Why we, non-mothers, simulate pregnancy
The current state of affairs around pregnancy and childbirth in Japan is not promising. Despite a declining birthrate and aging population, Japan has made little progress in creating a culture that is conducive to childbearing and childrearing. Meanwhile, those who choose not to have children continue to face societal pressure. Theater director Nagara Wada approaches this stagnant situation by reviving an unconventional custom called couvade. For this work, Wada recreates a piece first staged in 2019 with media artist and stage production newcomer yang02 as her collaborator.
According to the dictionary, couvade is a “custom in some cultures in which a man takes to his bed and goes through certain rituals when his child is being born, as though he were physically affected by the birth.” By engaging with this ancient and also theatrical custom, the performers, both men and women who have never given birth, will simulate and liberate the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, considered only possible for mothers. Notably, teenagers are cast as performers for this version through an open call. With the participation of young leaders of the next generation, and through collaboration with yang02, who has maintained a physical approach to his technologically rooted practice, the work is updated to reflect the current times and poses new questions around childbirth from a fresh perspective.
10.16 (Sat) 13:00 / 17:00 ★
10.17 (Sun) 13:00 / 17:00
10.16 (Sat) 17:00
Speaker: Nagara Wada, yang02, Kyoto Experiment Co-directors
10.17 (Sun) 17:00
Speaker: Nagara Wada, yang02
Guest: Masamitsu Araki (artist, sound designer)
Duration: 90 min
Doors open 30 min. prior to the performance.
Wada established shitatame in February 2011 and started working as a theater director based in Kyoto. In her practice, she creates theater that uses language and the body to zoom in on the vast amount of details that we miss in our daily lives, as if stringing together a series of failed attempts to grasp something. She collaborates with artists from such other fields as visual art and photography. In 2015, she won Best Work at the fifth edition of the Telling a Story by Creating from a Play Script competition. In 2018, she won the Audience Award at the Komaba Agora Directors Concours. From 2019, she has been involved with the cartographical research project Our Freehand Atlas. She is a Saison Fellow I from 2021.
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1984, yang02 graduated with a master’s degree in Information Design (Media Art) from Tama Art University in 2009. His works show how information technology can substitute human actions in the form of autonomous devices. Through digital media, his practice inquires into human physicality and the independence of one’s actions or expression. His works SENSELESS DRAWING BOT and Avatars, both created in collaboration with So Kanno, were awarded, respectively, the New Face Award at the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2012 and the Excellence Award at the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival in 2018. Recent solo exhibitions include _prayground (2019, rin art association, Gunma) and group exhibitions include 20th DOMANI: The Art of Tomorrow (2018, The National Art Center, Tokyo), Vanishing Mesh (2017, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]) and Aichi Triennale (2016, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art).
Direction: Nagara Wada (shitatame)
Cast: Hiromi Ishikawa, Osamu, Masaya Kishimoto, Manaho Sugimoto, Saho Matsuda (dracom)
Lighting: Yukiko Yoshimoto (Mahiru)
Sound: Toru Koda
Stage Manager: Kodachi Kitagata, Yuya Kitamura
Assistant Director: Momoko Nakamura
English text summary translated by hanare x Social Kitchen Translation
Production Coordinator: Yukina Yagi (Kyoto Art Center)
Special Thanks to artical-inc, Chikako Akata, Sayaka Obata, Atsuko Kiyokawa, Takenori Sato, Tomoko Sugimoto, Keiko Tsujino, Chikako Bando, Mana Yumii
Produced by Kyoto Experiment (Recreation version)
Assistance from Kyoto City Board of Education
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan through the Japan Arts Council and National Arts Council, Japan Foundation for Regional Art Activities [Intergenerational Thinking], The Saison Foundation
Presented by Kyoto Experiment