New works by major names, both newish (Toshiki Okada, Keishi Nagatsuka) and older (Koki Mitani), dominate the schedule, alongside the TPAM international conference and stage versions of familiar texts.
The latter includes Ryunosuke Akutagawa and is certainly true of Kinkakuji (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion), an adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s novel from director Amon Miyamoto, who is also artistic director of KAAT. Cynically or cleverly (whichever your preference) casting V6 boyband member Go Morita, the famous story revolves around a disturbed young monk eventually burns down the glorious temple in Kyoto.
Major directors seem to enjoy casting male idols in anguished roles, as Ninagawa has demonstrated again and again. A stage version of a decades-old text may not seem the most radical or appropriate choice for the theatre, though of course the jury is out till it opens. A play about Mishima’s own controversial life, at a time of a growing right-wing movement in Japan, might perhaps have been more interesting.
Kinkakuji, January 29 to February 14
At the same time as the TPAM conference, a series of German performances are taking place at KAAT’s studio spaces, including visits from Rimini Protokoll and She She Pop.
Artist Hiroshi Sugimoto is also staging his version of the Chikamatsu Bunraku puppet work Sonezaki Love Suicides. An experimental re-imagining of the original, New York-based Sugimoto is known for his success with a range of genre, including photography and film.
Sonezaki Love Suicides, March 23rd to 27th
Toshiki Okada continues his association with Yokohama by staging his latest, A Sonic Life of Giant Tortoise, performed by many regulars of his productions, before touring to three other venues in Japan.
His more recent plays have shown some departure from his trademark use of incongruous dance movements and disparate, banal dialogue. This new work concerns a couple and their inability to get the most out of their lives, and no doubt fans will be keen to see how his vision is developing.
A Sonic Life of Giant Tortoise, February 2nd to 15th
Finally, the last main production announced so far is another biggie. Taking a break from film work (or not), Koki Mitani’s new play Kokumin no Eiga (literally, “Film of the People”) has a starry cast and is set in 1940s Berlin.
Kokumin no Eiga, April 20th to May 1st