Monday, January 04, 2010

Imagining The Nation

This from Jo Kukathas who urges you to sign up quickly if you are interested as places are very limited :
Imagining the Nation: A Play-writing Workshop with Sakate Yoji

Epitaph For The Whales/ Breathless/The Attic - the plays of Sakate Yoji


Most of Mr. Sakate's works are based on real political history and events and social issues in Japan - the rise of garbage, the rise of Japanese cults, and the phenomenon of "hikikomori," or the "withdrawal" of people into their homes - young people who refuse to come out and engage with society. He focuses on how myths - national, traditional and social - lead people to believe in false realities. He writes plays that lay bare a more bizarre reality. He has created and directed several masterpieces in theatre by introducing his own particular method of documentary writing, myth-making.

At the same time, his plays are inspired by the dramaturgy of traditional Japanese Noh theatre, established by Zeeami. He structures social issues as well as mythological visions of Japanese people - these two strands run parallel in his plays and are based on his unique dramaturgy inspired by Noh.


This two day workshop will focus on Mr Sakate's play-writing technique and style. Participants are required to attend his talk on Jan 8 where Sakate will introduce his work and Matsui Kentaro will give a talk about Japanese theatre.


Jan 8 830pm

IMAGINING THE NATION: A history of Japanese theatre - Continuity and Discontinuity

A talk by MATSUI KENTARO producer and dramaturg and Director of The Asia Centre for Creation and Research, Tokyo on the history of Japanese theatre from noh to the present day.

"Imagining the Nation is based on the idea that language is a means for the making the notion of the “nation state”. From the perspective of theatre as the art of language, the theatre has to have its own particular function to be able to develop the notion of “nation” and “nation state” through making and presenting plays. It doesn't only mean using languages for writing plays - rather theatre has its own theatrical language with spaces, acting, directing, musical elements and so on. These theatrical languages have been influential to people to get the images of 'nation'."

NARRATING THE NATION: The Plays of Sakate Yoji - Epitaph For The Whales/ Breathless/The Attic

A presentation by Sakate Yoji playwright/ director of theatre company RIN KO GUN and President of the Playwrights Association of Japan who shares his body of work and talks about the contemporary theatre movement in Japan.


Jan 9 1030am - 3pm

An introduction to the work of Sakate Yoji - political realism, documentary and mythology in a single play. The parallel worlds of Sakate Yoji's plays.


Jan 10 1030am - 3pm

A more in-depth look at the marriage of style, technique and content.

(Closed event. Participants must register first. Please e mail to register)

WORKSHOP FEE:: RM80 inclusive of lunch



Is the NATION a FICTION or a REALITY? And who creates the NATION?

Who creates the fiction of a nation? Who dreams these things up? Who dreams up a One Malaysia or a Rising Sun? Of a Vision 2020 or A Malaysia Truly Asia?

Theatre is one place where alternative realities of a country are imagined and therefore created. It is a country of Gold Rain and Hailstones. A Country which dreams of Atomic Jaya. A Country where the Death of a Patriot is not the death of a Patriot and where you cannot **** Mr Birch. It is Brickfields, The Sandpit and Bolehwood, a place where Pak Dogol, Tok Perak, Athan and Ang Tau Mui live out their lives in the margins of the main narrative.

In this Exchange between Malaysian and Japanese speakers we ask how theatre can and should create strong alternative fictions to any fiction of One-ness.




Was born in 1962, in Okayama. He grew up in the region before went to Tokyo to study Japanese literature at Keio University. In 1981, he became a member of Transposition 21 Theatre Company while he was still a university student.

Transposition 21 was led by YAMAZAKI Tetsu, who was born in 1947, a playwright and director. YAMAZAKI is one of the leading figures of the second generation of the little theatre movement (shogekijo undo) or post-shingeki movement which began in 1960s. This is the theatre which SAKATE first came across and which influenced him.

In 1983, SAKATE formed a new theatre group, the Theatre Company RINKOGUN with himself as leader, playwright and director. He is politically active and his plays, like YAMAZAKI’s, have strong views on contemporary political and social issue in Japan. RINKOGUN’s productions are the result of an innovative collaboration among its residential artists including the stage and lighting designers.

SAKATE has achieved his first major breakthrough with two plays, The Tokyo Trial and A Dangerous Story, which he wrote in 1988. Both plays are about the injustices of the legal system. He wrote a play about lesbians, Come Out in 1989, and Breathless in 1991. Breathless, which discusses the problem of the garbage in Tokyo and the religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo (threatened the Japanese nation with their poison gas murder of Tokyo subway commuters in 1995), had received the Thirty-fifth Kishida Drama Award.

SAKATE wrote Epitaph of the Whales and The Capital of the Kingdom of the Gods in 1993. He continues his experiments in the use of noh in Capital of the Kingdom of the Gods. The play is about Lafcadio Hearn, a writer who came to Japan at the end of 19th century. The production toured in Europe and U.S.A in 1994, 1995 and 1998 to great acclaim. The Boiling Point of the Sea (Umi no futten) in 1997 discusses the situation of the land and the people of Okinawa, Japan’s most southern and newest prefecture.

In 2001, the group traveled to Berlin, Leipzig, Krakow, and Warsaw with their production of Breathless. The company has also created work in collaboration with theatre artists from abroad. Whalers in the South Seas, a work produced in 2000 is created with actors from Indonesia, Philippines and U.S.A.. The company's acclaimed production of The Attic was appeared in Pittsburgh, Miami, Los Angeles and New York in February 2005.

- Winner, 7th Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Direction - The Emperor and The Kiss (Tenno to Seppun)

- Nominee, 7th Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Production, RINKOGUN - The Emperor and The Kiss

- Winner, 10th Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Direction, Yoji Sakate - The Attic (Yaneura), Until the Last Person Standing (Saigo no Hitori Made ga Zentai de Aru), Charlie Victor Romeo, Abe Sada and Mutsuo (Abe Sada to Mutsuo)

- Winner, 54th Yomiuri Literature Prize (Drama), Yoji Sakate - The Attic (Yaneura)

- Winner, 37th Kinokuniya Theater Award for Individual Achievement, Yoji Sakate - The Attic (Yaneura), Until the Last Person Standing and Blind Touch (produced by Theatre group EN)

- Nominee, 10th Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Production, RINKOGUN - Until the Last Person Standing (Saigo no Hitori Made ga Zentai de Aru)


Mr Matsui set up the Asia Centre For Creation and Research to help develop Exchanges between Asian countries. His long-term goal is to facilitate intellectual and creative exchange between Asian producers, researchers and artists. He has worked extensively with Asian theatre people often in collaboration with the Japan Foundation. He was the producer of the Malaysian Japanese collaboration The Island In Between/Pulau Antara written by Jo Kukathas and Kam Raslan. He created and facilitated a 3 year Asian collaboration project with participants from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. The Malaysian participants, Jo Kukathas (Instant Café), Loh Kok Man (Pentas Projects) and Nam Ron (Rumah Anak Theatre RAT) continue to collaborate in Malaysia. Mr Matsui wants to build on the strong connections made in previous collaborations and deepen the exchanges on a intellectual and research level.

Jo Kukathas
The Instant

No 6 Jalan 6/3
Petaling Jaya 46000
(+6) 03- 77848792
(+6) 0163582035

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