Upcoming Japanese theatre in London

There are a number of interesting Japanese or Japanese-related productions coming up in theatres in London over the next couple of months. Here’s a sneak preview…

10th May: ‘KUGUTSU’ – An Evening Of Japanese Puppetry
Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, Cross Street, London, N1 2DN

Direct from Japan to attend Mr Punch’s 350th birthday celebrations, two masters of ‘Kugutsu’ – ITO SHIRO & KATAMI EIMEI – drop by Little Angel Theatre to present an evening of three short plays including ‘Snow White’ and Japanese-style ‘Punch & Judy’.

One of the earliest forms of hand puppetry, ‘Kugutsu’ was first seen on the street corners of Kyoto in the 7th century, the puppeteers – or ‘Kugutsu-shi’ – performing from a waist-high box suspended from their necks by a cord.

The evening is part of The Big Grin Festival and will be hosted by YORIKO IWATA.

Presented as part of the 350th Birthday Celebrations of Punch by The Big Grin. www.thebiggrin350.com

Image © Tsukasa Aoki

21st & 22nd May: Coriolanus by Chiten
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT

This renowned company from Kyoto works under the direction of one of Japan’s most imaginative artists, Motoi Miura. Known for its minimalist vision, this company produces an expressive theatre rooted in the exploration of words, sound and the human body. Celebrated for their work on Chekhov, which has proved highly successful in Russia, they are now bringing their vision of Shakespeare to England for the first time.

Part of the Globe to Globe festival which showcases 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages. The festival runs until 9th June.

29th May – 2nd June: Cymbeline by Ninagawa Company

Internationally renowned for his visually powerful adaptations of Shakespeare, legendary director Yukio Ninagawa returns to the Barbican with his eagerly-awaited production of Shakespeare’s romance tragedy, Cymbeline.

Full of sexual jealousy, tension, intrigue and magic, the play follows Princess Imogen, who has secretly married the lowly Posthumus for love. When the secret is out, she incurs the wrath of her father King Cymbeline, and becomes the target of the dangerous schemings of her evil stepmother.

Ninagawa’s previous directorial credits at the Barbican include Musashi, Hamlet, Coriolanus and a Kabuki Twelfth Night. Cymbeline is part of the World Shakespeare Festival, which is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company for London 2012 Festival.

Directed by Yukio Ninagawa
Cast includes: Hiroshi Abe and Shinobu Otake

15th – 16th June: Little Sunshine, Little Rainfall by A Thousand Cranes
artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, London, N12 0GA

Little Sunshine and Little Rainfall invite you to their magic garden. But trouble is afoot for the two gardeners when naughty Storm Fox comes to visit…

Blending four stories of the Japanese fox with the four seasons and inspired by Haiku, Origami and Japanese folklore, this delightful production uses traditional storytelling, songs and dance and is brought to you by the same creative team as the highly successful Paper Washi Wish.

I’ve also heard rumours about other interesting productions coming up in the second half of the year. As soon as details are confirmed I’ll let you know!

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