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Friday, Feb. 10, 2006


Youthful dramatics

Oriza Hirata, founder of the cutting-edge, Tokyo-based Seinendan Theater Company that has been at the forefront of Japanese contemporary drama for over a decade, is one of Japan's leading scriptwriters and directors. But as owner of the Komaba Agora Theater, two stops down the Keio Inokashira Line from Shibuya, Hirata is not content -- like so many others -- to simply operate within an artistic bubble of his own making.

Instead, Hirata, 43, has responded to Japan's woefully inadequate public and private support for the arts by offering his own theater to rising companies and talented dramatists who would normally have great difficulty staging productions in the cut-throat conditions of the capital.

So this year, in cooperation with his longtime colleague Motoi Miura, Hirata is hosting his second annual, monthlong "Winter Summit" through Feb. 26. Advanced ticket prices vary, but most are in the region of an audience-friendly 2,000 yen.

Featuring four Tokyo-based companies and three others from Fukui and Aomori prefectures, and Sendai City, the festival's schedule is nothing if not broad. It spans contemporary dance sketches depicting young people's everyday lives from Tokyo's Kikori Bunko company; mime-based humor from Sendai's Pointo company as they portray a group of blundering would-be post-office robbers; and a take on social ills from the Watanabe Genshiro Shoten company based in Aomori.

In addition to satisfying audiences, though, "Winter Summit 2005" also aims to foster talented and aspiring young dramatists through a series of workshops on themes that include "publicity design for theater" and "stage production."

"Winter Summit 2005" runs till Feb. 28 at the Komaba A-gora Theater, a 3-min. walk from Komaba Todaimae Station on the Keio Inokashira Line (on the local train). For the full schedule and for ticket information, call Komaba Agora Theater at (03) 3467-2743 or visit www.agora-summit.com

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