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Friday, June 24, 2011

TOKYO

Black Stripe gets weighty with new play


Special to The Japan Times

Black Stripe Theater (BST) is the creation of three expatriates residing in Tokyo: Ian Martin, Walter Roberts and Chris Parham. They founded the company in 2007 after meeting through the 115-year-old foreigners' theater company, Tokyo International Players.

News photo
Hogging the stage: Black Stripe Theater will put on a performance of Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig." BLACK STRIPE THEATER

In starting BST, they had three main aims: To present cutting-edge contemporary plays in English rather than the usual standards by William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and other acknowledged masters; to stage those productions to a professional standard; and to keep ticket prices down so the theater could remain open to all theater lovers.

To date, the company has been notably vibrant and provocative in its choice of plays, which have included Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," about the dog-eat-dog world of real-estate salesmen; a double bill of "The Homecoming" and "The Hothouse" by absurdist dramatist Harold Pinter; and British feminist writer Caryl Churchill's identity-questioning "A Number."

Next month, BST will welcome back well-known narrator and actress Rachel Walzer, who took on the role of director in 2009 with "The Homecoming." This time, her challenge is to helm "Fat Pig," a 2004 play by one of today's most remarkable playwrights Neil LaBute. The play will be staged at the Our Space venue on the edge of Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward.

The story centers around a young businessman's societal dilemma after taking up with a new girlfriend who is intelligent, funny and sexy — but too large for high society. BST promises a "dazzling, hilarious, painful, sexy, relevant and disturbing play," one where its audiences are guaranteed to "not only laugh and squirm — but to gasp as well." Sounds good, and if BST's track record is anything to go by, it will be yet another winner.

"Fat Pig" runs July 1-3 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Our Space, a three-minute walk from Hatagaya Station on the Keio Shin Line. For more information, call BST at (090) 6009-4171 or visit blackstripetheater.com.


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