Japan Society's Season Features Counterculture Masters

News   Japan Society's Season Features Counterculture Masters This season, the Japan Society presents theatre and dance innovators in the first part of its 1999-2000 season, from Sept. 29-Dec. 11. The central theme is "revolutionary counterculture of 1960s Japan," which produced many of Japan's most influential and powerful figures of contemporary art.
Kayoko Shiraishi in Gorohachi Koku.
Kayoko Shiraishi in Gorohachi Koku.

This season, the Japan Society presents theatre and dance innovators in the first part of its 1999-2000 season, from Sept. 29-Dec. 11. The central theme is "revolutionary counterculture of 1960s Japan," which produced many of Japan's most influential and powerful figures of contemporary art.

“The ‘60s was a period of revolt and renaissance in Japanese theater. Opposed to the rationality of modern culture and theatrical realism, performing artists admired the imagination and physical theatricality found in the traditions of noh and kabuki,” explained Japan Society director of performing arts Paula Lawrence.

This season marks a rare opportunity to experience the works of Juro Kara, Kayoko Shiraishi, and Kazuo Ohno, who -- some 40 years later -- continue to astound audiences worldwide.

Kicking off the season was Juro Kara's play, A Cry from the City of Virgins.

A Performance Art Mini-Festival will run Oct. 15 and 16 at 8:00 PM. This festival will be curated by Seiji Shimoda, founder of the Nippon International Festival of Performance Art. Among the artists scheduled to participate in the festival are Sho Kazakura, creator of the first happenings in Japan in the 1960s, and experimenters Mamiko Kawabata, Kazuhiro Nishijima and Smelly, each of whom creates theatre art that defies categorization. Leading Japanese actress Kayoko Shiraishi launches her first American solo tour of 100 Stories (Hyaku Monogatari) on Nov. 4-6 at 8:00 PM. Known to Western audiences for her work in Tadishi Suzuki’s SCOT company and her appearance in Julie Taymor's film, "Oedipus Rex," Shiraishi reinterprets three Japanese ghost stories by popular writers. Later, Shiraishi will take her one-woman show to SUNY Stonybrook (NY), The Wexner Center (Columbus, OH) and Brigham Young University (Provo, UT). A lecture at 6:30 PM (free to ticket holders) by theater critic Kazuko Matsuoka, will focus on Shiraishi's influence on contemporary Japanese theater.

Shiraishi's work can be seen Nov. 8 at 6:30 PM, when the Society presents the American premiere of the film "In Search of a Lost Writer: Wandering in the Seventh World." Here, Shiraishi portrays Midori Ozaki, a celebrated writer rediscovered in 1969 after years of obscurity.

The season closes with 93-year-old seminal artist, Kazuo Ohno. Ohno performs Dec. 9-11 at 8:00 PM, in Requiem for the 20th Century. This program features a new film on Ohno’s career and performances by Ohno and his son, Yoshito Ohno. One of the most famous artists to emerge from the revolutions of the 1960s, Ohno was a founder of a new school of dance described as ankoko butoh (dance of darkness).

The Japan Society's fall 1999 program is presented in conjunction with “1960s Japan: Legacies of the Counterculture Generation."

Throughout the season, the Society says, lectures, panel discussions and dialogues with artists further illuminate the complex social, political, and cultural background of Japan's 1960s "underground," drawing attention to a period of immense turmoil and creativity in postwar Japanese history -- one Americans know little about.

The Japan Society is located at 333 E. 47th Street between First and Second Avenues. Tickets are available by calling the Society Box Office, (212) 752-3015. For information call (212) 832-1155 or visit website: http:\\.www.japansociety.org.

-- By Murdoch McBride