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Friday, Oct. 10, 2008

Pappa Tarahumara stages quirky take on 'Gulliver' tale


Special to The Japan Times

Hiroshi Koike, founder of the internationally renowned Pappa Tarahumara performing- arts company, says on its Web site that he has been interested in Irish satirist and cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) for more than 20 years.

Swift is mainly known as the author of "Gulliver's Travels," which is usually published in Japan as a children's book with plenty of illustrations.

However, Koike says that, after he read the complete version of "Gulliver's Travels," he was drawn to Swift's paradoxical and curious view of human society, and decided to create a dance-theater staging set to music to reflect the author's quirky worldview.

To help him realize his vision, Koike — whose company is named after a beautiful and mysterious area deep in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico — asked various top artists from different fields and countries to come along and join the fun.

First up was leading contemporary sculptor Kenji Yanobe, who Koike asked to take charge of set design in what would be his first venture into the world of theater. Next he enlisted international award-winning electronic organist Junichi Matsumoto to compose original music and play it live. And then, in what promises to be a real musical treat, Koike also invited along Japan's top gamelan musician, Tetsuro Koyano, as well as Balinese musician Dewa Rai.

To this heady mix, along with his regular Pappa Tarahumara dancers, Koike has also brought in others from Bali, Java and Ireland to present what promises to be a very special staging of Swift's dreamlike yarn with layers of deep meaning often lost amid the childlike wonder of it all.

"Gulliver & Swift" runs until Oct. 12 at the Tokyo Globe Theatre, a five-minute walk from JR Shin Okubo Station. For more details and their future schedule, call the Pappa Tarahumara Company at (03) 3385-2066 or visit www.pappa-tara.com


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