Festival/Tokyo 2011 Preview

Festival/Tokyo 11 has announced its full Program of performances and events, with the focus being on two themes: taking the Festival — and theatre — out of conventional performance spaces and deeper into the city, and how F/T — and Japan — can respond to the 3.11 crisis.

The former is best revealed in the choice of a number of outdoor productions, including Ishinha, who will present a piece on the roof of the Seibu department store in Ikebukuro. Likewise F/T regulars Normizu Ameya and Romeo Castellucci have teamed up for a double-bill inspired by the poetry of Kenji Miyazawa. These will be performed together at Yumenoshima, a location implicit with the context of Japan’s post-war economic growth.

Visiting production Cinecittà Aperta by German giant René Pollesch is also happening outside, this time on a large vacant plot in Toyosu, and will involve a moving car and the audience partly following the action by screens.

Akira Takayama, fresh from success in Vienna, will tackle the current dilemmas of Japan in a project that manifests both of the Festival key ideas. His “Referendum” is comprised of a series of talks and discussions with experts and members of the public on how a plebiscite on nuclear power could be actually held in Japan. (The country has never had a referendum on any subject.) Following this period of research and interaction, polling booths will be set up at sites around Tokyo and people recommended to visit them to vote on how they feel about the topic. The results will then be counted and published.

There are also a number of satellite programs, including readings and talks, and a roaming F/T Station information centre this time (as opposed to a single large installation in front of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space as in previous years), that will take the Festival spirit around different parts of Tokyo.

Though not outdoor performances, new stagings by art unit CHAOS*LOUNGE, Yudai Kamisato and Akio Miyazawa all will deal with 3.11 and its resulting social effects. Other presentations in the main Festival include dancer Tsuyoshi Shirai and Jerome Bel’s globe-trotting The Show Must Go On.

F/T Emerging Artists Program

This worthy program looking to build up a platform of future talent has this year expanded into mainland Asia, and the Korean and Chinese participants look especially good. Many in fact are already quite established internationally — at least, compared to the Japanese artists — and especially Geumhyung Jeong, Modern Table and Ka Fai Choy are known names.

One wonders why Kunio Sugihara wants to stage Angels in America, which has been performed already in Japan and is a play so representative of America in the Nineties, but perhaps it will provide new learnings for locals.

However, contributions from the extraordinarily named Pure BANANA girls class and Peachum Company seem more consciously “Japanese”. Pure BANANA present frenetic pop culture-inspired celebrations of idol performances, while Peachum Company are drawing on the symbolism of Tokyo Tower as a modern day version of Christian church architecture that attempted to reach up, Babel-like, to the heavens. With the Sky Tree set to replace the aging Tokyo Tower, their outdoor staging will also form a kind of requiem for the landmark.

Co-Presentations

There are also some satellite productions happening simultaneously with the main Festival, including a new (currently untitled) work by Potudo-ru and another, ponderously titled, work Chelfitsch‘s Toshiki Okada. Others include Korean and French artists, plus the full Citizens of Seoul series from the briefly controversial Oriza Hirata.

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