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Japan Society Announces Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Performing Arts Season Featuring Virtual and On-Site Programs

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Programming will feature work by Reiko Yamada, Satoko Ichihara and more

Japan Society Announces Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Performing Arts Season Featuring Virtual and On-Site Programs

Japan Society has announced its Fall 2020/Winter 2021 Performing Arts Season, featuring four innovative programs brought by visionary artists in music, theater, and more in virtual and experimental spaces. Taking this time of physical distancing as an opportunity, the program is offering new ways of bringing people together worldwide to share moments and inspiration unhindered by traditional limitations of live performance and travel.

"This lineup focuses on bridging the past and present, defying geographical distance, and collapsing the border between the physical and illusions," says Yoko Shioya, Artistic Director. "Barcelona-based Japanese composer and high-tech sound artist Reiko Yamada redefines 'pastime' through her avant-garde music, which she will use to accompany Japanese silent films of sumo matches, trains, and old animations. Star kyogen actor Mansai Nomura proves that the 650-year-old tradition is fertile soil for his production of new kyogen pieces. Kuro Tanino's experimental theater piece, The Dark Master - an innovative production utilizing VR headsets and live elements - is the perfect answer for a theater experience in a social-distancing-ruled society."

The on-site event in January will proceed at Japan Society in accordance with the updated health recommendations pertaining to COVID-19. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street in Manhattan. Tickets will be available to Japan Society members in late September. General tickets available in early October. For the most recent ticketing information and further details, please visit


MUSIC: Reiko Yamada's Sound Installation on Silent Movies

Online Video Event

October 2020

Composer and high-tech sound artist Reiko Yamada (2015-16 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the 2016-17 artist-in-residence at IEM in Austria) uses the latest technologies in electronic and acoustic music "installation" to create an interdisciplinary collaboration that bridges the gap between time and space. Performing on period accordions, Yamada creates experimental and novel ways of presenting sound and visuals in a virtual landscape. She will redefine the definition of "pastimes" in her original, avant-garde scores to silent films of sumo matches, trains, and old animations from the early 20th century. The program is followed by a live Q&A with Reiko Yamada.

THEATER: Underground Fairy

15th Installment of Japan Society's Play Reading Series

Online Video Event

November 2020

Written by award-winning playwright/director Satoko Ichihara, Underground Fairy addresses themes of isolation, inclusiveness, and the meaning of "community" as the play follows Yurieria, a half-fairy-half-human living in a fairy's community. While Yurieria is accepted by the fairies, is their inclusiveness genuine if Yurieria is viewed as an outsider? Using a series of absurd vignettes, Ichihara questions societal norms and the feelings of isolation and segregation, as well as the meaning of female sexuality associated with fertilization. NY-based director Tara Ahmadinejad, who is known for her experimentation with new ways of theater presentation using elements of Virtual Reality, animation, videos, and online components, will lead American actors in creating an innovative online presentation. Elements of audience participation will be incorporated in this online production. There will be a live post-performance Q&A with Tara Ahmadinejad and Satoko Ichihara (in Tokyo).

THEATER: Mansai Nomura's New Kyogen

Online Video Event

December 2020

Mansai Nomura, the beloved traditional kyogen actor, will appear online to show his new kyogen creations -Kagami-kaja (A Mirror Servant) and Ayu (Sweetfish) on two consecutive days. These pieces will be accompanied by a traditional kyogen piece. Kagami-kaja begins as a lighthearted exchange between a servant and his mirror image, but quickly takes a turn for the absurd when the servant finds himself trapped in the mirror. Ayu ridicules the human ego and ambition through juxtaposition with open-mindedness. These performance videos are preceded by Mansai's introduction of each piece (with English subtitles), and will be followed by his "live" post-performance talk + Q&A (with an interpreter).

THEATER: The Dark Master

On-Site Virtual Reality Event

January 2021

Written and directed by psychiatrist-turned-director/playwright Kuro Tanino, The Dark Master is an immersive and humorously-dark experimental theater play addressing "self and other," dictatorship, and the process of total absorption in a new 'live performance' style. A young backpacker slowly becomes one with the 'Master' of a local eatery. Tanino explores unconventional presentations of theater by utilizing VR (Virtual Reality) headsets for a limited audience of 10-12 people and by combining special physical and sound effects, like the smell of a meal being cooked. The VR and physical isolation of each audience member heightens the effect of slipping into total mind control with the young backpacker and the blurred lines between self and the "Master."

Tickets & Information: For more information and to purchase tickets for performances and related events at Japan Society, visit 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).

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