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Friday, June 4, 2010

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Spring showing: "Littoral," by Wajdi Mouawad, is one of 13 plays that will be performed at Spring Arts Festival Shizuoka. ©JEAN-LOUIS FERNANDEZ

Shizuoka festival takes the stage

Special to The Japan Times

The annual Spring Arts Festival Shizuoka is keenly anticipated by theater lovers across Japan thanks to its high quality of program selection.

At the start of this year's 11th festival, 51-year-old Satoshi Miyagi, artistic director at festival organizers Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), declared the theme of this year's festival was "Unfinished world — The world will never end as long as there is love." He then listed a selection of plays that share the common focus of examining current world conditions.

Included in this year's lineup of 13 programs from Japan and abroad are SPAC's staging of the Henrik Ibsen classic "Peer Gynt" and Miyagi's own creation, an oriental version of the ancient Greek myth "Medea."

Miyagi has also collaborated with Japanese dramatist Oriza Hirata and France's Olivier Py to create "Epitre aux jeunes acteurs" ("Letters to Young Actors"), a rhetorical piece questioning why we have poetry.

Meanwhile, the festival's international invitation programs include a one-woman piece criticizing society titled "Security," written and performed by Zena Edwards from London; "Littoral" by Canada-based Lebanese playwright Wajdi Mouawad, which was a hit at the Avignon Theater Festival in France last year; and "Ode maritime," a Japanese debut for 86-year-old French dramatist Claude Regy.

In addition, Brazilian director Enrique Diaz returns to SPAC with his latest work, "The other, (if for a moment)."

This year, SPAC is spread across four venues, with five programs being presented at the high-tech Shizuoka Arts Theater in the city center and the others at Shizuoka Performing Arts Park, which is nestled in the prefecture's rolling green hills outside the city.

Adding to the festivities this year, Miyagi will try to bring theater types together at community events such as "Festival Bar 2010," a city-center watering hole to be opened each Saturday night during the festival that lets visitors mingle with the dramatists.

"Spring Arts Festival Shizuoka 2010" runs from June 5 till July 4. "Peer Gynt" kicks things off at the Shizuoka Arts Theater in Shizuoka City on June 5. Tickets cost between ¥1,000-¥4,000. For details on when the other performances run, call SPAC at (054) 203-5730 or visit www.spac.or.jp

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