THE BEE to Play as Part of the 2012 Under the Radar Festival

By: Dec. 10, 2011
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As part of the Under The Radar Festival 2012, Japan Society will present THE BEE, directed and co-written by celebrated director/playwright Hideki Noda.  This production, co-produced with the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, London's Soho Theatre and NODA?MAP, runs Thursday, January 5 – Sunday, January 15 at Japan Society (333 East 47th Street).

Manga comic-strip-like frenzy becomes a thought-provoking nightmare in the revenge thriller THE BEE.  Co-written by Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan and inspired by Yasutaka Tsutsui's short story Mushiriai, (part of Tsutsui's collection entitled Metamorphosis Guntou), this work directed by Noda electrified audiences and London's theater community when it premiered at the Soho Theatre in 2006.  THE BEE tells the tale of an ordinary Japanese businessman who turns savage after his wife and son are taken hostage by an escaped convict.  When the police fail to help and a media circus ensues, the businessman visits the kidnapper's wife to beg for assistance.  What happens next is unthinkable.  This production features Kathryn Hunter, Glyn Pritchard, Clive Mendus and Hideki Noda.  Within a minimalist set and eerily beautiful soundtrack, the four cast members seamlessly shift between characters.  THE BEE is performed in English.  Performances January 11 & 12 include Japanese subtitles.

Conceived by Japan's celebrated playwright and director Hideki Noda, THE BEE draws "links between comedy and pain, beauty and cruelty," (Financial Times).  THE BEE won the Asahi Performing Arts Award Grand Prix and the Yomiuri Theater awards Grand Prize for best play.  THE BEE was presented at London's Soho Theatre (2006) and Theatre Tram, Setagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo (Japanese version with Japanese cast, and English version with original London cast, both 2007).  Following the presentation at Japan Society as part of the Under The Radar Festival, the English version of THE BEE will travel to London's Soho Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Tokyo's Suitengu Pit.  Following this tour, the Japan Tour will begin in April with a Japanese cast (including Hideki Noda and Ryohei Kondo of Condors Dance Company) with engagements set in Tokyo, Osaka, Kita-Kyushu, Matsumoto and Shizuoka.

Japan Society Artistic Director Yoko Shioya shares, "It means a lot for us to be able to present both Hideki Noda's THE BEE and Toshiki Okada's chelfitsch Theater Company (Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech) in our first time participating in the Under The Radar Festival.  These shows truly illustrate what's going on in Japanese experimental contemporary theater.  In some ways, these plays represent 'opposites' in style and what they communicate.  In Toshiki Okada's play, characters avoid intimate and meaningful exchanges.  The work portrays Japan's "Generation Y," a generation known for handling matters lightly, if not indifferently.  In counterpoint, Hideki Noda's plays always contain one or more eccentric characters full of enormous, almost overwhelming, emotions and energy.  Yet, there is a common theme that these artists and their plays illustrate: the deeply rooted tendencies surrounding communication in Japanese society.  While the exterior of Japan's communication is tremendously polite and kind, beneath the surface, in Okada's world – apathy is ingrained – while in Noda's world, any event may trigger an eruption of previously suppressed emotion."

Hideki Noda (THE BEE, Co-writer, Director and Actor: "Ogoro's wife," "Reporter") is a playwright, director and actor.  He became the artistic director of Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in July 2009.  Noda launched his first theatre company, Yume no Yuminsha (Dreaming Bohemian) in 1976 while a student at the University of Tokyo, creating many works to much acclaim.  In 1988 Yume no Yuminsha performed Noda's play Comet Messenger-Siegfried at BAM's then Majestic Theater, presented as part of The First New York International Festival of the Arts.  After disbanding the company in 1992, he went to study in London and in the following year established a Production Company called NODA?MAP.  Since then, he has presented a succession of major hits, including Kill, Pandora no kane (Pandora's Bell), Oil, Akaoni (Red Demon), THE BEE, THE DIVER, The Character and South.  He has collaborated with the celebrated Kabuki actor Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII and adapted Kabuki plays and directed productions such as Tragedy of Togitatsu and Nezumikozo, in a so-called Noda-style Kabuki.  Noda is also actively involved in international productions, working with Thai and British actors.  Hideki Noda has been awarded most of the major drama prizes in Japan including the 2009 Asahi Prize.  He was appointed an Honorary Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in October 2009 and earned the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese Government (for contributions to education and culture) in June 2011.

