Open-air Performing Arts Festival Shizuoka 2024

THE WHITE FOX

© KATO Takashi

Program Information

Genre / City Theatre/Shizuoka・SPAC new production
Dates 3 May at 19:00, 4 May at 19:00, 5 May at 19:00, 6 May at 19:00
Venue at Momijiyama Garden Square, Sumpu Castle Park
Duration Approx 100minutes
Language In Japanese with English, Chinese and Korean surtitles
Seat Reserved-seating
Direction and script MIYAGI Satoshi
Written OKAKURA Tenshin(“THE WHITE FOX”)
Music TANAKAWA Hiroko
Production SPAC-Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

Movie
Coming soon!

Introduction

Kitsunebi (ghostly lights) appear floating over Sumpu castle in Shizuoka City centre during SPAC’s production of the “The White Fox” (“Byacco-den”), an opera by the great scholar and art critic OKAKURA Tenshin (1863-1913) that was never actually staged during his lifetime. 

OKAKURA, who is generally known in Japan as Tenshin, loved Kabuki and traveled to many countries and is credited with an important role in introducing Japanese and Asian arts to the world. However, by the end of the 1868–1912 Meiji Era, when people were excited about the modernization and westernization of Japan, he was despairing of both his own country’s and Western countries’ future.

After enjoying Western opera during various stays in the United States, he wrote his English-language libretto “The White Fox” for the Boston Opera House just before his death. Now, SPAC’s general artistic director, MIYAGI Satoshi, is set to breathe new life into that work in this production he directs using his characteristic logos (speaker) and pathos (mover) method in which two actors share one role — and can also play music live on stage.

In this way, together with some reworking of the libretto, Miyagi is eager to bring the opera Tenshin dreamed of to full bloom in Spring in Shizuoka — as those atmospheric kitsunebi float over ancient Sumpu castle. 

This story, which has been handed down for more than 1,000 years, gently examines the relationship between nature and humanity.

“Byacco-den” is a love story between a man and a supernatural power that has taken possession of Kolha, a white fox. The work is based on “Kuzunoha Densetsu” (“The Tale of Kuzunoha”), also called “Shinodazuma”, on which the fox episodes in Kabuki and Bunraku are often based. In addition, Kuzunoha is the name of a popular fox character in Japanese folklore.

Since the story observes that nature isn’t something humans can control and exploit because they are just a part of it themselves, Tenshin probably hoped people would realize that and be more humble. Nowadays, those issues are even more pertinent due to our rapid destruction of nature, and so here in this new work Miyagi tackles one of the biggest themes in theatre today: the environment.

Synopsis

One day when she is nearly killed, the queen of the foxes, Kolha, is rescued by a man named Yasuna. Then, when Kolha hears that Yasuna’s lover, Kuzunoha, has been kidnapped, Kolha turns into her double and appears in front of him. Later, after Kolha and Yasuna have been living happily together for a while, Kolha hears that Kuzunoha is safe and well — and she makes a decision . . .

Director’s Profile

© KATO Takashi

MIYAGI Satoshi
MIYAGI Satoshi Born in Tokyo in 1959, after studying aesthetics at Tokyo University under ODASHIMA Yushi, WATANABE Moriaki and HIDAKA Hachiro, he founded the KU NA’ UKA theater company in 1990 and soon began staging plays overseas as well as in Japan. As a result, MIYAGI’s work — in which he often fuses contemporary textual interpretations with physical techniques and patterns of Asian theatre — has long been acclaimed both at home and far beyond. Indeed, in 2004 he received the 3rd Asahi Performing Arts Award, and the next year the 2nd Asahi Beer Art Award. Since taking up his position with SPAC in April 2007, MIYAGI has staged many of his own works — including “Medea”, the Hindu epic “Mahabharata”, and “Peer Gynt” — and has invited artists from abroad to present pieces casting a keen eye on the modern world as they see it. In line with his aim to make theatre “a window to the world,” he has also started a new SPAC-based project aimed at the youth of Shizuoka. In 2014, MIYAGI was invited to the Festival d’Avignon, where he received excellent reviews for his open-air version of the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” staged in La Carrière de Bourbon. Following that landmark achievement, the festival extended the honor of inviting MIYAGI to present a Buddhist interpretation he created of the ancient Greek mythological tragedy “Antigone” as its super-prestigious opening program for 2017. On that occasion, which was the first time an Asian play had ever been selected to launch the festival, MIYAGI’s exalted “stage” was the open-air Cour d’honneur du Palais des papes (the Honor Court of the Palace of Popes). By the play’s end, those towering medieval stone walls were ringing out with long and splendid standing ovations welcoming the work’s director and creator along with SPAC’s actors and staff — while more than 60 European media all gave great reviews. In 2018, he received the 68th Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize of Drama. Also he received “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” from the Ministry of Culture of France in 2018. In 2023, he received the Japan Foundation Awards, La médaille d’or du Rayonnement Culturel de La Renaissance Française.

