Japan Society Announces 2018-2019 Performing Arts Season Including Play Readings, Dance and Music Programs

Japan Society announces its 2018-2019 Performing Arts Season, featuring works by visionary artists in dance, music, theater and more, along with one-of-a-kind related workshops and related events, as detailed below. All events take place at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street. Tickets available to Japan Society members beginning Tuesday, July 31; tickets available to all beginning Tuesday, August 7. For tickets and further detail, please visit www.japansociety.org or call 212-715-1258.

Hauta Shamisen: Edo-Period Love Songs; Performed by Hidetaro Honjoh, Hidejiro Honjoh & Yumi Kurosawa
Friday, September 14 at 7:30pm
Shamisen master Hidetaro Honjoh offers a traditional-style concert featuring works from the hauta repertoire, the quintessential "pop music" of its time. In this one-night-only concert, this virtuoso of Edo-period love songs serenades and transports audiences to the streets of pre-modern Tokyo. The program also includes tunes from the working class of various rural areas that radiate a tender, à la mode vibe. Awarded Japan's highest honor for artists, the Medal with Purple Ribbon, Hidetaro Honjoh restores gems from this fading genre of music from the end of the samurai era. He will be joined on stage by one of his leading students, Hidejiro Honjoh, on shamisen and kokyu (traditional Japanese string instrument), and New York-based koto player Yumi Kurosawa. Tickets: $35/$28 Japan Society members.
>>Related Event: Workshop / The Principles of Traditional Japanese Singing / Sunday, September 16

Shamisen Evolution; Performed by Hidejiro Honjoh & ICE
Friday, October 5 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Listen to Hidejiro Honjoh, young shamisen prodigy and disciple of Hidetaro Honjoh, create this traditional instrument's 21st-century voice in an evening featuring living composers from the U.S. and Japan. Joined by members of the most sought-after contemporary music group International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Hidejiro delivers three world premieres composed by Grammy-nominee Vijay Iyer, Nathan Davis and Yu Kuwabara. The program also includes pieces by Yuji Takahashi and Dai Fujikura, along with the American premiere of the full score of Scott Johnson's Up and Back for shamisen, electric guitar, cello and piano. Joined by: Phyllis Chen (piano), Nathan Davis (dulcimer/percussion), Rebekah Heller (bassoon), Katinka Kleijn (cello), Scott Johnson (electric guitar). Tickets: $38/$30 Japan Society members.

Unusual Pairings; Performed by Akiko Yano & Seiho
Saturday, November 10 at 7:30pm
Acclaimed pianist/singer-songwriter Akiko Yano returns to Japan Society for a U.S. premiere collaboration with rising Osaka-based electronic sound artist/DJ and ikebana (flower arranging) specialist Seiho. This singular concert mixes the distinct stylings of Yano's piano and singing with Seiho's thumping, atmospheric beats-not to mention, flower arranging. Audiences are invited along on an atmospheric voyage into the soundscapes of these two formidable artists as their music melds, merges and even takes shape in floral form. Tickets: $38/$30 Japan Society members.

Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia
Friday, January 4 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Saturday, January 5 at 7:30pm
This year's festival (formerly known as Contemporary Dance Showcase, which in 2017 enjoyed its 17th presentation) includes, from Japan, a revival of butoh master Akira Kasai's renowned work Pollen Revolution, specially recreated to be performed by his son Mitsutake Kasai. The festival also features, from Korea, Silver Knife by Goblin Party, which delves into the conflicting sides of female identity, conveying complex human emotions through the eloquent body movements of four women; and from Taiwan, choreographed by emerging star Kuan-Hsiang Liu, Kids is a tribute to death and the choreographer's late mother. Performed to voice recordings of Liu with his mother during her fight against cancer, this modern-day grief ritual is full of idiosyncratic movements and moments of serenity and peace. Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members.

100 Years Stray; Written by SaringROCK; Directed by Taylor Reynolds; Translated by Aya Ogawa 14th Installment of Japan Society's Play Reading Series
Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A)
Children go missing, meteors rain from the sky and a blue demon lurks just out of sight in Japanese playwright SaringROCK's 100 Years Stray, nominated for the prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2013. New York-based director and theater-maker Taylor Reynolds tackles this apocalyptic coming-of-age story in a staged reading that explores a fictional universe where extreme isolation is the norm and women no longer exist. Playwright SaringROCK joins in a post-performance Q&A with the audience and director. Japan Society's Play Reading Series, now in its 14th Installment, introduces topical plays from up-and-coming playwrights in Japan to artists and audiences in the U.S., regularly pairing Japanese plays and playwrights with American directors and actors for a one-night-only staged reading at the Society. Tickets: $15/$10 Japan Society members.

Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater with live chanting and shamisen music
Thursday, February 28 at 7:30pm (Program A; Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Friday, March 1 at 7:30pm (Program B)
Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm (Program A)
Koryu Nishikawa, the fifth grand master of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater, returns to NYC with four female-focused stories from classical literature: Kuzunoha, about a mother's undying love for her child; Date Musume Koi Higanoko, which depicts a woman's heroic sacrifice for her lover; Tsuri On'na, a comical piece about "fishing" for a wife; and Yugao, a new work from Nishikawa based on a story from The Tale of Genji, in which the jealous spirit of one of Genji's lovers possesses a young woman he's courting. Kuruma ningyo, literally meaning "puppets on wheels," refers to the company's unique technique in which the puppeteer sits atop a three-wheeled dolly, adding an element of dynamism and power to each character. Don't miss this rare chance to see a full-scale production with chanters and shamisen players. Tickets: $40/$33 Japan Society members. Program A (February 28 & March 2 at 7:30pm): Yugao / Date Musume Koi Higanoko / Tsuri On'na Program B (March 1 at 7:30pm): Yugao / Date Musume Koi Higanoko / Kuzunoha
>>A pre-performance lecture begins one hour prior to the start of each performance (FREE and open to all ticketholders).
>>Related Event: Two-Day Workshop / Master Class on Kuruma Ningyo Puppetry / Saturday, March 2 & Sunday March 3

Cross Transit; Choreographed by Akiko Kitamura
Friday, March 22 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Saturday, March 23 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A)
How can Cambodia's past be preserved through the human body? Internationally-acclaimed Japanese dancer and founder/ former choreographer of Leni-Basso dance company Akiko Kitamura tackles this challenge with Cambodian visual artist/photographer Kim Hak. Ambitious yet poetic, Cross Transit is a multimedia dance piece in which Hak's video, photos, voice and personal experiences intertwine with Kitamura's bold, progressive choreography. Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members.

You Took a Part of Me; Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Friday, April 12 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Saturday, April 13 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A)
You Took a Part of Me is a wired dance production with choreography by the "punk ballerina" Karole Armitage for her five-member dance company, Armitage Gone! Dance. Loosely based on the 15th-century noh play Nonomiya, it explores erotic entanglement, unresolved attachments and the search for harmony, all of which are hallmarks of noh drama. Set to live music by Reiko Yamada and Yuki Isami, the show embraces new technologies created by MIT Media Lab designers. The lead role, by Armitage's longtime collaborator Megumi Eda, highlights sinuous, seductive movement executed with ferocious intensity in a dream-like state. Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members.
>>Presented in conjunction with Carnegie Hall's festival entitled Migrations: The Making of America.

Ashita no Ma-Joe: Rocky Macbeth; Theater Company Kaimaku Pennant Race; Written & Directed by Yu Murai
Wednesday, May 15 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Thursday, May 16 at 7:30pm
Friday, May 17 at 8:30pm
Saturday, May 18 at 2:30pm & 8:30pm
Yu Murai, founder of the Theater Company Kaimaku Pennant Race, cleverly retells Macbeth through the 1960s mega-hit manga Ashita no Joe, providing insight into how the tale of one young man's rise from delinquent to professional boxer parallels that of the Scottish king. Laced through with reimaginings of indelible scenes from both works, this production is sure to titillate Shakespeare and manga lovers alike - as Murai employs the mythos surrounding the boxer Joe to create a theatrical production in which two worlds fraught with angst and ambition collide and align. Performed in Japanese with English titles. Tickets: $28/$20 Japan Society members.
>>Presented in conjunction with the Society's exhibition entitled Radicalism in the Wilderness: Japanese artists in the Global 1960s.

Workshop / The Principles of Traditional Japanese Singing
Sunday, September 16, 1:30-3:30pm
World-renowned shamisen master Hidetaro Honjoh leads a workshop that explores the diverse range of traditional songs written for shamisen accompaniment, from the melody-driven style of utamono to the story-driven chanting of joruri. Great for composers, performers, researchers and singer/songwriters, this workshop will introduce the fundamentals of how classical shamisen music is structured and vocalized. Maximum 20 participants. Tickets: $35/$30 Japan Society members.

Lecture / Suicide Culture & its Influences on Artists
Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30pm
How has the subject of suicide been expressed through the arts, and what are some of the current statistical trends in Japan? Join us for this introspective look at suicide culture and how artists today are approaching the topic in their work with an expert scholar. Taiwanese-Japanese-American playwright Kristine Haruna Lee also joins to talk about the inspiration for her latest work Suicide Forest, set to premiere in February 2019 at The Bushwick Starr. Tickets: $15/$10 Japan Society members.

Two-Day Workshop / Master Class on Kuruma Ningyo Puppetry
Saturday, March 2, 1:00-3:30pm Sunday, March 3, 11:30am-2:00pm
Learn about the unique mechanics of kuruma ningyo in this two-day workshop led by Koryu Nishikawa V. The first day will cover the basics of Japanese puppetry, including the three-person manipulation method found in bunraku. The second day will be spent mastering a select piece from kuruma ningyo's repertoire. Professional puppeteering experience required; Maximum 12 participants. Tickets: 1-day Ticket: $50/$40 Japan Society members; 2-day Tickets: $90/$75 Japan Society members.

Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced nearly 700 of Japan's finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-Edge Theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs. "At once diverse and daring, the program stands toe to toe with some of the most comprehensive cultural exchange endeavors today." --Back Stage.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society in New York City presents sophisticated, topical and accessible experiences of Japanese art and culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and innovation between the U.S. and Japan. More than 200 events annually encompass world-class exhibitions, dynamic classical and cutting-edge contemporary performing arts, film premieres and retrospectives, workshops and demonstrations, tastings, family activities, language classes, and a range of high-profile talks and expert panels that present open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.

Tickets for performances and related events at Japan Society can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-715-1258 or in person at Japan Society (M-F 11:00am - 7:00pm and Sat-Sun 11:00am - 5:00pm). Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street).

For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit https://www.japansociety.org/

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