"Why We Work With The Community" Artist Talk by Visiting Japanese Artists

Theatre buffs will have plenty more reasons to make the trip up north for the 2014 George Town Festival with legendary thespian Mansai Nomura booked for a double bill at MPPP Town Hall.

The doyen of Japanese performing arts will impart his invaluable knowledge in a collaborative workshop with the Nanning Cantonese Opera Troupe on 22 August before taking to the stage to perform two popular tales from the Mansaku-no-Kai Ky?gen Company repertoire.

In “The Owl”, a man discovers his brother has been possessed by the spirit of the titular bird after a mysterious trip to the mountains. “Tied to a Stick” meanwhile recounts the hilarious exploits of a master in his attempt to punish his insubordinate servants. Both best exemplify Ky?gen, a type of medieval Japanese comedy dating back to the 14th century.

Mansai is the latest addition to the Asian Traditional Theatre Series, a month-long celebration of the region’s diverse range of classical dramas. Mansai is one of three big names in the eclectic lineup of acts.

The Joe Louis Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre is the sole authority on the art form invented by Krae Saptawanit in 1901. After a hiatus of some 50 years, Sakorn Yangkhiawsod revived hun lakorn lek (small puppets) in 1995 and ensured its survival by passing down the techniques to his nine children before his death in 2007. The group has since struck gold twice at the World Festival of Puppet Art in Prague.

The Nanning Cantonese Opera Troupe is known for its interpretations of traditional classical Chinese opera, a form which dates back to the third century, and for its performances of new works in the classical style.

Jointly presented by the George Town Festival and Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, the project is part of ongoing efforts by the Japan Foundation Asia Center to enhance intercultural exchanges between Southeast Asian countries in the years leading up the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Malaysia will be familiar ground to Mansai. In 2012, he weaved his magic in front of a sold-out crowd at the Malaysia Tourism Centre in Kuala Lumpur. He will be joined in Penang this year by a four-member ensemble of rising stars in the Ky?gen scene.

Date & Time: 22nd August, 7:30pm
Venue: MPPP Town Hall (location)
Participation: Free
George Town Festival Secretariat
TEL: +604 261 6308
ADD: 1st Floor, 86 Lebuh Armenian, George Town.
Date & Time: 23rd August, 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Venue: MPPP Town Hall (location)
Admission: RM 20 – RM 60
Ticket Purchase:
2. Rock Corner and Victoria Music outlets
3. Tune Store, Low Yat Plaza

F-224Fukuro YamabushiThe Owl (20 min)
A man is concerned about his younger brother Taro because he has been acting strangely since returning from an excursion in the mountains two or three days ago. The

Two established Japanese artists, Katsuhiko Hibino and Shirotama Hitsujiya, share their experiences and insights of their work so far. Both have gone beyond their respective disciplines – fine art and theatre – to create art projects that deeply engage the community. They are but two of eight delegates brought to Malaysian shores by JFKL and the Japan Foundation Asia Centre as part of the “Study Tour for the Creative Networking” programme, which seeks to facilitate new connections and future collaborations.

Date & Time: 9th August 2014, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Venue: 27 and 27A, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 7, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Admission: Free

Delegate Profiles
Katsuhiko HIBINOProf. Katsuhiko HIBINO
Professor, Department of Inter-Media Art, Tokyo University of the Arts
Born in 1958, the Gifu native graduated with a MA from the Tokyo University of Arts. He creates an ecosystem for the arts to function within society by organising art projects that focus on abilities specific to certain individuals. His ongoing projects are spread across diverse fields of interest. Two such examples are the Asatte Asagao Project (Day-after-tomorrow Morning Glory Project) and Day-after-tomorrow Newspaper Cultural Department, which are still going strong after 12 years.

In the past two years, Hibino worked as artistic director of Roppongi Art Night. He most recently conducted workshops as part of the Match Flag Projects (2010-) in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Hibino currently teaches at his alma mater and serves as director of the Japan Football Association.

