Hideo Tsuchida's Modern Japanese Play Steel Tower Makes U.S. Debut

News   Hideo Tsuchida's Modern Japanese Play Steel Tower Makes U.S. Debut
Three troupes are collaborating to bring a modern Japanese play to life on the New York stage.

Theatre Arts Japan, woken'glacier theatre company and MONO theatre company present the March 2-18 U.S. premiere of Hideo Tsuchida's award-winning play it is said the men are over in The Steel Tower, translated by M. Cody Poulton and adapted by Matthew Paul Olmos.

Ronit Muszkatblit directs the staging, to play the TBG Theater on 36th Street in Manhattan. Opening is March 3.

The play's original English title is The Happy Lads. It's billed this way: "On the front lines of a war, four members of a vaudeville troupe seek refuge in a steel tower, where they meet a runaway soldier. With gunfire all around them, they do their best to keep their humanity as well as create a new comedy routine. it is said the men are over in The Steel Tower takes a humorous look at the nature of conflict, rules versus freedom and the ability to create our own ray of sunlight in the face of darkness."

The cast includes Gili Getz, Christopher Loar, Moti Margolin, Josh Peters and Andy Schneeflock.

The creative team includes set designer Tomoyuki Ikeda, sound designer Udi Pladott, costume designer Bianca Toscano, lighting designer Rie Ono, choreographer Lisa Giobbi, clown movement specialist Mark Mitton and production stage manager Kanako Morita. The production is a collaborative Japanese-American theatrical cultural exchange project presented by Theatre Arts Japan, which is dedicated to the staging of modern Japanese theatre in the U.S.; the experimental woken'glacier theatre company in New York; and the MONO theatre company in Japan.

This unique production is the culmination of an 18-month process, which included being part of a Japanese play reading series from which it was selected. The adaptation and development of the play for its U.S. debut followed, as did a workshop with Kyoto-based playwright Hideo Tsuchida.

Artists from Japan and the U.S. worked together for 18 months to develop this play and adapt it for the American audience. The project was initiated by Theatre Arts Japan.

As part of the exchange project, Japan's most prominent set designer, Tomoyuki Ikeda, was invited to create the sets for it is said the men are over in The Steel Tower. Ikeda was awarded the 2006 Kisaku Ito Award, Japan's top honor for stage design.

Playwright Hideo Tsuchida formed the troupe B Kyu Practice (now MONO) in 1989. He has handled all of the troupe's writing and directing since 1990. His entertainment spectacle style is much in demand for commercial theatres such as Bungakuza and Seinenza. Tsuchida specializes in situation comedies on the theme of universal human sadness. He received the OMS Drama Award for it is said the men are over in The Steel Tower.

In Israel, director Ronit Muszkatblit worked for Multi Media Inc. and Isaac Productions, for which she produced the performances of the English Royal Ballet, the Vienna Opera Ballet and the Bands Garbage and K's Choice on their Israel tour. She received her MFA in directing from the Actor's Studio Drama School. She joined post theatre in 2001, and produced 301/302 in Stuttgart and Berlin. Her work was last featured during the Actor's Studio Repertory season where she directed six plays, among them Heiner Muller's Quartet, and Eduardo Machado's Fabiola.

Adapter Matthew Paul Olmos received his B.A. in playwriting from UC-Santa Barbara, where he received a Corwin Award for Best Full-Length Play, The Tragedy of Catalina's Lover. He then attended UCLA's School of Film, Theatre and Radio where he was given the GOP Award for Graduate Playwriting. Finally, he earned his MFA in Playwriting from The Actor's Studio Drama School. As a playwright, he has been produced several times in Santa Barbara and was part of the THAW festival at HERE in NYC. His children's play, Cinch Amigos, was produced at College de St. Augustinos in Spain. He is both a founder and the artistic director of woken' glacier theatre company.

TBG Theater is at 312 W. 36th St., 3rd Floor. For more information contacct www.smarttix.com or call (212) 868-4444 or visit www.TheatreArtsJapan.org.


According to Theatre Arts Japan notes, "Currently there are more than 3,000 theatre companies performing in Japan. While there are occasional Japanese performances in the United States, most are short term. By translating and producing Japanese plays in the United States, Theatre Arts Japan hopes to introduce modern Japanese theatre, culture and points of view to American audiences. Our aim is that with enough exposure these modern Japanese plays will break into the theatre of America, not to be seen as only Japanese theatre, but as theatre in itself. Thus, we endeavor to further the colors of the already multicultural theatre of the U.S., and fully create a true collaboration between Japanese and American theatre cultures."

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