Award-winning Japanese playwright to attend world English language premiere of his play at Fairfield University


Theatre Fairfield has already filled the first seat in the audience for its English language world premiere of the award-winning Japanese play "Tokyo Notes." Playwright Hirata Oriza will be on hand to see his play and discuss his work with the cast, students and the public.

Theatre Fairfield, the University's resident student theatre company, will present "Tokyo Notes," which won the 1995 Kishada Kunio Award, Japan's highest honor for new drama, at the Wien Experimental Theater in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Performances will take place from Wednesday, March 3, through Saturday, March 6, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 6, and Sunday, March 7, at 2 p.m.

Hirata will be available to discuss the play with the cast and audience after the 8 p.m. performances on March 5 and 6. In addition, he will participate in a free public lecture on contemporary Japanese theater on March 7 at noon in the multi-media room of Fairfield University's Nyselius-DiMenna Library. Jonah Salz, a professor at Japan's Ryukoku University, will act as a translator for Hirata.

Set in the near future, "Tokyo Notes" takes place in an art gallery hosting an exhibition of Vermeer paintings that had been sent to Japan for safe keeping during a 2004 war in Europe. Touching on world political and social relations, as well as personal relationships, the play examines the difficulties of modern Japanese life, where many find themselves caught between the traditional and the modern.

Since the play's premiere in 1994, there have been 40 major productions, including a well-received French version that toured throughout France. Theatre Fairfield's production features a cast of 20 students, including Tim Eberle of Woodland Hills, Calif.; Jessica Harper of Pflugerville, Tex.; Liz Krane of Stratham, N.H.; Mary Parr of Hendricks, Minn.; and Nicole Smith of Solon, Ohio. The scenic designer is senior Michele Fields of Katonah, N.Y. Hugh Hanson is costume designer and Karl Ruling provided lighting design. Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco, chair, Department of Visual & Performing Arts, is the director.

One of Japan's most intriguing and popular contemporary playwrights, Hirata is a realist, aiming for theater that is a direct portrayal of the world. Actors in his troupe, the Youth Group, reject obvious stage action and vocal techniques, sometimes speaking with their backs to the audience or overlapping conversations around them. The playwright should be right at home at the Wien, a black box theater that is similar in size to his own Komaba Agora Theater in Tokyo.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $5 for students. Admission to the March 7 lecture is free. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 5, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 177