Japan Society Presents DOGUGAESHI, 9/18-22
Japan Society proudly welcomes renowned puppet artist Basil Twist with the return of his critically acclaimed, award-winning Dogugaeshi as Japan Society's Performing Arts Program commences its 60th Anniversary season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond!. A limited engagement, 7 performances only, plays September 18-22 at Japan Society (333 East 47th Street).
In Dogugaeshi, a swirling whirlpool leads into a mystical world where a white fox, the piece's sole figurative puppet, guides viewers through a forest of ever-unfolding, infinitely intricate images of ancient and modern Japan. Inspired by the centuries-old stage mechanism once commonly used in Japanese puppet theater (dogugaeshi), this production features nearly 100 handcrafted painted screens that slide, swivel, bend and bounce, drawing audiences into a mesmerizing landscape. Dogugaeshi features four puppeteers, including Basil Twist, and a live performance by master shamisen player and experimental musician Yumiko Tanaka, whose multilayered music collage embraces everything from traditional tunes to popular songs. For the upcoming engagement, Japan Society's 260-seat auditorium will be transformed into an intimate 70-seat black box theater.
Performance runs approximately 60 minutes.
Commissioned by Japan Society in 2003, Dogugaeshi premiered to wide acclaim there in 2004 and returned to New York during the Society's Centennial Celebration in 2007. Winner of a 2005 Bessie Award and New York Innovative Theatre Artistic Achievement Award, the show has toured extensively, including several appearances in Japan, and was part of Basil Twist's 2012 career retrospective festival in Washington, D.C. In addition to the appearance at Japan Society this Fall, Dogugaeshi will have performances at Hamilton College (Hamilton, NY; September 13-14); Radar L.A. (RedCat, Los Angeles, CA; September 26-29); and Cal Performances (Berkley, CA; November 6-10).
This multidisciplinary production includes Video Projection Design by Peter Flaherty (Broadway: Sondheim on Sondheim; Parsifal at The Metropolitan Opera; Soul Leaves Her Body at HERE; Big Dance Theater's The Other Here; Complicite's The Elephant Vanishes; The Builder's Association's Continuous City), Lighting Design by Andrew Hill (Big Dance Theater's Shunkin; Len Jenkin's Like I Say) and Sound Design by Greg Duffin (Conne Production's Luna; Resident Sound Designer for Japan Society NYC since 2004; Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique and Arias with a Twist; Work and Screenplay for the Flea Theater; The Wild Pear for Theatre Arts Japan; Flyers and Other Tales for Heels Hit First). Associate Lighting Designer is Ayumu "Poe" Saegusa (Basil Twist's Rite of Spring and Arias with a Twist). Puppeteers for the New York engagement: Basil Twist, Kate Brehm, David Ojala and Jessica Scott.
History of stage mechanism dogugaeshi in Japan:
The antique Japanese puppet theater mechanism dogugaeshi (dogu means "tool" or "theater set" and gaeshi means "to turn over") hails from Awaji Island and Tokushima prefecture, with a long tradition within Japanese folk puppet theater. Featuring a series of intricately painted screens that slide open to reveal image after image in rapid succession, dogugaeshi developed over centuries, with a history inextricably linked to that of Japanese puppetry. It is said that Japanese traditional puppet theater, or ningyo joruri, took root in the mid-17th century when puppet manipulation, the tradition of oral narrative and the music of the three-stringed shamisen were combined in dramatic form. It became one of the most popular entertainments in Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when Japan's flourishing merchant class greatly valued entertainment. During that period, puppet troupes were formed and professional theater rapidly evolved in major cities such as Kyoto, Osaka and Edo (modern day Tokyo), while in rural areas, popular folk puppet theater traditions continued to thrive. While the Awaji Puppet Theater is the only professional troupe that gives regular public performances using the dogugaeshi technique today, the dogugaeshi tradition is still present in rural village folk puppet festivals, mainly in Tokushima prefecture.