The Japan Foundation, New York
On September 29, the Japan Foundation-New York in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) presented a staged-reading event of Japanese contemporary plays under the title "Spotlight Japan."Three plays written by some of the most acclaimed playwrights in Japan, Masataka Matsuda's Auto-da-Fe, Toshiki Okada's Enjoy and Mikuni Yanaihara's The Blue Bird were translated into English by the theater professionals of Japan and the U.S., and excerpts from these plays were read on stage by members of three of the most cutting-edge theater companies based in New York.
The Japanese playwrights were invited to New York to witness the readings as well as to attend a public discussion with the American directors.Each of the works presented had its own appeal; one of the directors tried to follow an approach that is true to the original as much as possible, while the others tried to interpret the translated texts in a creative way.During the Q&A session, one woman in the audience asked the American directors and Japanese playwrights whether they feel cultural difference is something that still needs to be filled.The response, seemingly agreed amongst the group, was that although there is a feeling that everyone on the planet is connected by the development of the internet, cultural differences will never disappear and that they, as artists, need to create something new in hopes of filling the spaces that exist among different cultures.
Compared to dance and music, theater is a genre that is difficult to introduce to overseas audiences due to language differences.However, the Japan Foundation-New York will continue to create a forum where Japanese and American theater professionals can meet and exchange ideas so that Japanese plays are introduced to American audiences.On November 19, At the Entrance of New Town, written by Akio Miyazawa, will be presented at CUNY under the direction of Jay Scheib.