World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018

Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will hold its annual World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018 from April 28 to May 6, coinciding as usual with the national Golden Week holiday. In line with its slogan of “Fujinokuni (The Mt. Fuji region) and the world are connected through the performing arts,” SPAC will introduce a wide range of cutting-edge theatre programs from Japan and abroad at venues in Shizuoka City and the surrounding, wonderfully scenic area. Following on last year’s success, SPAC will also host its Open-air Performing Arts Festival under Mt. Fuji 2018 in the city’s central Sumpujo Park during the same period. In addition, this festival also features STRANGE SEED, comprising a wide range of fringe arts events being held around the city in cooperation with Shizuoka City’s major Town Becomes Theatre Project. Meanwhile, in the popular nedoco Project for Everyone, guest accommodation facilities run by volunteers will again be open during the festival period. In a nutshell, SPAC aims to present a joyous and inspiring World Theatre Festival Shizuoka festival that remains deeply rooted in its home region of Shizuoka while also connecting to the wider world through theatre.

What is SPAC?

Shizuoka Performing Arts Center SPAC was founded in 1995 by the Shizuoka prefectural government and commenced its full-fledged activities in 1997 under the direction of SUZUKI Tadashi, its first General Artistic Director. As a pioneer of publicly funded performing-arts organizations in Japan, SPAC retains its own staff of actors, technical, and production staff, who are based at its own venues and facilities. The mission of SPAC is not only to create original pieces, but also to invite progressive artistic companies and creators to Shizuoka and to develop human resources seeking expression through the performing arts.

Program of shows

MIYAGI Satoshi was appointed as the General Artistic Director in April 2007 and has led SPAC in a buoyant new phase of development and expansion.

 “The artists involved in World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018 don’t operate in a vacuum of their own making, but take great pains to present their works for their audiences’ benefit…

…For seven days in spring, World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018 brings together artists who put their all into reaching out to audiences with their voices and performances. They are not simply promoting themselves, but making extra efforts through their works to ensure audiences are ready to hear their voices.”

New Production: Ode To Joy

Co-production by Aichi Prefectural Arts Theater & SPAC—Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

Directed by: MIYAGI Satoshi
Written by: KITAMURA So
Set design: KAMIIKE Takuya
Lighting design: KITO Ayumi
Performed by: SPAC/OKUNO Akihito, KASUGAI Ippei, TAKII Miki


A fabulous masterpiece of laid-back comedy by KITAMURA So

In this famous, iconic play set in a wasteland amid a nuclear war, a mysterious man called Yasuo appears in front of Gesaku and Kyoko, a couple who are traveling entertainers. Then, even with missiles flying overhead, the three of them are soon having absurdly philosophical conversations in Kansai dialect, performing magic tricks, and entertaining unseen others with farcical songs and dances. Written in 1979 by the Kishida Drama Award-winning playwright KITAMURA So, Ode To Joy is credited by many critics and scholars with having set the course of the “shogekijou” (small-scale theatre) movement that led the way in Japanese drama through the 1980s. Indeed, the play’s stature is such that it has been performed somewhere in the country almost constantly ever since. This time, MIYAGI Satoshi, SPAC’s artistic director, takes up the challenge of this piece and its unique use of language for the first time, with the internationally renowned artist and set designer KAMIIKE Takuya transforming SPAC’s open-air Theatre UDO in the hills above Shizuoka City into a scene of apocalyptic devastation. Yet for all its dark context, it’s the way this play appears to offer hope even in a world of gloom that’s likely ensured its popularity for all these years.

Japan premiere: An Enemy Of The People

Directed by: Thomas OSTERMEIER
Written by: Henrik IBSEN
Performed by: Christoph GAWENDA, Konrad SINGER Eva MECKBACH, Renato SCHUCH David RULAND, Moritz GOTTWALD, Thomas BADING
Production: Schaubühne, Berlin
Special Support: Goethe-Institut Tokyo


What is a social justice?

One of Europe’s most distinguished dramatists, the 49-year-old artistic director of the prestigious Schaubühne theater company in Berlin, Thomas OSTEREMEIER, has made many innovations in German theatre. This time, audiences in Shizuoka City can see some of those for themselves in OSTEREMEIER’s searingly relevant, 21st-century version of Henrik IBSEN’s An Enemy Of The People. In this classic work from 1882, the hero, Dr. Stockmann, finds out that the water in his town’s new tourist attraction, its hot-spa health resort, is polluted with bacteria. However, when he calls for the resort to be closed, he comes into conflict with many townspeople who would stand to lose money, as well as politicians and the media. Consequently, he’s forced to confront the power of the masses—right or wrong. Though the theme is serious, the play doesn’t lack wit in the way its voice of reason mirrors today’s world in which experts can find themselves derided by people happy to take a short-term view even despite dire warnings. However, in the play’s climactic scene of a town meeting, OSTERMEIER’s hero asks the audience directly to decide—so there’s no place to hide, as everyone present becomes part of the drama.

Japan premiere: Dream and Derangement

Directed by: Claude RÉGY
Written by: Georg TRAKL
French text by: Jean-Claude SCHNEIDER and Marc PETIT in “Crépuscule et déclin” (Editions Gallimard)
Performed by: Yann BOUDAUD
Produced by: Les Ateliers Contemporains—Claude RÉGY
Supported by: Institut Français
Cooperated by: Kyoto Performing Arts Center at Kyoto University of Art and Design

© Pascal VICTOR

“A farewell greeting” from the great French director, Claude RÉGY

Now aged 94 and a great treasure of French theatre, Claude RÉGY has forged a strong relationship with SPAC through his two appearances in its World Theatre Festival Shizuoka—in 2010 with his one-man play Ode Maritime based on a 1909 Portuguese poem; and in 2013 through his collaboration with SPAC actors on Interior by the Belgian Nobel laureate playwright Maurice MAETERLINCK. This time, for what he’s said will be his final work, RÉGY presents the one-man play Rêve Et Folie (Dream And Derangement) that he premiered at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, outside Paris, in 2016. Based on works by the great Austrian Expressionism poet Georg TRAKL who died, aged 27, of a cocaine overdose in 1914, the play sees a shaman-like figure appear motionless on a stage lit like dusk falling over the sea. There, in a sonorous voice, the character recites excerpts from TRAKL’s poems, which are filled with magical musicality despite their profound melancholy. In that pale light, a rare ethereal harmony is sure to be conjured between the stage and audiences in RÉGY’s favorite, cozy Ellipse theatre “DAENDO” at SPAC’s countryside base amid green hills outside the city.

Japan premiere: Richard Ⅲ—Loyalty Binds Me

Directed by: Jean LAMBERT-WILD, Lorenzo MALAGUERRA and Gérald GARUTTI
Based on: Richard III by William SHAKESPEARE
Translation and adaptation: Jean LAMBERT-WILD and Gérald GARUTTI Live electronics, synthesizers and specialization: Jean-Luc THERMINARIAS
Scenography: Stéphane BLANQUET and Jean LAMBERT-WILD
Lighting: Renaud LAGIER
Costume: Annick SERRET AMIRAT
Performed by: Laure WOLF and Jean LAMBERT-WILD
Production: Théâtre de l’Union—Centre Dramatique National du Limousin


Welcome to mystery in Grand Guignol style

Based on SHAKESPEARE’s great work, and created by the renowned enfant terrible of French theatre, Jean LAMBERT-WILD, this piece for two actors finds the playwright himself dressed as a clown in the role of Richard, desperate for the crown of England, while his compatriot Laure WOLF brilliantly acts various other characters. In addition, the contemporary artist Stéphane BLANQUET—whose warped style of drawing has many fans around the world—is in charge of the jack-in-a-box style of sets. As these gradually transform into the gorgeously colored small stage of a sleazy Grand Guignol-style theatre reveling in gore and horror—psychological games played out like childish tricks come to reveal a deep isolation behind the king’s mad behavior. Surely, however, it will be a hard-hearted audience member who’s not won over (even a bit) by one of the Bard’s most charming monsters.

SPAC’s Production: Mahabharata—Nalacharitam

Directed by: MIYAGI Satoshi
Text by: KUBOTA Azumi
Music by: Hiroko
Landscape design: KIZ Junpei
Produced by: SPAC—Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

© HIOKI Masami

The acme of SPAC’s live-music plays

At Sumpujo Park in 2015 © NAKAO Eiji

Mahabharata–Nalacharitam is renowned as a beautiful romance story blossoming like a flower on a battlefield among the many ancient Indian epics better known for their fierce rivalries. In his unique, acclaimed adaptation of this tale in a production that earned standing ovations and splendid reviews at the prestigious Festival d’Avignon in southern France in 2014, MIYAGI Satoshi, SPAC’s general artistic director, reimagined it set amid the great flourishing of the arts in the Heian Period in Japan (794–1185). Then, drawing on the wonderful “emakimono” horizontal picture-scroll narratives of the 11th–16th centuries, he sensationally showed gods and humans interacting in a moving panorama around the audience, with live music and speakers voicing the actors’ lines in a festive blend of three elements. Now, this production is set to be one of the highlights of World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018, when it’s again presented in the city-center Sumpujo Park where it famously played to sell-out audiences three years ago. After that, the show moves to Paris, where it will be staged in autumn at the La Villette Theater as part of a major Japan Foundation arts event titled Japonismes 2018.

Japan premiere: Simulacrum


Directed and choreographed by: Alan LUCIEN ØYEN
Kabuki choreography and Music: “Natsue:” FUJIMA Kanjuro
Performed and choreographed by: KOJIMA Shoji, Daniel PROIETTO
Produced by: Winter Guests
Under: the auspices of Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo

© Martin FLACK

A collaboration bridging continents in dance

This joint creation of the remarkable 78-year-old flamenco dancer KOJIMA Shoji and the world-famous young Argentinian-born contemporary dancer-choreographer Daniel PROIETTO includes elements of flamenco, contemporary and also Kabuki-style dance. While it traces the quite different artistic roots of both these performers, it’s clear that this piece, directed here by the famed Norwegian writer, director and choreographer Alan LUCIEN ØYEN—whose latest work will be staged in June by Germany’s prestigious Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina BAUSCH—is also groping for truths underlying all dance. In its search that also questions audiences about their identities and memories, the fascinating work promises to be a memorable experience—and not just for the wonderful chance to witness KOJIMA’s charismatic performance on an aesthetic stage of tranquil beauty and colorful light.

