University.
Kristine Haruna Lee is a theater maker whose work navigates non-linear playwriting, the practice and performance of auto-theory, and the construction of visually rich performance landscapes with her company harunalee, hailed by the New York Times as “So full of impulses and splendid, fractious energy”. Recent plays with harunalee include Memory Retrograde (The Public’s Under The Radar Festival), to the left of the pantry and under the sugar shack (La MaMa Club), and War Lesbian (Dixon Place TONY LGBT Critic’s Pick). Her play Suicide Forest directed by Aya Ogawa will premiere at the Bushwick Starr in February 2019. She’s a recipient of the MAP Fund Award, the Lotos Foundation Prize for Directing, New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship, and has been a member of Interstate 73, The Public’s Devised Theater Working Group, Ars Nova Maker’s Lab, and BAX AIR. She is an affiliated artist with New Georges and currently in the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. MFA Brooklyn College for Playwriting with Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney, BFA NYU Tisch Experimental Theater Wing.
Soraya Broukhim is a multidisciplinary artist, an actor, a director, a poet, a teacher & Ayurvedic healer. She has collaborated in creating new devised projects with The Living Theatre beside Judith Malina and core-members since 2010, with A Laboratory for Actor Training e.t.c. beside director Vernice Miller, Ripe Time, Williamstown Theatre Festival, O’Neill Playwright Conference, Drama League, Tofte Lake Center & National Theatre Institute. She is an Artistic Associate at the Living Theatre. And Development-Marketing Director at A.L.A.T. etc. Ms. Broukhim is also currently an adjunct professor at Fordham University Lincoln Center teaching majors Devised-Collaboration Theatre. She graduated from Fordham University at Lincoln Center, BAADA, NTI & St.Petersburg Arts Theatre Academy. Acting credits include: The Aeneid (music by Dunkan Sheik, Drama League, Workshop), Outside the World (HERE), Petrol Station (BAM/NYU), No Place to Hide (Artistic Associate/Living Theatre), and many others.
Sarah Hughes is a director and producer of theater and new media. She’s developed performances with artists such as Eliza Bent, Julia May Jonas / Nellie Tinder, MJ Kaufman, Sibyl Kempson, McFeely Sam Goodman, Chana Porter, Deepali Gupta, Cara Scarmack, Alaina Ferris, and Pablo Helguera. With Graham Sack, Geoff Sobelle & Sensorium she’s created VR & AR pieces for Tribeca Film Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, and The New York Times. She’s presented work at Abrons Arts Center, BAM Next Wave, JACK, The Bushwick Starr, Japan Society, PEN World Voices, Columbia University, and Prelude, among others. Sarah worked with Elevator Repair Service from 2007-14, assistant directing Gatz, The Select, Arguendo, Shuffle, and Fondly, Collette Richland, and she was Co-Artistic Producer of Target Margin Theater from 2015-17. www.sarahcameronhughes.com
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