THE BEE Co-writer Colin Teevan's recent stage work includes The Lion of Kabul part of The Great Game (Tricycle Theatre, London), How Many Miles to Basra? (winner of 2007 Clarion Award for Best New Play), THE DIVER also co-written with Hideki Noda.  Also Missing Persons, Four Tragedies and Roy Keane and Monkey! (The Young Vic), The Walls (National Theatre, London).  Adaptations include Kafka's Monkey (Young Vic), Peer Gynt, (National Theatre Scotland and Barbican Theatre) Don Quixote with Pablo Ley and Svejk (Gate Theatre/TFANA, NY).  Translations include: Euripides' Bacchai (National Theatre, London) and Manfridi's Cuckoos (Barbican, London) both directed by Sir Peter Hall, Marathon by Edoardo Erba (Gate London) and Iph. . .after Euripides (Lyric, Belfast). Television includes "Single Handed" for RTE and ITV, "Vera" starring Brenda Blethyn for ITV, and forthcoming trilogy "Citizen Charlie" for RTE and Touchpaper TV.  He has written over 20 plays for BBC Radio and is currently senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.  All his work is published by Oberon Books.

Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter (THE BEE, Actor: "Ido") has theater credits including Kafka's Monkey - Solo (Young Vic), King Lear – The Fool (RSC), Antony & Cleopatra – title role (RSC), Fragments (Young Vic, Bouffes du Nord & World Tour), THE BEE (Soho Theatre), Whistling Psyche (Almeida Theatre), Richard III – title role and The Taming of the Shrew – Katarina (Globe), King Lear – title role (Leicester, Tokyo, Globe), Electra (Leicester), Spoonface Steinberg – solo (Ambassadors, Washington), Mother Courage – title role (Ambassadors, Spoletto Festival),  Pericles and The Visit (Complicite, National – Olivier Award for Best Actress, 1990).  As a Director: Othello (RSC), The Birds (National), Mr Puntila and his man Matti (Almeida, Albery, Traverse), The Glory of Living (Royal Court), Comedy of Errors and Pericles (The Globe).  Film credits include: Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, All or Nothing, Wet and Dry, Orlando, Baby of Macon.  Television credits include "Rome," "Silent Witness."  She most recently appeared in Beckett's Fragments directed by Peter Brook and presented at the Baryshnikov Arts Center by Theatre for a New Audience.

Glyn Pritchard (THE BEE, Actor: "Anchoku," "Ogoro," "Ogoro's son," "Reporter") trained at the Webber Douglas Academy, London.  His theater credits include The Dark Philosophers (National Theatre Wales/Told by an Idiot),The Black Album, Fuente Ovehuna, Ghetto (Royal National Theatre), Othello (R.S.C.) THE BEE, THE DIVER (NODA?MAP / Soho Theatre), A Family Affair (Arcola Theatre), Under Milk Wood (Tricycle Theatre), Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Hard Times (Theatre Clwyd), A Christmas Carol (Dukes Theatre), Body Talk (Royal Court Theatre).  His television credits include "Brookside," "The Indian Doctor," "Coronation Street," "A Mind To Kill," "Pobol Y Cwm."  Film credits include Hunky Dori, Butterflies, Weekenders, Death of a Son, The Last Minute, Lion.

Clive Mendus (THE BEE, Actor: "Dodoyama," "King of Chefs," "Reporter") has spent over thirty years touring in the UK and internationally.  This marks his second collaboration with Hideki Noda.  Previously, he appeared in Red Demon at the Young Vic, London.  He has collaborated most of his working life with Complicite.  Credits with Complicite include The Street of Crocodiles, The Visit, Help I'm Alive, Caucasian Chalk Circle and later this year, The Master and Margarita.  He has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Co. acting in Othello (directed by Kathryn Hunter) and movement directing on The Comedy of Errors.  He also works as a movement director with credits including The 39 Steps (London) and A Respectable Wedding (Young Vic).