Pig Iron Theatre Company to Premiere ZERO COST HOUSE at Philadelphia Live Arts Festival
Pig Iron Theatre Company is excited to announce the world premiere of ZERO COST HOUSE, a new work of performance created in collaboration between Pig Iron and Toshiki Okada, esteemed Japanese playwright and the director of chelfitsch, an acclaimed dance-theater ensemble. The piece will premiere in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, which runs September 7-22, 2012. The show is set to open Saturday, September 8th at 8 p.m. The show will be performed at Arts Bank at the University of the Arts, 601 South Broad Street. Tickets cost $23-$35 and are available online at www.livearts-fringe.com or by calling 215-413-1318. This will be Pig Iron’s 24th original work, and the company’s 12th premiere at the Festival, coming off sold-out houses, rave reviews, and standing ovations for TWELFTH NIGHT: OR WHAT YOU WILL (2011), CANKERBLOSSOM (2010), and WELCOME TO YUBA CITY (2009).
ZERO COST HOUSE is a sly, elusive work of autobiography, a play about moving out of Tokyo and re-reading Henry David Thoreau's Walden. The seeds for this piece were planted in 2010, when Pig Iron co-founder and Co-Artistic Director Dan Rothenberg directed the first English translation of Okada’s work, a play about temp workers at a manga café entitled ENJOY, at 59E59 Theatres in New York City. ENJOY’s critically-acclaimed run (“pitch-perfect direction” – NY Times) sparked a conversation between Rothenberg and Okada about a full-on collaboration with Pig Iron.
After Pig Iron’s initial creative collision with Okada, hosted by PlayMakers Repertory Company (Chapel Hill, NC) as part of a program funded by the Mellon Foundation, a proposal was offered: this piece would be a kind of memoir-in-performance (albeit filtered through Okada’s radically contemporary approach to form.) ZERO COST HOUSE follows the writer’s move away from Tokyo following the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake, when he left the city for the rural province of Kumamoto. There, he moved in with “experimental architect” Kyohei Sakaguchi (0yenhouse.com), who had purchased a huge rural house, populated it with artists and friends, and declared himself Prime Minister of Japan in a prankish, politically-skewed response to the government’s duplicity following the disaster. (Ministries were given out to Sakaguchi’s associates; his 3 year-old daughter was named the “Minister of Mascots”.)
Thanks to grants from the Japan Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council (among others), Pig Iron was able to secure funding to send the ensemble to Japan from July 22, 2012 until August 8, 2012. There, the creative team will do research on Okada’s life and surroundings, and work with him the development of ZERO COST HOUSE. Artists from the ensemble will be writing a joint tour-diary during their time in Japan.
ZERO COST HOUSE will feature Pig Iron regulars Dito van Reigersberg, James Sugg, and Alex Torra, as well as Mary McCool (New Paradise Laboratories) and Shavon Norris (idiosynCrazy productions). Dan Rothenberg will direct from a script created by Okada in collaboration with the ensemble, translated by Aya Ogawa. Mimi Lien (LOVE UNPUNISHED, WELCOME TO YUBA CITY, OBIE Winner for Sustained Excellence in Design 2012) and Maiko Matsushima (YUBA CITY, TWELFTH NIGHT set design) will design the set and the costumes, respectively. Katie Down and Peter West, both Pig Iron newcomers, will design sound and lighting for the piece. Jackie Sibblies Drury, an acclaimed playwright and the recent recipient of the inaugural Jerome New York Fellowship, joins Pig Iron as a dramaturg and contributing writer.
Toshiki Okada is a Japanese playwright, theater director, and novelist, founder of the theatrical company chelfitsch. He was awarded the 2008Kenzabur? ?e Prize for The end of the special time we were allowed, a book consisting of two novels. He is known for "his use of hyper-colloquialJapanese and his unique choreography. Born in Yokohama in 1973, Okada formed the theatrical company chelfitsch in 1997. The name chelfitsch, a play on the English language word "selfish," is always written with a lowercase c. Okada has directed all of the company's productions. His work has received numerous honors and awards. Five Days in March, a play that juxtaposes a couple spending five days in a love hotel against the beginning of the Iraq War, won the 49th Kishida drama award in 2005. Air-Conditioner was a finalist at the 2005 Toyota Choreography Awards, and Enjoy was presented in December 2006 at the New National Theatre Tokyo. Besides directing his own plays, he has also directed Samuel Beckett's Cascando for the Tokyo International Arts Festival and K?b? Abe's Friends at the Setagaya Public Theater. Besides performances in Japan, chelfitsch has toured to Brussels, Vienna, Paris, Cardiff, Salzburg, Singapore, New York City, Seattle, and other cities.
Funding for the creation of ZERO COST HOUSE has been provided by the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, a program of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; by the Japan Foundation; by the Asian Cultural Council, by the Independence Foundation New Works Initiative; by the National Endowment for the Arts; by the William Penn Foundation; and by the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital.