22 & 23 March 2017
A new play which will premiere in Sydney March 22 & 23 entitled The Unknown Dancer in the Neighbourhood, is a drama about apathy and anonymity in a Japanese suburb on the city fringe. During the day the neighbourhood bustles with people who treat each other indifferently; yet at night, it transforms into a dangerous zone, festering with crime. Through the powerful movements of a single actor, the play introduces the neighbourhood’s inhabitants and reveals their past, present and future.
30-year old Tokyo-based award-winning director and playwright Suguru Yamamoto’s skilful blend of theatre, dance and projection art unites with actor and choreographer Wataru Kitao’s intuitive but precise movements. Together, they seamlessly weave the characters’ lives into a captivating story on stage.
The Unknown Dancer in the Neighbourhood, brought to Sydney for the first time by The Japan Foundation, Sydney, was created by Yamamoto under his solo project Docu(nt)ment. It was developed and produced by Steep Slope Studio through their creative support program. The play was showcased as a featured production at the Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting 2016 and at Festival/Tokyo 2016.
Producer Yumina Kato of Steep Slope Studio, says I’m sure a lot of audience members enter the theatre thinking this is a play written by a playwright, and therefore everything is based on a script. However, after having seen the performance, a lot of people will think otherwise. Yamamoto successfully merges drama and dance, while Kitao’s movements are so natural it doesn’t look like his performance is choreographed.
About Suguru Yamamoto: Suguru Yamamoto is a rising playwright and director whose unique style of staging has attracted attention in Japan and Asia. In his productions, the performers interact with a combination of projected text, photography, light and shadow. The Unknown Dancer in the Neighbourhood, created under his solo project Docu(nt)ment, breaks away from his usual theme of examining an actor’s life experiences onstage.
Under his theatre company Hanchu-Yuei, Yamamoto has created award-winning works on the subject matter of morality and ethics. His play Girl X won Best Play and Best Original Script awards at the Bangkok Theatre Festival in 2014, while I can’t die without being born, was shortlisted for the 59th Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2015.
About Wataru Kitao (Baobab): Wataru Kitao has been involved with the performing arts since his youth, gaining experience in a range of dance forms from classical ballet to street dance. He studied at J. F. Oberlin University under Kuniko Kisanuki, modern dance and butoh artist, and formed the dance company Baobab in 2009. With its remarkable ensemble style, the group has participated in numerous festivals and produced its own tours. Kitao also appears in and choreographs performances outside of his work with Baobab. He received the Audience Award at the Toyota Choreography Award 2012.
The Unknown Dancer in the Neighbourhood is part of the Breaking the Mould event series at The Japan Foundation, Sydney. The series will bring emerging, boundary-pushing work from Japan’s art and contemporary theatre scenes to Australia.
w/ English surtitles
Photos by Ryuichiro Suzuki