Japan Society Announces 2019-2020 Performing Arts Season

Japan Society proudly announces its 2019-2020 Performing Arts Season, featuring works by visionary artists in dance, music, theater and more, along with one-of-a-kind related workshops and events, as detailed below. Notably, Fall 2019 features programming thematically linked to the celebration of Japan's new era, Reiwa, following the recent May 2019 enthronement of the 126th emperor, Naruhito.

All events take place at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street in Manhattan. Tickets available to Japan Society members beginning Tuesday, July 23; General tickets available beginning Tuesday, July 30. For tickets and further detail, please visit www.japansociety.org or call 212-715-1258.


MUSIC: Reigakusha: Gagaku & Bugaku

Saturday, September 21 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Known for its ethereal tones and timbers, gagaku has been the official music of the Japanese imperial court for over a millennium and has become synonymous with the luxurious court life of the Heian period (794-1185). Founded by Sukeyasu Shiba, a former member of the gagaku ensemble at the Imperial Household, the distinguished gagaku ensemble Reigakusha presents a full spectrum of the world's oldest surviving orchestral music for this rare U.S. appearance. Reigakusha will perform from the ancient ceremonial repertoire including a bugaku piece (music ensemble with accompanying dancers) as well as contemporary works by Toru Takemitsu and Shiba himself. Tickets: $40/$32 Japan Society members.

>>A pre-performance lecture begins one hour prior to the start of the performance (FREE and open to all ticketholders).

>>Related Event: Workshop / Introduction to Gagaku Instruments / Sunday, September 22

THEATER: Kwaidan-Call of Salvation Heard from the Depths of Fear; Performed by Shiro Sano & Kyoji Yamamoto

Thursday, October 24 at 7:30pm (Followed by an ORIX Stewardship Foundation Reception)

Japan's scariest ghost stories are brought to life by acclaimed actor Shiro Sano through his dynamic reading of Kwaidan, a collection of Japanese folktales from writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). Also known as Yakumo Koizumi, Hearn was attracted to the beauty of Japan and Shintoism, which incorporates worship of nature, spirits and ancestors. Sano's reading, accompanied by powerful and exquisite live music by distinguished guitarist Kyoji Yamamoto, illustrates Hearn's open-minded view of Japan and the world. Performed in Japanese with English supertitles. Preceding the live performance, folklorist Bon Koizumi, the great-grandson of Hearn and director of the Hearn Memorial Museum in Matsue City, will give a short lecture. Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members.

MUSIC: Composing for the Sun: A Conversation with Philip Glass and a performance of a live music excerpt by Anthony Roth Costanzo

Wednesday, November 6 at 6:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

In conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera's presentation of a new production of Akhnaten, Japan Society hosts a conversation with the opera's celebrated composer Philip Glass. The opera's title character, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, moved his society toward the worship of a single god and considered himself the only son of the sun. His sun-god focused religion suggests interesting comparisons and contrasts with Japanese imperial mythology that described the emperor of Japan as a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu. Glass sits down with Professor Tom Hare of Princeton University-a specialist in Japanese and ancient Egyptian literature and arts-to talk about how he was inspired by and drawn to the Egyptian pharaoh's story, his strong interest in Japan, and more. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will sing the title role in the production, performs an excerpt from the opera. Tickets: $28/$23 Japan Society members.

THEATER: Taiten: Noh & Kyogen

Thursday, November 14 at 7:30pm (Followed by an exclusive Soirée); Friday, November 15 & Saturday, November 16 at 7:30pm

Rarely performed in the last century, Taiten is a modern noh play that was created to celebrate the enthronement of the Taisho Emperor (Japan's 123rd emperor) in 1912. In recognition of the arrival of the Reiwa era under Emperor Naruhito (the 126th), Kuroemon Katayama X, a renowned noh actor and scion of the Kyoto Kanze School, remounts this historic noh play. Per tradition, the noh play is paired with a comedic kyogen piece. Noritoshi Yamamoto from the prestigious Yamamoto Tojiro Family performs Kagyu (The Snail), one of the most popular pieces from the traditional repertoire. The dates of this program coincide with the Daijo-sai, one of the most important inauguration ceremonies for an emperor dating back to the late 7th century, which is set to take place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in November 2019. Performed in Japanese with English supertitles. Tickets: Performance + Soirée (November 14) $120/$100 Japan Society members; Performance only (November 14, 15, 16) $97/$80 Japan Society members.

>>A pre-performance lecture begins one hour prior to the start of the performance (FREE and open to all ticketholders).

>>Related Event: Two-Day Workshop / The Basics of Noh and Kyogen Theater / Friday, November 15 & Saturday, November 16

THEATER: The Unknown Dancer from the Neighborhood; Written & Directed by Suguru Yamamoto

Friday, January 10 at 7:00pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Saturday, January 11 at 7:00pm (Followed by an artist Q&A); Sunday, January 12 at 1:00pm; Tuesday, January 14 at 7:00pm

Back by popular demand after his North American debut of Girl X in 2017 at Japan Society, Suguru Yamamoto, one of Japan's hottest young playwright-directors and founder of theater company HANCHU-YUEI, returns with his latest one-man dance theater piece. The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood features Yamamoto's signature directing style, in which characters' thoughts are conveyed through projected words, alluding to the millennial generation's preferred mode of communication - texting. Blending movement, photography and colorful lighting, Yamamoto reveals the indifference and tenderness of a metropolis, where the lives of complete strangers continuously interact and coalesce. Performed in Japanese with English supertitles. This Japan Society presentation is part of The Public Theater's Under The Radar Festival 2020. Tickets: $35/$30 Japan Society members.

