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Japan Society Tours Darkly Comic Psychological Romp from Japan's Leading New Theater Artist Kuro Tanino in U.S. Debut

Newa Gekidan Penino's The Room Nobody Knows

5 Performances Only! January 8-12, 2014, at Japan Society

**Part of The Public Theater’s 2014 Under the Radar Festival **


庭劇団ペニノ公演『誰も知らない貴方の部屋』

New York, NY – As part of its current 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season, Japan Society presents The Room Nobody Knows, written and directed by Kuro Tanino, marking the U.S. debut of his work and his company Niwa Gekidan Penino. Following five performances at Japan Society, January 8-12, as part of The Public Theater’s 2014 Under the Radar Festival, the production will be mounted at Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN; January 16-18); Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH; January 23-26); FringeArts (Philadelphia, PA; January 30-February 1) and On the Boards (Seattle, WA; February 6-9).

Sprung from the mind of Japan’s acclaimed young theater artist (and former psychiatrist) Kuro Tanino, The Room Nobody Knows lures viewers into the strange and darkly comic world of two brothers sharing a small apartment in greater metropolitan Tokyo. Set on the day of the older brother’s birthday, this play probes fractured psyches and anxiety-inducing secrets, which manifest in very unexpected ways, from libidinously-shaped décor to the appearance of two bizarre-looking creatures borne from the younger brother’s imagination.

In the signature hyper-visual style of Tanino’s company Niwa Gekidan Penino, The Room Nobody Knows features an elaborate, surreal, two-story set – depicting an apartment of curious proportions – a disorienting, colorful environment that hints at what might be deep inside the minds of the characters as their dreams, doubts and desires spring vividly to life.

"While this visual theater could have been born from any experimental theater scene in a contemporary urban city, I would like to emphasize that The Room Nobody Knows implies a true slice of contemporary Japan, where young adults' social ineptitude has been a longtime problematic phenomena," says Yoko Shioya, Japan Society’s Artistic Director, "Then, I wonder, 'When one of those young adults is fixated only on his or her personal matters – personal space, siblings, his or her own body, desires, etc. – what would his or her 'room' be like?' Kuro Tanino's theatrical imagination and experience as a psychiatrist enables him to examine this question in a funny and bizarre way."

Tokyo Stages remarks, “Kuro Tanino’s troupe is a one-man psychological trip into the underbelly of our desires.” The company features actors Ichigo Iida, Momoi Shimada, Taeko Seguchi, and Ikuma Yamada, Set Designer Michiko Inada, Lighting Designer Masayuki Abe (LICKT-ER), and Sound Designer Yoshihiro Nakamura. Translation is by Ami Shiekierczak Oki. Performed in Japanese, with English subtitles.

Playwright and director Kuro Tanino was born in Toyama Prefecture in 1976. He brings with a keen interest in visual art to Niwa Gekidan Penino, the theater company he formed in 2000 while a student at Showa University Medical School. Tanino became a licensed psychiatrist in 2003, and until recently, was a practicing psychiatrist. Honors for his work in theater include being nominated as a finalist for Japan’s most prestigious theater award, the Kishida Kunio Drama Award, for his plays Fortification of Smiles (Egao no Toride) (2007) and Starry Shadow Jr. (Hoshikage no Jr.) (2008). In addition to work with Niwa Gekidan Penino, Tanino directed Henrik Johan Ibsen’s Vildanden (2007) and wrote and directed Chekhov!? (2011) commissioned and presented by the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, a large theater complex owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, for the 150th anniversary of Chekhov’s birth. He was assistant director of Dewey Dell’s Marzo (2013) performed at the steirischer herbst Festival (Austria) and Next Festival (Belgium).

As a company, Niwa Gekidan Penino, whose works are all written and directed by Kuro Tanino, endeavors to present freewheeling forms of expression, often utilizing small, carefully designed, non-conventional spaces, aimed at transcending the existing framework of drama. The company Niwa Gekidan Penino (niwa means garden and gekidan means theater company in Japanese) has performed throughout Japan, and been invited to perform at internationally recognized festivals and venues such as Hebbel am Ufer Berlin (Germany), Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Switzerland), Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival Groningen (Netherlands), Next Festival (Belgium) and Kulturschiene (Germany). In 2012, Niwa Gekidan Penino co-produced Fabrice Melquiot’s Bouli Miro together with the French Institute in Tokyo and OWL SPOT (Tokyo) and in 2013 they presented Box In The Big Trunk at Morishita Studio in Tokyo and at KYOTO EXPERIMENT.