Japan premiere: Jack Charles V The Crown

Directed by: Rachael MAZA
Co-Writers: Jack CHARLES, John ROMERIL
Musical director: Nigel MACLEAN
Performed by: Jack CHARLES
Music: Nigel MACLEAN(Guitar/Violin) Phil COLLINGS (Percussion), Malcolm BEVERIDGE (Bass)
Produced by: ILBIJERRI Theatre Company
With the support of: the Australian Embassy
Sponsor: Australia

© Bindi COLE

A one-man performance by Jack CHARLES, a 74-year-old Australian Aboriginal elder who presents his and his people’s case in the context of a legal battle with the court system itself.

As this piece explains in narration and song, Australia’s indigenous people have been treated inhumanely since Europeans arrived in 1788, and the situation is only now starting to improve. Under the government’s “forced removals” program from 1869–1969, for instance, their children—including Jack CHARLES—were literally ripped from their mothers’ arms as infants and taken away, generally to white-run institutions such as the boys’ home where he grew up enduring years of abuse. In this touching, yet sometimes hilarious autobiographical work he co-wrote, this member of Australia’s so-called Stolen Generations looks back over his life as a drug addict, repeat petty criminal, actor, musician and potter. As he tells the tale here, after the success of Bastardy, a 2008 documentary spanning seven years of his life that was shown on national TV in Australia, he suddenly attracted lots of media attention, and before long, he went to court to appeal for legal remedies to wipe away his criminal record after many blameless years in which he’d left his negative lifestyle behind. So, it’s as a survivor full of life energy, that Jack’s spoken performance is sure to touch many people’s hearts as his powerful words carry with them such hope and happiness despite his harsh experience. Now Jack Charles V The Crown, which also features live music, is set to make an unforgettable impact here on its Japan debut, just as it has in many other countries since its 2010 premiere.

Japan premiere: The Only Thing A Great Actress Needs, Is A Great Work And The Will To Succeed

Direction and co-writers: Damian CERVANTES
Performed by: Diana Magallon GARCIA, Mari CARMEN RUIZ
Produced by: VACA35
Supported by: National Fund for Culture and the Arts

© Paura PRIETO

Can plays satisfy people’s hunger?

A chubby actress and a skinny one play a madam-and-maid game together in a small space built in the 1960s on a main shopping street in central Shizuoka City. Yet even as the performance recalls 1947’s The Maids, the sadomasochistic masterpiece by French dramatist Jean GENET (1910–1986), the harsh reality of the two women’s poverty and social isolation is also revealed in glimpses. The result is a remarkable, layered piece that’s sure to leave many audience members in awe of live theatre’s power to transport them to realms of make-believe, while also conveying a shared reality.

Other Exciting Events

In addition to the amazing shows that will be performed at World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018, there will be other events that will also be sure to showcase theatre’s “impact on the world.”

Opening Cedemony, tea-picking in Shizuoka Performing Arts Park, Festival bar, and Festival garden

What is the performing art that makes an impact in the world?

At an open-air symposium being held in the city-center Sumpujo Park as part of the festival, SPAC’s General Artistic Director MIYAGI Satoshi, along with various artists and theatre experts, will hold a discussion about the performing arts in Japan and the world.

Shizuoka Street Theatre Festival “STRANGE SEED”

Performed By: mamagoto (Tokyo) / Syounen Oujakan (Nagoya) / DAZZLE (Tokyo) / iaku (Tokyo/Osaka) off-Nibroll (Tokyo/Osaka) / Theater Company Kodomokyojin (Tokyo) Masako Yasumoto + Tenniscoats (Kyoto, Tokyo) / Short-range Man Road Missile (Sendai) ICHIGEKIYA (Osaka) / Kitamari x Aokid (Kyoto, Tokyo) / fushigishonen (Kumamoto)
Concept director of STRANGE SEED: KOUGA Masaaki
Program director: Worry KINOSHITA
Project office: Shizuoka Arts Supporting Organization, WATANABE Akifumi (leader).
Organized by: Shizuoka City
Co-organized by SPAC–Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

STRANGE SEED 2017, at Shizuoka City Hall

With its multi-genre attractions spanning theatre, dance and street artists, the STRANGE SEED project will see the whole of central Shizuoka transform into a stunning performance area that will form the vibrant backdrop for this year’s World Theatre Festival Shizuoka. Thanks to colorful and original events in Sumpujo Park and on the streets, the project will ensure that performing arts become part of residents’ and visitors’ daily lives alike—and will also allow everyone to discover a new Shizuoka for themselves in the process.

More details:

For more information on the Festival:

Press release translation: Nobuko Tanaka


This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by The Theatre Times.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.