Essay

Director’s Note [2010]

For creating new relationships

New International Performing Arts Festival, KYOTO EXPERIMENT, launches in Kyoto.

Theaters and festivals play different roles. Yet, from my understanding, they should function to complement each other. For example, the Small Theater Movement in 60ʼs in Japan had acquired their performing venues by striving for a place to create and perform. After pushing themselves with these experiences, they stretched their field to perform “outward” including at overseas venues. Not only performing “outward”, they also made relationships on the road then invited others to perform at their own theaters in the form of festivals. “Toga Festival” (1982 -) as well as “Summit” (former “the End-of-Millennium Theater Festival”) (1988 -) at Komaba Agora Theater are the major cases. The festivals resulted in producing a considerable amount of talent. The importance of a spontaneous link between theater and festival goes without saying.

In Kansai, from its inception in 2001 the biennial “Biwako Hall Summer Festival” had a great impact. 2001 was the dawn of the Kansai contemporary dance scene; AI HALL launched a co-production project with Kansai artists, while Japan Contemporary Dance Network, Department of Film Production and Performing Arts at Kyoto University of Art and Design, and Kyoto Art Center were all founded in 2001. For such institutions, artists, and enthusiasts, the summer festival was a crucial opportunity to encounter cutting-edge performances from around the world.

A decade has past since the artistic environment for Kansai performing arts began to be put in place. What are the consequences that we can see today? Despite the enhancement of the system, there are many productions that are simply hitching a ride on the already established systems and show no particular effort to put forward new ideas. Without an aim or mission to achieve, I canʼt help noticing that the scene is building an invisible barrier around itself and itʼs almost become a closed group for certain enthusiasts.

It is now the time for us to reconsider what performing arts are and the potential of the art form. Performing arts involve, even more so than any other art form, the notion of the audience. Therefore, it holds the possibility to evoke the audiencesʼ understanding of the“present”- the here and now. And if the vision for being in the “present” was more than one vision and possibly transmutable, those who live in the “present”- we – would also become a collective and have the possibility of stretching and expanding the limits of individual life.

Though experimental is a key factor when it comes to the selection of the works, KYOTO EXPERIMENT is not only for introducing experimental performances. It also aims to be an experimental ground where one may encounter works that review our “present” through their intellectual schemes, which in turn expand our understanding of it. The world is all around us. Not being afraid of change, KYOTO EXPERIMENT attempts to bring visions of time and space into contact with one another, colliding and engaging them in dialogues within the frame of performing arts. The “lab” has to stay open to “outward” instead of locking its door. And it should be the kind of lab that poses questions of everyone who attends the experiment.

The people and works that are involved in this festival will be thrown into this experimental ground and they are encouraged to freely explore. With this, I hope for unexpected encounters and new inspirations to come into being. And if all the possible outcomes were to project a “present” of Kyoto, in a sense drawing a map of Kyoto, it could reaffirm our belief in the power of performing arts.

Yusuke Hashimoto
Kyoto Experiment Program Director