A recent New York Times article noted that while plenty of people are acquainted with Japanese literature, film, and pop culture, few know much about Japanese performing arts. Sure, traditional forms like kabuki and noh are known by name, but not many Westerners have had the opportunity to see them live, let alone have had access to modern Japanese performing arts.
This summer several high-profile Japanese stage productions played to crowded houses: Lincoln Center debuted Yukio Ninagawa’s Musashi and Saburo Teshigawara’s Miroku (which received a rave in The Times), and Toshiki Okada's Enjoy had an extended Off-Broadway run.
It's surprising Japan's performing arts aren't more popular in the U.S., given that Japan Society has presented over 600 shows since the inception the Performing Arts Program in 1953. But the recent spate of popular shows is auspicious news as we announce the latest season – an eclectic showcase of the best of Japan’s traditional and modern performing arts, with a range of music, theater and dance confirmed from September 2010 to March 2011! (View a video trailer of the season here.)
The season kicks off with the prolific and pioneering electronic recording artist Ryoji Ikeda, who performs his new high concept multimedia work datamatics [ver 2.0]. Ikeda is Paris-based, so naturally we're co-presenting with our good friends at French Institute Alliance Française, where the performances will be held coupled with a gallery installation.
In October, the great actor/director Yoshi Oida performs his venerable one-man comedy Interrogations: Words of the Zen Masters (check out The Times review from 1981, though the piece has been updated for this performance with a new live score.) The story follows a Zen master and the trials of his acolyte, and so links to our fall Gallery exhibit The Sound of One Hand, with related lectures and workshops, including one featuring the shakuhachi, a traditional bamboo flute used to practice shuzen breathing meditation.
Introducing Japan's hottest playwrights to the U.S., our Play Reading Series continues in November with Shoji Kokami's Trance. The play had its English-language debut at London’s prestigious Bush Theatre, with the Financial Times calling it "quirky and engaging."
In January, Japan Society’s 14th annual Japanese and East Asian Dance Showcase tears up the stage with the debut performances of companies from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. And in March, the season culminates with Kyoto's Kashu-Juku Noh Theater, giving New Yorkers the rare opportunity (even in Japan!) to see ancient noh and kyogen performances in a single evening.
Whatever your performance poison, get a healthy dose in the coming months at Japan Society!
Images (l-r): Kashu-Juku Noh Theater, photo courtesy of the artists; Ryohei Kondo and company, photo by Takashi Ito.