Director, Playwright, Actress, Founder of YUBIWA Hotel
Born in Hokkaido in 1967, the Artistic Director of YUBIWA Hotel studied at Meiji University. The company’s main body of work includes Long Distance Love (2001), which was performed at the same time in Tokyo and NY through broadband during the September 9/11 incident; Candies (2006), which toured northern Europe; Massive Water (2012), which toured four cities in Brazil; and Heavenly Love, which was performed on the beach at Setouchi Art Festival 2013 and later on a train at Ichihara Art x Mix in 2014. She was named one of “The 100 Most influential Japanese Women in the World” by Newsweek Japan in 2006.

Professor, Department of Musical Creativity and the Environment, Tokyo University of the Arts
Sumiko Kumakura studied at the prestigious Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, earned a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature and Aesthetics Science of Arts from Keio University and a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the Graduate School of Keio University. She was a director at Kigyo Mecenat Kyogikai (Association for Corporate Support of the Arts) from 1992 to 2002. In addition to community-based art projects, she is actively involved in the research and development of support for the arts by corporations and foundations. She has held her present post since 2002, where she works on such areas as Cultural Policy and Arts Management.

Shinya SATOHAssoc. Prof. Shinya SATOH
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Nihon University College of Science and Technology
Born in 1968 in Tokyo, Satoh is an architect whose output goes far beyond that of his peers in fine art, theatre and art projects. His main body of work includes conceptualisation for 1 PERSON/DAY (2008, Installation at Toride Art Project 2008), renovation of 3331 Arts Chiyoda (with Mejiro Studio, 2010), an advisory role in the creation of a map for theatrical work The Complete Manual of Evacuation – Tokyo (concept and direction by Akira Takayama, 2010), acting as a dramaturge for The House of Atreus in Sumida-ku, Toshima-ku, Miyake Island and Awaji Island (concept and direction by Kaku Nagashima, 2010-2013), and being a member of Tsukuri-kata Funk Band for the theatrical project Yotsuya Kaidan + Yotsuya Zoutan Shu (2013). Satoh has served as Planning Member for the Toshima Art Station Koso since 2011.

Founder, Art Center Ongoing
Ogawa was born in Tokyo in 1967. After graduating from Musashino Art University in 2001, he received a Master’s from the Tokyo University Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies. Between 2002 and 2006, Ogawa organised the annual large-scale exhibition “Ongoing”, which comprised the selected works of applicants. Based on the network of artists established by this exhibition system, Ogawa opened alternative space Art Center Ongoing in Kichijoji in 2008. He also currently serves as a chief director for the TERATOTERA project, which connects the areas between Koenji Street and Kokubunji Street.

Producer and CEO of Akio Hayashi Office
Hayashi was born in Tokyo in 1984. Upon graduation from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Hayashi worked at BEPPU PROJECT as a general secretariat member and threw himself into projects that revitalise the local community through arts and tourism whilst using public spaces and commercial venues. Hayashi established his own company in 2013. He had previously joined International Exchange Placement Programme (2009, London), and India-Japan Entrepreneur Exchange Project (2012).


Program Officer, Tokyo Cultural Creation Project
Sakamoto was born in Tokyo in 1981. She received her master’s degree from Pratt Institute, Arts and Cultural Management in 2008 and has worked as a programme coordinator for Asian Contemporary Art Week at the Asia Society New York since 2007. Sakamoto has held her present post since 2010, taking charge of the Tokyo Art Research Lab that aims to foster human resources for art projects and contribute to the larger goal of establishing Tokyo as an Asian cultural hub.

Art Director and Founder of Yanaka-no-okatte
Tomizuka organises projects that provide spaces for people to experience different cultures and customs through the medium of art.

man visits a friend of his who is a mountain priest to request that he come and offer prayers to cure the unfortunate Taro.