Writer’s Profile

OKAKURA Tenshin
OKAKURA Tenshin Okakura (generally known in Japan as Tenshin) was an artadministrator and philosopher in the period following the restoration of the Meiji Emperor in 1868. He entered the University of Tokyo in 1887, the year it opened,where he met the professor of philosophy and political economy Ernest Fenollosa, an American expert on art history and Japanese art. After he graduated, Tenshin became secretary to the Minister of Education. He also participated in founding the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (today’s Tokyo University of the Arts), and surveyed antiques with Fenollosa. Although he had become president of that school in his 20s, he resigned in 1897 over policy differences. In the same year, however, he founded the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Visual Arts Academy) together with the great painter YOKOYAMA Taikan Yokoyama. Then in 1901 “The Ideals of the East” — a book Tenshin wrote in English during a two- year trip to India — was published in London. Soon after, he was invited to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he was appointed director of the Oriental department. Then, in 1906 in New York, he published his renowned work “The Book of Tea”, again in English. He died of a heart attack at his mountain villa in Niigata Prefecture on Sept. 2, 1913, at the age of 50.

Cast / Staff

Direction and script:MIYAGI Satoshi
Written:OKAKURA Tenshin(“THE WHITE FOX”)
Music: TANAKAWA Hiroko

Performed by SPAC / Micari, MIYAGI Satoshi :instead of HAYAMA Haruyo, IKEDA Makiko, UCHIYAMA Reina, OUCHI Yoneji, OOTAKA Kouichi, KATO Yukio, KAWAMURA Wakana, KIJIMA Tsuyoshi, SAKAKIBARA Yuumi, SAKURAUCHI Yu, SUZUKI Mariko, TATENO Momoyo, TERAUCHI Ayako, FUJIMI Hana, FUSE Asuka, HONDA Maki, MORIYAMA Fuyuko, YOSHIUE Soichiro, WAKANA Daisuke, WATANABE Takahiko

Prop Design : FUKASAWA Eri
Lighting Design:HANAWA Yuki
Sound Design:SAWADA Yukino
Costume Design:SEI Chigusa
Hair and makeup Design: KAJITA Kyoko

Assistant Director: NAKANO Masaki
Stage Manager: OGAWA Tetsuro
Stage: SUGIYAMA Yuri
Lighting:YOSHITSUGU Keisuke, MIZUNO Hikaru
Sound:OTSUKI Minori, MAKISHIMA Koji (S.C.ALLIANCE), MOCHIZUKI Ami (S.C.ALLIANCE)
Pupet Design:YOSHIDA Yuna
Art production: SATO Yosuke, MORI Masashi
Wardrobe: SEI Chigusa, MAKINO Saho, IKEDA Yuuna, ISHIKAWA Mitsuteru

Technical Director: MURAMATSU Atsushi
Assistant director・Surtitle Operator: OISHI Takako
Production:OISHI Takako, SATO Hiko

Talk

◎Pre-Performance Talk: Starting at 18:15, OOOKA Jun will introduce some points to make the play interesting to watch at the Festival garden. (approx 10 min/participation free/no reservation required).
◎Pre-performance:Starting at 18:30, there will be a pre-performance “Mini Byaccoden” in front of the venue by students of Shimizu Minami Senior High School, Art Department. (approx 5 min / participation free / no reservation required).

English surtitles

English, Chinese, Korean surtitles will be available for the performances. We lend tablets to customers. Please come to the lending desk at the venue.

Notice

*Performances will be held even if it rains. As the use of umbrellas is not permitted during a performance, please ensure you have suitable rainwear. You are also advised to bring warm clothes for night performances at this time of year.
*Please tell us beforehand if you want to see the show with preschool children.

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