The Ventriloquists Convention

This article was originally published in the Japan Times Newspaper on April 27 2017. Franco-Austrian choreographer and director Gisele Vienne is fascinated by puppets and brings a group of nine ventriloquists and their marionettes to the stage in her latest piece, “The Ventriloquists Convention.” The play is part of the World Theatre Festival Shizuoka run…

Tokyo Theater Commons and Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting

This article was originally published in the Japan Times Newspaper on January 24, 2017. A bonanza is brewing in Tokyo and Yokohama for lovers of cross-cultural contemporary theater. That’s because, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, the capital’s Minato Ward hosts a new performance and workshop program named Theater Commons Tokyo. Meanwhile Yokohama’s Naka Ward…

Is all the World Still a Stage? Shakespeare and ESL in Higher Education in Japan

Roundtable panel discussion, part of the Japanese Society for Theatre Research Conference held at Kyoto Sangyo University, December 3-4 2016. Panel rationale             Student-led productions of Shakespeare were a common feature in post-war Japanese universities. Shakespeare was still widely seen as the centre of the western literary canon, and English literature departments took pride in…

Kyoto Experiment Autumn 2016

This article was originally published in the Japan Times Newspaper on October 25 2016. “Good fences make good neighbors” is an often-quoted line from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” about two farmers united in their effort to rebuild a wall that divides their land. Less well known is the poem’s central query: “Why do good fences make…

On Ishinha’s Final Show: “Amahara”

This article was originally published in the Japan Times Newspaper on September 27 2016. Performing on deserted beaches and in villages, temples, dockland warehouses and urban railyards, few theater companies can have traversed the range of landscapes and settings that have inspired Osaka-based Ishinha. Yet though journeys real and imagined have been key themes in…

On document becomings and the documentary theatre

Article published in Konan Women’s University Journal of Literature and Culture (52):2015 p.9-15. Bibliographic data | Article download link Abstract The technological and cultural changes to the constitution and usage of documents often preempt, outperform even, the capacity of institutions to validate and integrate new document formations within their orders of signification. In such instances, the document…

In Search of Direction: Mapping, Materiality and Theatre Ecology in Rural Japan

Paper given at the IFTR 2016 Conference at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. Abstract For the past forty-five years, Yukichi Matsumoto and the Osaka-based Ishinha theatre company have been creating site-specific performances that explore the intersection of urban and rural life in Japan. The company’s most recent work, “Twilight” (2015), was devised in Soni Village,…

Kyoto Experiment #6

This article was originally published in the Japan Times newspaper on February 23 2016. “It may be wrong to mix different wines, but old and new wisdom make an excellent mixture.” So claims The Singer in Bertolt Brecht’s 1944 play, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” If so, there are few places where tradition and the avant-garde…

Ishinha performs ‘Twilight’ in rural Soni Village, Kyoto

This article was originally published in the Japan Times newspaper on August 25 2015. Tokyo may be Japan’s performing-arts hub, but a growing number of artists are swapping the strictures of its cultural marketplace for the creative and lifestyle benefits of life outside the capital. For the Osaka-based Ishinha theater company, however, there’s nothing new…

Performances at the sixth Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale

This article was originally published in the Japan Times newspaper on July 21 2015. The sixth Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is set to start July 26 in Tokamachi City and Tsunan Town in Niigata Prefecture, north-central Honshu. Though this mountainous region is known for picturesque wintry snowscapes and lush green summer rice fields, it is beset…