It is a festival factory line here in Tokyo. Design Festa, the Tokyo International Film Festival and Japan Fashion Week are all happening this month (with reports on all of them coming from yours truly), and a unique performing arts programme called Festival/Tokyo is about to kick off, with 20-odd cutting edge productions taking place over the next two months.
The festival opens with the world premiere of Rojishiki by Yukichi Matsumoto’s innovative company Ishinha, which has possibly the best flyer for a theatre production ever (above) and promises to be a feast of seamless choreography, Balinese rhythmic chanting, symmetry and whitewashed bodies.
Since forming in the early ‘70s the company has become renowned for their site-specific outdoor roaming performances, often set in the Muroji Temple in Nara or the isolated islands of Okayama. Rojishiki is taking place in an old junior high school which will be temporarily set up like an alley (’roji’) complete with food stalls. As the ensemble has been busy making appearances around the world (including the Adelaide and Perth Festivals in Australia) this will mark their first performance in Tokyo for many years.
Other highlights in the program include the Butoh company Sankai Juku’s Unetsu which uses water, sand, light and movement, as well as several documentary/tour performances including Rimini Protokoll’s Cargo Tokyo (which takes place in the back of a moving truck with some truck drivers sharing stories about their lives) and Compartment City by Port B (which takes the audience around Nishiguchi Park in Ikebukuro to investigate, through talks and video instillations, the uniquely Japanese phenomena of private refuges within public spaces, such as the omnipresent ‘manga café’).
Woo! Here are some images from a few of Ishinha’s past productions …