They set out immediately for the man’s home. Upon arrival, the mountain priest performs an extremely exaggerated preparatory ceremony, and then starts the curing incantation. In response to the incantation, Taro begins hooting like an owl. The man explains that when Taro went to the mountain recently, he knocked down an owl’s nest, and the mountain priest immediately senses that the problem is that Taro has been possessed by the spirit of the angry owl.

Mountain Priest | Kazunori Takano
Man | Ren Naito
Taro | Go Iida

tied to the stick 2Tied to a Stick (30 min)
A master is unhappy because his two servants Taro Kaja and Jiro Kaja drink his wine when he is out. He calls Jiro Kaja and discusses the best way to punish Taro Kaja. Jiro Kaja suggests that they have him demonstrate his favorite art of stick fighting and tie him to the stick. Taro Kaja easily falls into the trap and both his hands are tied to both ends of his stick. Jiro Kaja laughs, but the master sneaks up behind him and ties them together. The master explains that he has tied them up to keep them from stealing and drinking his wine while he is out. He then leaves. As soon as he is gone, the two servants find themselves even more thirsty than usual.

Master | Shuichi Nakamura
Taro Kaja | Mansai Nomura
Jiro Kaja | Kazunori Takano

What is Ky?gen?
Along with Noh, Bunraku and Kabuki, Ky?gen is one of the four representative classical theatre arts of Japan. It is a form of medieval popular comedy that arose in the Kyoto area contemporaneously with Noh in the early 14th century. While Noh focuses on meditation and memory, sin and salvation, Kyogen positively affirms human nature with the exquisite usage of humour. Ky?gen has been attracting thousands of audiences, mixed in terms of age, class and gender, since its inception till today. In 2001, Noh and Ky?gen were designated “the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” by UNESCO. Bunraku and Kabuki followed suit in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Mansaku-no-Kai Ky?gen Company
The Mansaku-no-Kai Ky?gen Company is a Ky?gen group founded by Mansaku Nomura II and led with his son Mansai II. Both were members of an illustrious theatrical line that boasts a 250-year history. Since the company’s first tour abroad to the Paris International Theatre Festival in 1957, Mansaku has been a pioneer in sharing the art of Ky?gen with international audiences by giving performances and lectures worldwide. In continuing his father’s mission, Mansai not only performs Ky?gen extensively but also commits himself to exploring further possibilities of Ky?gen as a contemporary performing art. Mansaku has been named a Living National Treasure of Japan while three members of Mansaku-no-Kai – Mannnosuke Nomura, Mansai Nomura and Yukio Ishida – are designated Holders of Important Intangible Cultural Property in Nohgaku.

Mansai NomuraMansai Nomura
Born in 1966, Mansai Nomura II studied under his father Manskau II and his late grandfather Manzo VI (both Living National Treasures). He made his stage debut at the age three. His stagings go far beyond that of traditional Ky?gen and Noh actors having performed title roles in plays such as Oedipus, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, and Hamlet, directed by Jonathan Kent.

He also starred in hit Japanese films like Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1985), Yohjiro Takita’s Onmyoji (2001), and Isshin Inudo and Masatsugu Higuchi’s The Floating Castle (2012) .

In addition to his exuberant acting career, he is committed to directing plays that merge the classical and the contemporary, east and west; his talent a magnet for attention from public and critics. Besides The Ky?gen of Errors, which toured London’s Globe Theatre in 2002 and the U.S. in 2005, his directing credits include Kuni-nusu-bito (from Richard III), Yabu no Naka (In a Thicket), Kagamikaja (Mirror Servant) and Atsushi (from the late Atsushi Nakajima`s Sangetsuki and Meijinden) which brought him Asahi Performing Arts Award and the Kinokuniya Theatre Award in 2005 for direction and composition. He has received the National Arts Festival New Artist Award and Ministry of Education Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists and ia a designated Holder of the important Intangible Cultural Property in Nohgaku. He has served as the Artistic Director of Setagaya Public Theatre since 2002

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