September 28-29, 2023
Created and performed by Paul Lazar
Discover Cage Shuffle, the critically acclaimed 50-minute spoken-word solo work featuring a randomly determined set of texts taken from John Cage's 1963 "score," Indeterminacy. In this captivating performance, the beloved New York performer Paul Lazar brings dozens of Cage’s personal anecdotes to life, following the composer's notated instructions to present each aloud in exactly one minute. Through a mesmerizing blend of spoken word and meticulously choreographed by Tony Award-winner Annie-B Parson, audiences are treated to a thrilling experience where text and motion intertwine, creating connections that amuse and provoke contemplation. This production has wowed audiences worldwide since its 2017 premiere in New York. For this one-of-a-kind John Cage's Japan commissioned program, Lazar has packed the overall deck of roughly 200 pieces with handpicked Cage commentary on Japanese themes, Zen philosophy and reminiscences as well as quotes from Cage's noteworthy friends and contemporaries, including D.T. Suzuki, Isamu Noguchi and Hidekazu Yoshida.
October 21, 2023
Composed by John Cage
Directed by Tomomi Adachi
Performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, with Hitomi Nakamura and Maki Ota
Inspired by the Zen rock garden of the renowned Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, which John Cage personally visited in 1962, he composed Ryoanji (1983) using a non-ordinal graphical notation. Embracing Cage's free-spirited approach to the score, composer/musician and vocal performer Tomomi Adachi brings this composition to life in a cutting-edge concert that connects two cities remotely. New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble will perform alongside musicians playing live in Japan—Hitomi Nakamura on the ancient hichiriki woodwind and Maki Ota on vocals—at a tea house in Kanazawa City, Japan. Immerse yourself in the hypnotic interactive 3D visuals depicting the raked sand of the Zen garden that have been created by Dr. Tsutomu Fujinami, a researcher at the prestigious Japan Advanced Institute for Science and Technology, as a captivating backdrop for this one-of-a-kind concert. A lecture on the origins of Cage's fascination with Japanese culture and how those interests manifest in Ryoanji, led by John Cage scholar James Pritchett, precedes the performance.
Noh-opera / Noh-tation – Decoding John Cage’s Unrealized Project
November 16, 2023
Composed by Tomomi Adachi
Performed by Gelsey Bell, Wakako Matsuda and Adachi Tomomi, with the International Contemporary Ensemble
In response to John Cage's unrealized project, Noh-opera: Or the Complete Musical Works of Marcel Duchamp, which he envisioned to premiere in Japan, Tomomi Adachi seamlessly integrates the captivating aspects of opera and noh and uses AI to compose music and lyrics from koan—short Zen Buddhist riddles. This unique audacious composition fuses together the distinct vocal styles of Gelsey Bell, recognized as the “future of experimental vocalism” by The New York Times, and traditional noh actor Wakako Matsuda's singing, with five wind instruments performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble.
Cage Shock: Homage to his First Japan Visit
December 7, 2023
Curated by Tomomi Adachi
Performed by Tania Caroline Chen, Victoria Shen and Adachi Tomomi, with the International Contemporary Ensemble
In collaboration with experimental sound artists Tania Caroline Chen and Victoria Shen, Tomomi Adachi recreates the essence of John Cage's historic visit to Japan in 1962, often referred to as "Cage Shock." Through renditions of Cage's iconic pieces, such as Haiku, Aria, Solo for Piano with Fontana Mix and 0'00", Adachi captures the spirit of that transformative tour. A string quartet of musicians from the International Contemporary Ensemble join Chen, Shen and Adachi in performing Sapporo (1962) by Toshi Ichiyanagi (1933-2022), the esteemed Japanese composer and first husband of Yoko Ono. Ichiyanagi developed a close friendship with Cage during his 1950s residency in New York City and played a pivotal role in organizing Cage's inaugural trip to Japan, with visits to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and the city of Sapporo. A lecture to provide background of the pieces on the program and explain how radical they would have seemed at the time in Japan, led by John Cage scholar James Pritchett, precedes the performance.
Hamlet | Toilet
January 10-13, 2024
Written and directed by Yu Murai
Performed by Theater Company Kaimaku Pennant Race
Get ready for a night of laughs and literary mashups as Theater Company Kaimaku Pennant Race (KPR) returns to Japan Society with its latest production, Hamlet | Toilet. Led by the acclaimed playwright and director Yu Murai, KPR has become renowned for its nonsensical yet profound style that seamlessly weaves Japanese pop culture into reimagined scenes from Shakespearean plays. KPR’s Romeo & Toilet blew audiences away in 2009 at the New York International Fringe Festival and the company’s Rocky Macbeth turned the Society’s stage into a boxing ring in 2019. Now, in a Japan Society-produced North American Tour, KPR is set to debut their version of Shakespeare’s renowned play. Part of the 2024 Under the Radar Festival. *Performed in Japanese with English surtitles.
The Good-Story Murders
Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation
March 18, 2024
Written by Aya Takaha
Directed by Tai Thompson
Written by playwright and fantasy/sci-fi anime script writer Aya Takaha, The Good-Story Murders takes place in a future Japan where people inexplicably begin to perish during middle age. To memorialize their brief lives, a new profession called Good Story writers has cropped up, in which a writer will concoct a dramatic death to be realized by a flash mob of performers. One of the most famous Good Story writers, whose esteemed client list includes politicians and even the prime minister of Japan, enlists the help of a homeless person to succeed her. Takaha joins in a post-show Q&A with the audience and Miami-born, NYC-based director Tai Thompson, who will stage this English play reading with a cast of local actors.
Nihon Buyo in the 21st Century: from Kabuki Dance to Boléro
January 24-26, 2024
Featuring Hanayagi Motoi, Azuma Tokuyo and Hanayagi Genkuro
Witness a breathtaking union of Japan's most talented nihon buyo dancers, featuring the esteemed Hanayagi Motoi and rising young star Azuma Tokuyo (also known as Nakamura Kazutaro in kabuki theater). Nihon buyo, literally meaning "Japanese dance," encompasses an animated style that draws from traditional kabuki dance techniques. The program begins with Toba-e, a kabuki dance accompanied by live music, which depicts a comical manga story from the Edo period. The second half of the program is a piece set to Maurice Ravel’s famous score, Boléro. Expertly choreographed by Hanayagi Gekuro, this unexpected combination of East and West brilliantly retells a classical Japanese folk tale, with Azuma showcasing his exceptional talent in the onnagata (female) role of a heartbroken princess, Kiyohime. *Performed in Japanese with English surtitles.
Beyond Ballet, Beyond Hip-Hop
North American Premiere Double Bill
May 10-11, 2024
Featuring Toshiki Okada, Hana Sakai and MWMW
In The Dying Swan & Its Cause of Death, one of Japan's leading prima ballerinas, Hana Sakai, performs her graceful dance of the timeless Western classic ballet to Saint-Saëns' famous music, accompanied by Udai Shika on cello. Immediately after, Sakai begins trudging, wobbling and speaking aloud about why she, the swan, had to die—in a hilarious take by visionary director/playwright Toshiki Okada that delves into environmental issues. Encounter, performed by the all-woman dance group MWMW, led by Moto Takahashi completes this double bill, as they challenge gender norms with their stunning hip-hop techniques and ensemble movements. These pieces represent genre-defying works that are breaking new ground in Japan’s dance scene. *Performed in Japanese with English surtitles.
COVID-19 Safety Information
Masks are optional but encouraged.
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