Japan Society Proudly Presents North American Premiere of GIRL X

By: Jan. 18, 2017

As part of its 2016-2017 Performing Arts Season, Japan Society proudly presents the North American Premiere of the original Japanese production of Girl X, written and directed by Suguru Yamamoto and performed by Yamamoto's company Theater Collective HANCHU-YUEI. This dark, thought-provoking comedy offers a glimpse into an anxiety-ridden post-3/11 Japan, weaving a tapestry of complex emotions through dialogue, the highly physical performance of two actors on stage, and carefully crafted projections on screen mirroring a text messaging-obsessed contemporary society. In Japanese with English titles. Performances take place Thursday, February 16; Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18 at 7:30pm at Japan Society (333 East 47th Street).

Set in present-day Tokyo, Girl X conveys the mood of an anxiety-ridden society through the members of an anonymous urban family: "Sister," who lives with her rich "Husband" and young daughter, her derelict "Younger Brother," and "Man," her former boyfriend who now wanders the streets in search of the "Enemy." Written by young Japanese playwright Suguru Yamamoto in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, Girl X has received international acclaim for capturing a spectrum of complicated emotions. Girl X premiered in Japan in 2013 and had subsequent performances in Malaysia and Thailand in 2014. The play was introduced to New York audiences in March 2016 in an English-language reading led by director Charlotte Brathwaite, as the 12th installment of Japan Society's annual Play Reading Series of contemporary Japanese plays in English translation. Now, the Society proudly presents this North American premiere of the original Japanese production, written and directed by Suguru Yamamoto and performed by Kazuki Ohashi and Sachiro Nomoto of Yamamoto's Theater Collective HANCHU-YUEI. Surtitle translation by Yui Terada. Costumes by Kyoko Fujitani (FAIFAI). Assistant Director is Risa Fujie.

Suguru Yamamoto (playwright/director) was born in 1987 in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. He founded Theater Collective HANCHU-YUEI for which he writes, directs and acts. His works have received attention throughout Asia for the unique way they integrate projected text, photos, colors, light and shadow with the live performance on stage, and for plot lines that encourage audiences to question their ethical viewpoints and boundaries. Yamamoto has worked on co-productions in Malaysia, Thailand, India, China and Singapore. His play I Can't Die without Being Born was nominated for the prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award. Yamamoto was selected as a Saison fellow in 2015-16 and as an artist support recipient by Steep Slope Studio. Yamamoto's solo project Dokyuntomento is scheduled to be presented in Sydney, Australia in March 2017.

Based in Tokyo, HANCHU-YUEI is a theater collective founded in 2007 by Suguru Yamamoto, that tours nationally and internationally. Yamamoto writes and directs all productions for the nine-member collective which also includes Kazuki Ohashi, Fumi Kumakawa, Sachiro Nomoto, Mikie Tanaka, Kan Fukuhara (performers), Kazuki Takakura (art director), Satoshi Kawaguchi (writer) and Momo Sakamoto (producer). The company's plays traverse and question the fine line between fantasy and reality. The creation of each story begins with an interest in subjects such as life and death, feelings and words, collective society and family, and from there, strikes to access universal "questions."

Girl X premiered in February 2013 at the Shinjuku Ophthalmologist Gallery in Tokyo and was subsequently presented at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre as part of the Tokyo Performing Arts Market (TPAM) in 2014. That same year, Girl X was presented at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Lumpur, Malaysia alongside Gadis X (performed in Malay), a co-directed project with Ayam Fared performed, and in Bangkok, Thailand at Chulalongkorn University. In 2015, a Democrazy Theatre (Thai) co-production of Girl X (in Thai) was performed at KAAT as part of the Tokyo Performing Arts Market (TPAM) in 2015 and Yamamoto's Girl X was performed at the Komaba Agora Theater (Tokyo), Con Carino (Sapporo) and Aichi Arts Theater (Nagoya). In 2016, an English language reading of the play was presented at Japan Society (New York) and the full production at Hangzhou Grand Theatre - KEBIAN Theatre as part of the Hangzhou Contemporary Theater Festival (Hangzhou, China) in 2016. Girl X is scheduled to tour to Iwate, Japan and Shenzhen, China in March 2017. Girl X received the Best Play and Best Script awards at the Bangkok Theater Festival 2014.

As announced, Japan Society's 2016-2017 Performing Arts Season features works by visionary artists in dance, music and theater. The season commenced in September with About Kazuo Ohno, by Takao Kawaguchi; and continued with Sounds to Summon the Japanese Gods, with Ko Ishikawa, internationally celebrated contemporary musician and master player of the ancient sho (November 11, 2016); and the unique event Treasured Noh Plays from the Desk of W. B. Yeats, by the distinguished Kita Noh Theater Company, led by Living National Treasure Tomoeda Akiyo, featuring talks, highlights and performances of titles from the collection of the first published book of English-translated noh scripts in (November 19 & 20, 2016, presented in conjunction with Japan Society Gallery's fall exhibition Simon Starling: At Twilight). The season continued with the family offering Hanasaka Jiisan (The Old Man Who Made Flowers Bloom), with PINK BUNNY by New York-based puppet artist Maiko Kikuchi (December 10 & 11, 2016) and the return of the much-anticipated winter program, the 17th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia (January 6 & 7, 2017). Following this North American premiere of Girl X, in a fully-staged presentation of the Japanese production of the acclaimed play written and directed by Suguru Yamamoto (February 16 - 18, 2017); the season continues with Nihon Buyo Dance with Geimaruza including traditional kabuki and folk dance and original neo-traditional arrangements, accompanied by live musicians (March 3 & 4, with family performance on March 5, 2017); and concludes with a one-night-only music event for all monster movie enthusiasts: Godzilla Legend - Music of Akira Ifukube, performed by Hikashu with special guest musicians including Charan-Po-Rantan (April 28, 2017).

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.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

Tickets & Information:

Performances are Thursday, February 16*; Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18 at 7:30pm.

Tickets are $30 / $25 Japan Society members.

* followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-715-1258 or in person at Japan Society (M-F 11:00am - 6:00pm 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 http://www.japansociety.org.