Performing Women - 3 Reinterpretations from Greek Tragedy

Photo of Performing Women - 3 Reinterpretations from Greek Tragedy

The Japan Foundation’s involvement with contemporary Asian theatre can be traced back to the early 1990s. Since then, the Foundation has not only brought a number of important works from other Asian countries that can be taken as snippets of the times we live in, but also has created works jointly with artists from different countries, including Lear (which premiered in Japan in 1997 and toured worldwide in 1999), which was written by Rio Kishida from Japan, directed by Ong Ken Seng from Singapore, and performed by artists from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand; Memories of a Legend: Inspired by "The Baburnama – Memoirs of Babur" (which premiered in Japan in 2005 and toured in India in 2006), which was conceived and co-directed by five directors from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; and other works.

Performing Women: 3 Reinterpretations from Greek Tragedy is a joint work with artists from India, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Japan. The piece takes an omnibus form in three sections, with their theme taken from Greek tragedy on the topic of "woman," and each section was directed by one of the three directors. Rather than present Greek tragedies per se, each director was asked to reconstitute them in new perspectives, with the goal of exploring the concept of "woman" as a metaphor for key concepts that inform our world today. The three directors are all widely recognized for their cutting-edge work in their countries. Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli, who was born in Turkmenistan and currently lives in Uzbekistan, focused on Medea and drew her conflict and sorrow by trans-gender casting and skillful use of the powerful Central Asian singing style. Abhiliash Pillai from India, who focused on Helen, reinterpreted her as a manifestation of radical exteriority to the homogeneous Greek "democratic" community, linking her with the oil over which today’s world is fighting. The Japanese composer/musician Kazuki Kunihiro joined as one of the two actors playing Orestes. Mohammad Aghebati from Iran focused on Jocasta, and threw up the questions of what is sin, what is taboo, and what is human will, in the setting of Jocasta and Oedipus getting married, only to be destroyed the mechanism of fate and Divine Will.

The set design, which played a crucial role in visually developing the images of the entire piece, was made by Daisuke Nakayama, an internationally acclaimed contemporary Japanese artist, and the innovative lighting design was made by a Japanese lighting designer, Shinichiro Oishi.
The play was premiered in January 2007 in the 9th Bharat Rang Mahotsav (National Theater Festival) in New Delhi, also as an opening highlight of the Japan-India Exchange Year. Six months later, in October of the same year, a powered-up version was performed at the Bunkamura Theater Cocoon in Tokyo and in the Seoul Performing Arts Festival in South Korea. The performance in Japan was broadcast nationwide by NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, the national broadcasting network of Japan) in January 2008.

Performing Arts Network Japan now shows a digest of the performance in Japan.Click "View Clip" in the lower left of the page.

Photo of Medea
Part Ⅰ: Medea

Photo of Jocasta
Part Ⅱ: Jocasta

Photo of Helen
Part Ⅲ: Helen

Photo: Hitoshi Furuya

Japan Oct. 6 - 8, 2007
Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon, Tokyo
Organized by: The Japan Foundation, Bunkamura, Asahi Shimbun
Photo of Japan-India Friendship YearJapan-India Friendship Year
India Jan. 7 - 8, 2007
9th Bharat Rang Mahotsav (National Theatre Festival)
Abhimanch Auditorium, National School of Drama, New Delhi
Organized by: The Japan Foundation
Presented by: National School of Drama
Photo of Japan-India Friendship YearJapan-India Friendship Year

Jan. 20, 2008
10h Bharat Rang Mahotsav (National Theatre Festival)
Abhimanch Auditorium, National School of Drama, New Delhi
Presented by: National School of Drama
*Only the "Helen" part was performed.
South Korea Oct. 13 - 14, 2007
7th Seoul Performing Arts Festival
Namsan Drama Center, Seoul
Presented by: Seoul Performing Arts Festival
Uzbekistan February 15, 2007
Youth Spectators Theater, Tashkent
*Only the "Medea" part was performed.


Photo of Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli
Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli
(Part Ⅰ)

Photo of Mohammad Aghebati
Mohammad Aghebati
(Part Ⅱ)

Photo of Abhilash Pillai
Abhilash Pillai
(Part Ⅲ)


Photo of Kazuki Kunihiro
Kazuki Kunihiro
(Interlude composer, guitalist, vocalist)

Set designer

Photo of Daisuke Nakayama
Daisuke Nakayama

Project advisors: Anuradha Kapur, Tadashi Uchino

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