Engekilife is a very snazzy SNS community website. At writing it still has lots of gaps and so is not the best place to go for information. (Though where else is a good question.) But it does give an idea of what/who is popular (if you see what people are writing about), and it can be fun to read the user reviews.
Theater Guide is another site, though it just provides news and information. It is less visually exciting but more highbrow than Engekilife. However, like the latter, though one can search for plays, it is hard to browse. At least with Engekilife’s user comments you can learn about new things.
Co-Rich is kind of between the two extremes; not quite as intent on being user-friendly and interactive like Engkilife, but nevertheless, colorful and not too much of a nightmare to navigate. (You can, however, also become a member, like Engekilife, and post comments, but it still functions fundamentally as a jouhou – information – source.) The list of ‘picks’ from what is currently showing now is useful (especially as runs are usually short even in the commercial sector). It is also a little distinct from the others in that it appears to have more information on regions other than Tokyo and Kanto.
An odder addition to this type of site that I have found is Theater League. This is altogether a simpler affair, run by a company that offers tickets, DVDs and so on. I have used it as a resource for past winners of theatre awards and for other things in its database. (The URL address is a reference to Andrew Lloyd-Webber, I presume.)
Lastly for information sites is Fringe, which, as the name suggests, provides listings for fringe theatre. However, the site seems to be intended more for practioners than the general public searching for what’s on. Rather, it gives info on schedules for venues, so you can see if a place is available for hire, and information on getting funds and so forth.
An online magazine, Cinra, is totally in Japanese but is a good place to learn about what is coming soon, what prizes have been announced and so forth. I think this is one of the best Japanese cultural magazines I have seen online. Typically, there appears to be no criticism, just news and features.
All of these are indeed Japanese-only, but the Japan Foundation’s Performing Arts Network appears to be one hundred per cent bilingual, an impressive feat, and contains news, interviews and features (for example, they have a ‘play of the month’), plus a useful database.
Real Tokyo is a project aspiring to provide bilingual coverage of art, theatre, music and so forth. The theatre section is basically just listings, ranging from random fringe productions to the main commercial ones. Interestingly, the English edition seems to be fuller than the Japanese, indicating a disparity in the editorial teams.
Robert Allan Ackerman‘s bilingual blog can be interesting to read, as it gives the perspective of an experienced and successful western director working in Japanese theatre. The showbiz chat is less interesting (the parties he attends in LA, etc.), and the style of the entries regarding his troupe the company‘s new work are understandably promotional.
Some companies and individuals have decent English material. Hideki Noda‘s troupe has a lot, understandably so given the man’s prolific work overseas. Other companies, such as Ishinha, have some English, but it is not updated.