Shirotama Hitsujiya, NYC, Japan, Asia, Japan Society, playwrights, Vietnam, immigration, women in theater, AJOKAI, Southeast Asia

Japan Society Presents a Public Forum on Theater, Women, and Immigration

“Rest in Peace, New York.” A Public Forum on Theater, Women and Immigration

Monday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Japan Society – 333 East 47th Street (between First and Second Avenues)

Admission: $10/$8 Japan Society members

Japan Society welcomes back Shirotama Hitsujiya, internationally known performance artist, artistic director of the experimental theater company YUBIWA Hotel, and founder of AJOKAI (Asian Women Performing Arts Collective), for a residency and public forum focused on the experiences of Vietnamese women who have immigrated to New York. In this Spring residency, as part of an ongoing project collecting the oral histories of Southeast Asian women, Hitsujiya will delve into New York’s vibrant Vietnamese community through a series of immersive studies and conversations, compiling the personal stories of the women she encounters into a script that will be transcribed onto a long rice-paper handscroll. Ultimately, Hitsujiya’s findings will be shared in Rest in Peace, New York., an intimate roundtable discussion during which the scroll will be passed around and read aloud as part of a guided reflection for participants, including New York-based female theater artists and ticketholders in this special one-night-only event. This event, part of Japan Society’s 110th Anniversary Season, aligns with the Spring 2018 Performing Arts focus on deepening the Society’s relationship with New York artists.

Shirotama Hitsujiya, NYC, Japan, Asia, Japan Society, playwrights, Vietnam, immigration, women in theater, AJOKAI, Southeast Asia
Shirotama Hitsujiya

Comprised of a nearly month-long residency culminating in the public roundtable on Monday, May 14, Rest in Peace, New York. is presented by Japan Society in connection with the Asian Women Performing Arts Collective AJOKAI, a networking organization for female artists, directors, producers, translators, and researchers in the theater, dance, and film throughout Asia. Among those participating in the reading of the “interview-based script” are Catherine Filloux, playwright, founder of Theater Without Borders, and Asian Cultural Council grantee; Thuy Q. Pham, Executive Director of Vietnam Heritage Center; Emilya Cachapero, Director of Artistic and International Programs of Theatre Communications Group; Michi Barall of Ma-Yi Theater Company; Kristine Haruna Lee, playwright and Director of harunalee company; and Melanie Joseph, Artistic Producer & founder of The Foundry Theatre.

The project is a continuation of Hitsujiya’s series which includes Snow, Frost, Cloud, Dew, Hail, Sleet, Hail in which she interviewed Southeast Asian women who emigrated to marry and live in the rural village of Tsumari, Niigata Prefecture (presented in 2015 at the Eichigo-Tsumari Trienniale) and a second project supported by a research trip to Vietnam where Hitsujiya visited women living in an ethnic minority farming village.

This project reunites Shirotama Hitsujiya with Japan Society, following the Society’s 2006 presentation of Candies: girlish hardcore, by Hitsujiya’s company YUBIWA Hotel, which explored the cultural phenomena and images of girlhood and femininity found in contemporary Japan. This performance embodied a longstanding characteristic of Hitsujiya’s work, which relentlessly attempts to reimagine and represent the issues of contemporary womanhood in Japan through interwoven spectacles that often include dance, text, masks, and lush costumes.

Born in Hokkaido in 1967 Hitsujiya was chosen one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential Japanese Women” by Newsweek Japan in 2006. Most recently, her work has jumped out of theater spaces into site-specific environments such as the ocean, trains, and tunnels. She has been presented in art festivals nationally and internationally including Brazil, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Poland, and the United States. In 2014, she started an art project called Tokyo, Soup, Blanket and Travelogue produced by the Tokyo Arts Council that explores how these four topics interrelate within isolated and distinctive communities throughout Tokyo. In September 2017, she directed a work for Sapporo International Art Festival entitled Rest In Peace, Sapporo that created surreal scenescapes for audience members to enjoy while riding Sapporo’s iconic green streetcars through the city. Recently, her role as AJOKAI’s co-founder has extended the scope of her artistic endeavors to include the oral histories of women in Southeast Asia as inspiration for her vivid and deeply collaborative projects.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Japan Society’s website.