Japan Society Presents 9000 PAPER BALLOONS Next Month

Performances run Friday, October 28 – Sunday, October 30.

By: Sep. 29, 2022
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Japan Society presents the U.S. premiere of 9000 Paper Balloons, co-created by Maiko Kikuchi and Spencer Lott, and directed by Brooklyn-based theater-maker Aya Ogawa. Inspired by Imperial Japan's stranger-than-fiction secret weapons that floated over America during World War II, 9000 Paper Balloons is a poetic and eerie puppet theater performance that examines distance - the distance between two friends, between two enemies, two cultures and two generations. New York-based Japanese artist Maiko Kikuchi and American puppeteer Spencer Lott blend puppetry, animation, diorama and masks as they weave their own family histories into a surreal and visually stunning collage that speaks to the past and the future. 9000 Paper Balloons will have three performances only, Friday, October 28 - Sunday October 30 at Japan Society (333 East 47th Street).

Inspired by seldom known and rarely discussed real-life events, this performance aims to collapse the distance between four characters. In this autobiographical bilingual play, Japanese visual artist Maiko Kikuchi and American puppeteer Spencer Lott each portray themselves as well as their grandfathers. Accompanied by highly stylized visuals, the personal histories of two families, one Japanese and one American, frame the trajectory of one paper balloon bomb. In this play, audiences witness the fabrication of the balloon in Japan, and its journey across the Pacific Ocean. The balloon survives violent storms and sails over trees along the pacific coast only to crash in the forest outside of a small Oregon town, where an American boy discovers it, to tragic consequences. Kikuchi and Lott create a magical space to reconcile a complicated past and together look to the future. A live in-person Q&A with Kikuchi and Lott takes place following the performance on October 29.

"Distance is definitely a central theme to the play, the distance between our generation and our grandfathers, the difference between America and Japan, the distance between a fighter jet and a paper balloon," reflects co-creator Spencer Lott. "We know that war capitalizes on that distance, both real and perceived. War is a throughline in our play, but our central question is how can we collapse the distance between us? We are witnessing moments in 2022 that remind us that the distance between our generation and the WWII generation may not be all that distant after all."

Japan Society is excited to present the U.S. live performance premiere, following the successful, extended online run of 9000 Paper Balloons in fall 2021, presented by HERE, as part of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP), which commissions and develops new hybrid works over a two-to-three year period.