Tokyo’s Biggest Performing Arts Festival Comes to Town

Billed as Tokyo’s ‘leading performing arts festival’, Festival/Tokyo 2015 has the largest and most eclectic lineup to be found anywhere in the capital.

From October 31 to December 6, see timeless classics like A Midsummer Night’s Dream run alongside original works such as Zombie Opera Danse Macabre, along with all kinds of dance music and art performances. This year boasts a greater number of English language and subtitled shows than ever before, as well as French, German, Spanish, Korean and Burmese offerings.

2015 will mark the 8th anniversary for Festival/Tokyo and the theme that will run throughout the performances is “border fusion”. Each year, the festival also focuses on a different Asian country, with this year showcasing the diverse contemporary arts scene in Myanmar.

In addition to the main theatre, installation, video, music, and performance works, there is also a packed program of other related events, including screenings of the acclaimed “The Monk” (2014), alongside a talk from director The Maw Naing.

Other films originating from Myanmar will be screened including “Beauty of Tradition – Under the Sky of Yangon” which follows the stories of 3 artists from different disciplines through the common thread of exploring Myanmar’s identity, and “Nargis – When Time Stopped Breathing” – a confronting and heart-wrenching documentary telling the story of the survivors of the region’s worst natural disaster in living memory – Cyclone Nargis.

International artists participating include Spanish theater director Angélica Liddell, who will be presenting her visionary work for the first time in Japan, and Théâtre de la Ville-Paris, one of the leading playhouses in Europe.

Another highlight not to be missed is “Blue Tarp“, an outdoor performance developed with 10 students from Fukushima Prefectural Iwaki Sogo Senior High School in 2013. The original performance was undertaken in the grounds of their school with signs of the devastation from 2011’s earthquake and tsunami still visible in the background. The emotional story of life, death and hope brought students together during the struggle to come to terms with an absent classmate. Now, a few years on, the performance is being resurrected with some of the original cast in a former school in Toshima.

bluetarp
The site from the original 2013 performance of “Blue Tarp”

God Bless Baseball” is a creative look at the past, present and future relationships between three countries – Japan, Korea and America.

Renowned playwright and director Toshiki Okada has a particularly interesting approach to his art. He re-examines the history of Japan and Korea through the perspective baseball, an American spor that has been successfully imported into both nations. According to the show’s write-up, “the result isa sweeping exploration of the influence of America on modern Asian history, taking in both personal experiences of baseball and the stories of major league players in Japan and Korea.”

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A scene from “God Bless Baseball”

Whether you’re into film, theater, art or talks, the sheer breadth of Festival/Tokyo’s offerings will keep everyone satisfied.

Due to the performances spanning a variety of languages (some screenings also with subtitles), it’s definitely worth checking out Festival/Tokyo’s performance language guide before working out your plan of attack: http://www.festival-tokyo.jp/15/en/news/performance-language-guide/

Festival/Tokyo 2015

When: October 31 – December 6
Where: Various venues. For details of each venue: http://www.festival-tokyo.jp/15/en/access/
How much: Ticket prices range from free – ¥4,000. High school students and under tickets ¥1,000
More information and the full lineup: http://www.festival-tokyo.jp/en/

–Chris Zajko

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