The Room Nobody Knows (full Japanese title: Dare mo shiranai Anata no Heya) premiered in Tokyo in February 2012, when it was performed in the Niwa Gekidan Penino studio, named Atelier Hakobune (meaning studio ark), a typically small, ordinary residential apartment in Tokyo where Kuro Tanino lived during his student years and where the majority of the company’s plays have been produced and presented. Atelier Hakobune is just large enough to fit an audience of about 30 people. The Room Nobody Knows represents a leap in imagery and absurdity from Tanino’s breakthrough work, the 2008 production Frustrating Picture Book for Adults (Iraira suru Otona no Ehon) which toured to Europe in 2009 and 2011, making stops in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Belgium. These two plays, inspired by Tanino's experience as a psychologist, share the same two-story stage set and a few characters. Since its premiere in Toyko, The Room Nobody Knows has been presented in Osaka (Japan), and at the Helsinki Festival (Finland) and Südpol: Musik Tanz Theater (Lucerne, Switzerland).

Japan Society Artistic Director Yoko Shioya comments, “We are thrilled to once again be part of Under the Radar, with whom we collaborated in 2012 on Hideki Noda’s THE BEE and Toshiki Okada’s chelfitsch Theater Company’s Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech, and to be introducing Niwa Gekidan Penino to U.S. audiences through the five-city tour this winter.”

ABOUT JAPAN SOCIETY’S 2013-14 PERFORMING ARTS SEASON

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, one's 60th birthday, 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 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 kicked 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. Most recently, the Society presented the English-language premiere of Yukio Shiba’s play Our Planet, in a building-wide theater event directed by Alec Duffy. Following The Room Nobody Knows, the season continues with 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.

HISTORY OF THE JAPAN SOCIETY PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAM

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.

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Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Under the Radar at The Public Theater is an explosively diverse festival of new theater from the U.S. and around the world that spotlights artists ranging from emerging talents to masters in the field. The festival offers a crash course in theater that is exciting, independent, and experimental, created by some of the most dynamic artists working today. www.undertheradarfestival.com

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 www.japansociety.org.

The Room Nobody Knows performance Schedule (NYC): Wednesday, January 8, 7:30 pm (followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists reception); Thursday, January 9, 7:30 pm; Friday, January 10, 9:30 pm; Saturday, January 11, 9:30 pm; Sunday, January 12 , 2:30 pm. Running time: 60 minutes.

Tickets: $28/$22 Japan Society members. 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 tickets or more information, call the box office at 212-715-1258. For general information call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

This program is supported by The Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN Program, Arts Council Tokyo and The Saison Foundation. MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception support is provided by MetLife Foundation. The Room Nobody Knows is a part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. 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; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Ms. Kumiko Yoshii; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Mr. Norton Belknap; The Globus Family; Geoffrey Paul Gordon and Nicole A. Gordon; Dr. Stephen J. and Mrs. Michiko Levine; Mr. James C. Nolan (deceased); Mr. Michael Romano; Mr. Alex York and Paula S. Lawrence. Endowment: 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. Japan Society would like to thank the following corporations for their special gifts for the Performing Arts Program’s 2013-14 60th Anniversary Season: The Starr Foundation, Dentsu Network, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Sumitomo Corporation of America, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., Canon U.S.A., Inc. , Citi, ITOCHU International Inc. , Marubeni America Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc., Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc., Mizuho Bank, Limited & Mizuho Securities USA Inc. , Nomura Holding America Inc., ORIX USA Corporation, SMBC, Sojitz Corporation of America, Daiwa Capital Markets America Holdings Inc., IHI INC., Kaneka Americas Holding, Inc., and Tokio Marine Management, Inc. (as of December 16, 2013).

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Media Contacts:
Bridget Klapinski, Seven17 Public Relations, 347-246-6182, bridget@seven17pr.com
Shannon Jowett, Japan Society, 212-715-1205, sjowett@japansociety.org
Kuniko Shiobara, Japan Society, 212-715-1249, kshiobara@japansociety.org

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