By Suguru Yamamoto
Led by Charlotte Brathwaite
Preview by David Roberts
Japan Society presents a staged reading of “Girl X” by Japanese playwright Suguru Yamamoto, led by award-winning director Charlotte Brathwaite. Part of Japan Society’s 2015-16 Performing Arts Season, “Girl X” marks the 12th installment of the Society’s annual Play Reading Series of contemporary Japanese plays in English translation. The Play Reading Series reflects the Society’s continued commitment to introduce the wide range of contemporary Japanese plays to American audiences, seeding possibilities for development of American productions of Japanese plays. This event takes place Monday, March 21 at 7:30 PM at Japan Society (333 East 47th Street).
Set in present-day Tokyo, “Girl X” conveys the mood of an anxiety-ridden society through the members of an anonymous urban family: “Sister,” who lives with her rich “Husband” and young daughter, her derelict “Younger Brother,” and “Man,” her former boyfriend who now wanders the streets in search of the “Enemy.” Written by young Japanese playwright Suguru Yamamoto in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, “Girl X” has received international acclaim for capturing a spectrum of complex emotions. Princess Grace award-winning stage director Charlotte Brathwaite leads a cast of American actors and musicians in this multi-layered play. Playwright Suguru Yamamoto will travel to New York and join in a post-performance conversation with the director and audience. “Girl X” features Mikéah Ernest Jennings (actor), Paul Lieber (live video), Paul Pryce (actor) and Justin Hicks (live sound). The play premiered in Japan in 2013 and had subsequent performances in Malaysia, Thailand and India in 2014.
This event is part of Japan Society’s “Women on the Rise” series, a new long-term initiative bringing to the fore programming and content related to women, and shining a light on women who are pushing boundaries and expanding horizons within their field. The reading is also held as part of the Society’s Commemorating the 5th Anniversary of 3/11, an institution-wide series of programming that examines the post-3/11 recovery and reconstruction process, and the tremendous challenges that remain.
Suguru Yamamoto is a rising playwright and director born in 1987. While a student at Japan’s Oberlin University in 2007, he started his theater company Hanchu-Yuei. In 2013, his company presented the play “Yojo X’ (“Girl X”), which has become the group’s representative work, staged with a screen on which the words spoken by unseen characters like the voice of god appear in text superimposed on the screen and interacting with the actors. This play was widely recognized as a form of expression symbolic of the e-mail/texting generation that communicates through text messages and images via their cell phones. In 2014, Yamamoto and his group were invited to perform this play in Malaysia and Thailand and India, where it was well received and won the Best Play and Best Script awards at the Bangkok Theater Festival 2014.
Princess Grace award-winning stage director Charlotte Brathwaite is known for staging classical and unconventional texts, dance, visual art, multi-media, site-specific installation and music events which have been seen in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. Recently she directed “Prophetika: an oratorio” at La MaMa Theater in New York, celebrated as, “conceptual yet viscerally powerful,” by “The Wall Street Journal.” She is also the recipient of the Julian Milton Kaufman Prize and a Rockefeller Residency. BA, Amsterdam School for the Arts (the Netherlands); MFA, Yale School of Drama (USA). She was a Visiting Professor at Amherst College, a Visiting artist at Williams College and is currently assistant professor of Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Upcoming: “The New Lost Generation” in collaboration with company Naturaleza Humana in Berlin, Germany.
Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.
Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced nearly 700 of Japan’s finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-edge theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs.