Due to Popular Demand, Performance Added for Remounting of Basil Twist's Award-Winning 'Dogugaeshi'

8 Performances Only! September 18-22, 2013, at Japan Society

** Matinee Added: Saturday, September 21 at 2:00pm **

バジル・ツイスト 『道具返し』

New York, NY – Japan Society has announced an added performance in the September 18-22 limited engagement of renowned puppet artist Basil Twist’s award-winning Dogugaeshi, the production launching Japan Society’s 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond! Originally set to play seven performances, the production has added an eighth performance: Saturday, September 21 at 2:00pm. Complete schedule as follows: Wednesday, September 18 at 7:00pm; Thursday, September 19 at 7:30pm; Friday, September 20 at 7:00 & 9:30pm; Saturday, September 21 at 2:00, 7:00 & 9:30pm; and Sunday, September 22 at 2:00 pm.

In Dogugaeshi, a swirling whirlpool leads into a mystical world where a white fox, the piece’s sole figurative puppet, guides viewers through a forest of ever-unfolding, infinitely intricate images of ancient and modern Japan. Inspired by the centuries-old stage mechanism once commonly used in Japanese puppet theater (dogugaeshi), this production features nearly 100 handcrafted painted screens that slide, swivel, bend and bounce, drawing audiences into a mesmerizing landscape. Dogugaeshi features four puppeteers, including Basil Twist, and a live performance by master shamisen player and experimental musician Yumiko Tanaka, whose multilayered music collage embraces everything from traditional tunes to popular songs. For the upcoming engagement, Japan Society’s 260-seat auditorium will be transformed into an intimate 70-seat black box theater. Performance runs approximately 60 minutes.

Commissioned by Japan Society in 2003, Dogugaeshi premiered to wide acclaim there in 2004 and returned to New York during the Society’s Centennial Celebration in 2007. Winner of a 2005 Bessie Award and New York Innovative Theatre Artistic Achievement Award, the show has toured extensively, including several appearances in Japan, and was part of Basil Twist’s 2012 career retrospective festival in Washington, D.C. In addition to the appearance at Japan Society this Fall, Dogugaeshi will have performances at Hamilton College (Hamilton, NY; September 13-14); Radar L.A. (RedCat, Los Angeles, CA; September 26-29); and Cal Performances (Berkley, CA; November 6-10).

This multidisciplinary production includes Video Projection Design by Peter Flaherty (Broadway: Sondheim on Sondheim; Parsifal at The Metropolitan Opera; Soul Leaves Her Body at HERE; Big Dance Theater’s The Other Here; Complicite’s The Elephant Vanishes; The Builder’s Association’s Continuous City), Lighting Design by Andrew Hill (Big Dance Theater’s Shunkin; Len Jenkin’s Like I Say) and Sound Design by Greg Duffin (Conne Production’s Luna; Resident Sound Designer for Japan Society NYC since 2004; Basil Twist’s Symphonie Fantastique and Arias with a Twist; Work and Screenplay for the Flea Theater; The Wild Pear for Theatre Arts Japan; Flyers and Other Tales for Heels Hit First). Associate Lighting Designer is Ayumu “Poe” Saegusa (Basil Twist’s Rite of Spring and Arias with a Twist). Puppeteers for the New York engagement: Basil Twist, Kate Brehm, David Ojala and Jessica Scott.

History of stage mechanism dogugaeshi in Japan: The antique Japanese puppet theater mechanism dogugaeshi (dogu means “tool” or “theater set” and gaeshi means “to turn over”) hails from Awaji Island and Tokushima prefecture, with a long tradition within Japanese folk puppet theater. Featuring a series of intricately painted screens that slide open to reveal image after image in rapid succession, dogugaeshi developed over centuries, with a history inextricably linked to that of Japanese puppetry. It is said that Japanese traditional puppet theater, or ningyo joruri, took root in the mid-17th century when puppet manipulation, the tradition of oral narrative and the music of the three-stringed shamisen were combined in dramatic form. It became one of the most popular entertainments in Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when Japan’s flourishing merchant class greatly valued entertainment. During that period, puppet troupes were formed and professional theater rapidly evolved in major cities such as Kyoto, Osaka and Edo (modern day Tokyo), while in rural areas, popular folk puppet theater traditions continued to thrive. While the Awaji Puppet Theater is the only professional troupe that gives regular public performances using the dogugaeshi technique today, the dogugaeshi tradition is still present in rural village folk puppet festivals, mainly in Tokushima prefecture.

Basil Twist (Director / Scenographer / Puppetry artist), a native of San Francisco, is a third generation puppeteer now living in New York. He is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières, France. His work was first spotlighted in New York by The Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry with his award-winning The Araneidae Show. This production along with his critically praised and multiple award-winning Symphonie Fantastique, revealed Twist as a singular artist of unlimited imagination. Symphonie has since toured internationally and throughout the United States. Highlights of Twist’s subsequent work include Petrushka (commissioned by Lincoln Center) and Dogugaeshi (Japan Society), Behind the Lid (Silver Whale Gallery) with the legendary Lee Nagrin, and Arias with a Twist (HERE) co-created with nightlife icon Joey Arias. His productions have toured throughout the world. On Broadway he created and staged the puppetry in The Addams Family for which he won a Drama Desk Award and staged the puppetry for The Pee-wee Herman Show. He made his debut at the Comédie Française as designer and co-director of A Streetcar named Desire with Lee Breuer. Twist’s work is deeply musical in nature. He has conceived and directed two successful operas, Ottorini Respighi’s La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco with the Gotham Chamber Opera at the Lincoln Center and Spoleto USA Festivals, and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel for the Houston and Atlanta Operas, and staged Manuel de Falla’s complete Master Peter’s Puppet Show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has adapted his Petrushka to concert hall staging with full orchestra for the Fort Worth and Phoenix Symphonies. His maverick Rite of Spring – a ballet without dancers made its world premiere this spring at Memorial Hall commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts. Twist has taught at leading universities such as Duke, New York University and Brown and as a guest lecturer of the US State Department in Russia. He has received an Obie, a Drama Desk Award, five UNIMA Awards, two Bessie Awards, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, a Henry Hewes Award, a Guggenheim, a USA Artists fellowship and was most recently awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In 2012, Washington D.C. hosted a retrospective of his work, Twist Fest D.C. He is the director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE in New York. His new site-specific commission for the La Jolla Playhouse makes its world premiere on a beach in San Diego on October 3 as part of the WoW Festival.

Yumiko Tanaka (Musical Direction / Shamisen Improvisation / Sound Design) was born in Fukuoka Prefecture and received an MA in musicology from Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1979, Tanaka studied with gidayu recitation artist and Living National Treasure Komanosuke Takemoto, and in the following year became a disciple of the late Kinshi Nozawa, the gidayu shamisen master who was also a Living National Treasure in bunraku. Since her debut performance in 1981 at the Honmoku-tei in Tokyo, Tanaka has been active as a shamisen player and vocalist, not only in traditional Japanese music, but also in contemporary music, improvised music, opera, dance and musical theater. She has performed with orchestras, such as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Her career in avant-garde music includes collaborations with internationally renowned artists such as Otomo Yoshihide, Keiji Haino, Kazumi Watanabe, Elliott Sharp, John Russell, Carl Stone, Ned Rothenberg, John Zorn, Akira Sakata and Butch Morris. Tanaka has participated in many kinds of unique contemporary music groups, including the traditional Japanese instrumental ensemble Pro Musica Nipponia, led by composer Minoru Miki; the all-Japanese-classical instruments group ITO, formed by composer Yuji Takahashi; and the band Ground-Zero led by Otomo Yoshihide. Tanaka was one of three featured performers in the Heiner Goebbels' acclaimed musical theatrical spectacle, Hashirigaki, which premiered at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland (2000), and has performed all over the world, including the Edinburgh International Festival and BAM in 2003. In 2012, she performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center and at the UN Headquarters in New York, as well as at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and Palais des Congrès in Paris. Tanaka received the Education Minister’s Art Encouragement Prize for Newcomers (1990); a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council, which supported her residency in New York (2006-07); and a grant from the Japanese Government Overseas Study Program for Artists. Tanaka became a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property as a member of the gidayu-bushi Preservation Society in 2009.


Shamisen Workshop with Yumiko Tanaka
Saturday, November 2, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Used in kabuki and bunraku puppet theater, the three-stringed shamisen is one of the most central musical instruments in Japanese traditional theater. Master shamisen player Yumiko Tanaka from Tokyo, leads a workshop on playing and chanting techniques specific to the shamisen. The session includes a short demonstration performance by Tanaka and NY-based shamisen player Yoko Reikano Kimura, who also joins the workshop. Max. 12 participants. Some music experience preferred. Observer tickets may be available after participant tickets have sold out. Tickets: $48/$42 Japan Society members.

In the 2013-14 season, Japan Society’s 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond!, the Japan Society Performing Arts Program celebrates its kanreki with a range of international cross-cultural collaborations, encompassing beloved encore performances, world and U.S. premieres, legendary performers and emerging artists. In Japanese tradition, kanreki, one's 60th birthday, is a special celebration of longevity and rebirth, honoring a lifetime of accomplishments, taking stock of achievements, and diving into the future with renewed drive and reinvigorated purpose.

This milestone season kicks off in September with Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi, followed by two improvisational concerts by avant-garde iconoclast musician/composer John Zorn with Ryuichi Sakamoto on October 4, as the culminating event of Zorn's citywide 60th birthday celebration Zorn@60. The season continues with the world premiere of Yukio Shiba’s Our Planet, directed by Alec Duffy, a site-specific, building-wide theater event (November 20-December 8); the surreal and humorous theater production The Room Nobody Knows by Kuro Tanino (January 8-12); ancient Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant, a rare, contemplative, colorful performance by two-dozen priests at St. Bartholomew's Church (March 6); the Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation, Getting Lost, written by Shiro Maeda and directed by Dan Safer (March 31); the International Premiere of choreographer Luca Veggetti’s Pleiades, performed by former Jiří Kylián's Nederlands Dans Theater soloist Megumi Nakamura in collaboration with distinguished percussionist Kuniko Kato (May 2-3); and concludes with an annual summer concert.

Since its inception, Japan Society’s Performing Arts Program has presented well over 600 events of the finest Japanese theater, dance, and music from the most stunningly preserved traditional to the genre busting cutting-edge. Today the program continues to push boundaries, educate and make creative visions come to life by presenting and touring works by leading international artists, promoting cross-cultural exchanges, commissioning new works and coordinating artist residencies and public programs. Beginning with its first presentation in 1953 at Columbia University, the Society has shared the unique arts and culture of Japan with U.S. audiences. In 1957, the Program began actively presenting Japanese musicians of both Eastern and Western traditions through concerts at schools and leading New York City venues.

In the years to follow, programs such as gagaku Imperial Court music (1959) and the NY premiere of bunraku (1966) were among Americans’ first tastes of the traditional performing arts of Japan.

In 1971, the completion of the Society’s building (landmarked in 2011) at the current location gave the program a permanent stage of its own and opened its doors for year-round presentations. The space was inaugurated with a concert by the Tokyo String Quartet. Subsequent breakthrough presentations include Awaji Puppet Theater (1971); Eiko & Koma U.S. debut (1976); a two-week-long run of Grand Kabuki (1982) at the Metropolitan Opera House; Tadashi Suzuki’s The Trojan Women/The Bacchae (1982); and Sankai Juku (1990) at New York City Center.

In 1992, a major donation from the Lila Acheson Wallace/Japan Society Fund enhanced the Society’s auditorium, enabling the Program to vastly expand its offerings. Highlights in the years following include Yamabushi Kagura (1994); Toru Takemitsu’s memorial concert (1996); Seinendan Theater Company U.S. debut (2000); and Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company (2003), to name a few. In 2006, an exclusive Performing Arts Program endowment was established through a matching grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, allowing the Program to increase the frequency and scale of its commissions to non-Japanese artists for the creation of new works inspired by the culture of Japan. In addition, the Program has collaborated with world-class cultural organizations such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Public Theater, BAM and the Guggenheim Museum; and the Program’s leadership role in Society-produced North-American tours of Japanese performing artists has earned it recognition among presenters around the world.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. More at

Performances: Wednesday, September 18 at 7:00pm* (followed by Season Opening celebration dinner); Thursday, September 19 at 7:30pm; Friday, September 20 at 7:00 & 9:30pm; Saturday, September 21 at 2:00, 7:00 & 9:30pm; and Sunday, September 22 at 2:00 pm.

Tickets: $36/$28 Japan Society members. General admission. *Special season opening celebration tickets September 18: $100/$92 Japan Society members, including the performance and a post-performance bento box sit-down dinner with Basil Twist. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-715-1258 or in person at Japan Society (M-F 11:00am – 6:00pm and Sat-Sun 11:00am – 5:00pm). Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and M at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street). For more information, call 212-832-1155.

Support for Japan Society’s 2013-14 Performing Arts Season:

Corporate Partner: MetLife Foundation; Major Support: Doug and Teresa Peterson, Mr. Kenneth A. Cowin; Dr. John K. Gillespie; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; an anonymous donor; and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Additional Support: Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II; Mr. Richard Royce; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Mr. Norton Belknap; Mr. James C. Nolan; Mr. Michael Romano; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Mr. Alex York; The Globus Family; and Paula S. Lawrence. Ongoing Endowment Support: Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund; and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with leadership gifts from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Globus Family, Kyocera Corporation, The Starr Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation. In-kind Support: Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society. MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception support is provided by MetLife Foundation. Dogugaeshi is supported by The Jim Henson Foundation and Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II. Yumiko Tanaka’s travel is funded by The Japan Foundation. Ms. Tanaka’s residency in New York City is made possible, in part, by The Globus Family. John Zorn + Ryuichi Sakamoto is supported by Yamaha. Our Planet is supported by The Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN Program, the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Asian Cultural Council. The Room Nobody Knows is supported by The Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN Program and Arts Council Tokyo. Play Reading is supported by The Saison Foundation. Shomyo: Ritual Buddhist Chant is co-presented with The Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation and held at St. Bartholomew’s Church. This program is supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal year 2013, Doug and Teresa Peterson, Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II, and The Asahi Shimbun Foundation. The tour of Shomyo no Kai—Voices of a Thousand Years is made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Media Contacts:
Bridget Klapinski, Seven17 Public Relations, 347-246-6182,
Shannon Jowett, Japan Society, 212-715-1205,
Kuniko Shiobara, Japan Society, 212-715-1249,

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