DANCE: Fruits borne out of rust; Directed by Tabaimo, Choreographed by Maki Morishita

Friday, March 6 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Saturday, March 7 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A)

Isolation, contagion and instability: Fruits borne out of rust, conceived of and directed by internationally-known Japanese visual artist Tabaimo, uses drawings, video installations and live music to probe these unsettling themes that lurk beneath daily existence. Tabaimo's intricate animations transform the stage into a wood floor apartment, a large birdcage that traps the dancer with a dove, and a line of tatami mats that swallows the dancer whole. Her collaborator, award-winning choreographer Maki Morishita, mischievously blends the subtle movements of the dancer's fingers and toes with the dynamic drive of her limbs and torso, enhancing Tabaimo's peculiar and introspective world. Tickets: $32/$25 Japan Society members.

THEATER: Cooking Up; Written by Shoko Matsumura; Directed by Jordana De La Cruz

15th Installment of Japan Society's Play Reading Series

Monday, March 30 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A)

The real and the surreal come together at a small French restaurant in Japan in Cooking Up, written by emerging playwright and director Shoko Matsumura. One of the finalists for the prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2018, the play takes an unusual turn when the wife of the restaurant's chef asks her husband's mistress to take the place of their missing house cat. Jordana De La Cruz, Co-Director of the OBIE Award-winning performance venue JACK in Brooklyn, directs this absurd sojourn into the private lives of the restaurant's employees. Playwright Matsumura joins in a post-performance Q&A with the audience and director. Tickets: $15/$10 Japan Society members.

THEATER: Control Officers + A New Companion Piece; Written & Directed by Oriza Hirata

Friday, May 8 at 7:30pm (Followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)

Saturday, May 9 at 7:30pm (Followed by an artist Q&A); Sunday, May 10 at 2:30pm

What's going on behind the scenes in the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo? One of Japan's most influential theater makers, Oriza Hirata, offers a comedic answer to this question through two one-act plays. Control Officers recounts a single scene in which the top male competitor hopefuls in swimming undergo a routine doping test. Hilarity ensues when the control officers try to remain neutral as the ongoing interpersonal drama between the swimmers unfolds before them. In addition, Hirata will also write a new companion piece about prosthetic technology in sports especially for this New York engagement. Hirata's theater company Seinendan, in its fourth North American tour, performs both pieces. This program aligns with a larger Japan Society-wide programming theme ahead of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. Performed in Japanese with English supertitles. Tickets: $35/$30 Japan Society members.

DANCE: Min Tanaka: Residency + Creation

June 2020

Over the past 10 years, internationally prominent dancer, choreographer and film star Min Tanaka has avoided the spotlight, opting instead to dedicate himself to site-specific solo performances called ba-odori (or, "dance in a place"). Now he triumphantly returns to the center of the performing arts world, New York City! Tanaka comes to the Society for a month-long residency to perform site-specific pieces in locations across the city and to create a new work developed alongside American performers. The residency will culminate in a world premiere in the Society's auditorium during the last week of June 2020. This marks the first time that Min Tanaka will present his stage work choreographed for a group of performers in the U.S. since 1997. Tickets & more information to be announced February 2020.

WORKSHOPS: 2019-2020 Performing Arts Season

Workshop / Introduction to Gagaku Instruments (Presented in conjunction with Music Event Reigakusha: Gagaku & Bugaku)

Sunday, September 22, 1:00-3:00pm

Delve into the enchanting melodies of the world's oldest form of orchestral music. The members of Reigakusha will introduce the individual instruments in a traditional gagaku ensemble, providing a rare opportunity for amateur and professional musicians alike to try their hand at making these otherworldly sounds. Maximum 20 participants. Tickets: $50/$40 Japan Society members.

Two-Day Workshop: Day One / The Basics of Noh (Presented in conjunction with Theater Event Taiten: Noh & Kyogen)

Friday, November 15, 1:00-3:00pm

Learn basic movements from one of Japan's most distinguished theatrical traditions that has been passed down for over 600 years. Led by noh actors from the renowned Kyoto Kanze Association, the workshop will focus on noh's stylized movements. Enjoy a rare chance to view noh masks and costumes up close as the actors share their expertise and knowledge on this centuries-old tradition. Maximum 25 participants. Professional movement/acting experience required. Participants must wear socks and workout clothes. Tickets: 1-day Ticket: $60/$40 Japan Society members; 2-day Tickets: $100/$75 Japan Society members.

Two-Day Workshop: Day Two / The Basics of Kyogen (Presented in conjunction with Theater Event Taiten: Noh & Kyogen)

Saturday, November 16, 1:00-3:00pm

Known for their rigid preservation of this art form's dignified style, members of the prestigious Yamamoto Tojiro Family of the Okura School of Kyogen will teach the exaggerated gestures and voice work needed to perform kyogen-noh's comedic cousin. Participants will learn the school's disciplined sense of physicality as well as hallmark phrases that are spoken by feudal lords and their vassals. Maximum 25 participants. Professional movement/acting experience required. Participants must wear socks and workout clothes. Tickets: 1-day Ticket: $60/$40 Japan Society members; 2-day Tickets: $100/$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 & Information: 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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