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The Carletonian

Japanese arts winter term preview

<rld-renowned artists and performers will be joining Carleton students and faculty this winter term as they embrace the time-honored traditions of Japanese theater and art. The project, “The Art of Sight, Sound, and Heart: Visualizing Japanese Theater,” will run from the first week of January through the beginning of March and feature a wide range of events open to both the Carleton community and the public.

The art exhibition will open with a lecture on January 7th, entitled “The Path of the Onnagata: From Male to Female,” which will be given by David Furumoto, Director, U-W Madison theater and Associate Professor of Acting, Dept of Theater and Drama. The event will be followed by a reception in the art gallery.

The Carleton Art Gallery will be showing pieces associated with kabuki and noh theater, including carved masks, figurines, and netsuke. Kabuki is a form of Japanese dramatic theater rooted in popular legends and characterized by “elaborate costumes, stylized acting, and the use of male actors for all roles.” Noh, on the other hand, are dramas rooted in religion and involve song and dance, simple settings, and elaborate costumes. Woodblock prints with imagery from the 18th and 20th centuries will also be on display in the gallery.

The exhibition, funded in part by a Visualizing the Liberal Arts (Vis) grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will feature pieces from the Carleton College Art Collection, museums such as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and other liberal arts college museums.

“One of the goals of the Vis Grant is to connect to the curriculum,” said Laurel Bradley, Director of Exhibitions & Curator of the College Art Collection. Proving that no liberal arts experience is complete without hands-on participation, the project will also tie into a number of courses that will be offered during winter term.

Departments such as Art and Art History, Asian Languages, and Theatre and Dance are all offering courses and encouraging students to take full advantage of this opportunity. Other events also open to students include a new play, created in collaboration with the Minneapolis Children’s Theater; a kabuki acting workshop with University of Wisconsin’s David Furumoto; and a dance workshop with avant-garde figure Eiko Otake.

The play, entitled “The Last Firefly,” is the newest creation from award-winning playwright Naomi Iizuka. Iizuka, head of the play-writing program at the University of California, San Diego, will offer a playwriting workshop while on campus. Kabuki theatre expert David Furumoto and director Sean Graney (Artistic Director of the acclaimed Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis) will work hand-in-hand with the Carleton Theatre Department to produce the premiere of the play.

In addition to “The Last Firefly,” there will be a “site-specific” performance lead by Eiko Otake, a world-renowned dancer. Her site-specific dances “combine traditional ritualistic styles with more personal movements,” said Bradley. The movement is often considered “highly visual, deeply poetic, and emotionally disquieting.” Otake will work with a group of students to create the piece during her residency which will last from January 24 to the 29.

With everything from lectures, courses and dance lessons, to acting in the premiere performance of “The Last Firefly” play, “The Art of Sight, Sound, and Heart: Visualizing Japanese Theater” will have much to offer students, faculty, and anyone looking for a stimulating artistic experience winter term.

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