Based on the book by Ursula K. Le Guin
Directed by Magda Szpecht Text and Dramaturge: Łukasz Wojtysko Dramaturge: Ken Takiguchi
A transnational, interdisciplinary theatre experience of a future utopia
One of the emerging talents in Polish theatre, Magda Szpecht works with a team of Japanese and Polish collaborators to create a utopia onstage. The performance is inspired by “Always Coming Home,” Ursula K. Le Guin’s highly original science fiction novel that consists of ethnographic records of poetry, plays, songs, customs, and maps supposedly created in the distant future. It depicts a culture that has abandoned technological progress and maintains a spiritual bond with nature. Szpecht’s bold adaptation has developed out of a transnational research process involving a unique collaboration of artists from the two countries, including dramaturges, actors, and dancers as well as a choreographer, composer, set designer, and video artist. The resulting performance presents a multimedia landscape shaped by videos and audio recordings of Japanese and Polish nature, choreography, music, and anthropological insights.
The Making of “Always Coming Home”
It is October 28th, 2018 and I am deep in conversation with Magda Szpecht and Łukasz Wojtysko at a cafe inside Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. Why are they interested in the work of Le Guin? What are their aims behind attempting this project? Over the course of their three weeks in Japan, we were joined by the assistant dramaturges Chisato Sone and Kenyu Paku and held many such discussions, either in the F/T office or ensconced at an Ikebukuro izakaya.
As the talks continued, our interest seemed to converge into the question of how we can use the medium of theatre to envision the world.
Le Guin’s “Always Coming Home” is a particularly unusual kind of book in that it comprises a collection of highly diverse texts about a fictional place called the Valley. Each of the texts is merely a fragment representing part of the world in which it is set. The reader is called upon to pick out information from the deluge of content available on theses pages, to reorder it, and to imagine his or her own version of the Valley.
As such, how can we construct “fragments” that harness the characteristics of theatre? We might say that we spent the next year exhaustively engaging with this question. The first thing we did was to ask various people to tell us about their idea of a utopia. What are the ways in which people are envisioning worlds that do not exist in reality? We carried out research in order to learn this.
After the New Year, Łukasz and I began chatting online as we developed the text. How could we possibly organize the immense amount of information in the original book? What kind of structure should we adopt? 10 pm in Tokyo is 3 pm in Warsaw. This was the time during which Łukasz and I would hold our discussions. We considered a range of ideas and wrote a text based on them, and then brought in Magda to discuss this further. We were left with a mountain of rejected and discarded ideas. During this period we also received a lot of input from Chisato and Kenyu as well as Roman, the director for programming of TR Warszawa. The rehearsals that started in Warsaw in September then saw the rest of the creative team, not least the Japanese and Polish actors, contribute idea after idea.
What you will watch today is the result of this collaborative process. We hope you will enjoy it.
|Name||Always Coming Home
Inspired by the book “Always Coming Home” by Ursula K. Le Guin
11/8 (Fri) 19:00
|Venue||Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre (Theatre East)|
|Running Time||90 min.|
|Language||Performed in Japanese, English, and Polish (no Polish surtitles for Japanese or English dialogue)|
Jun Hoshikawa (Japanese translator of “Always Coming Home”)
Magda Szpecht (director)
Łukasz Wojtysko (text and dramaturge)
Ken Takiguchi (dramaturge)
Interpretator: Kochi Kuyama
In Japanese and Polish with consecutive interpretation
Born in Tokyo in 1952, Jun Hoshikawa relocated to the island of Yakushima, in the far south of Japan, in 1982. He is a writer and translator, head of act beyond trust, and a former executive director of Greenpeace Japan. In his work, he seeks out ways to live life more fully and improve human society by protecting nature in both its inner and outer forms. He is the author or translator of more than 80 books, especially related to the environment and social change.
|High School Students & Younger||¥1,000*|
|Festival Pass (3 Performances)||¥3,000|
*For both advance and same-day tickets. Proof of age required.
Born in Poland in 1990, Magda Szpecht studied journalism and social communication at the University of Wroclaw and drama directing at Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków. Her work is highly varied and interdisciplinary, encompassing elements of film, documentary, visual arts, dance, and more. Her major productions to date include “DOLPHIN_WHO_ LOVED_ME”(2014), “Schubert. A Romantic Composition on Twelve Actors and a String Quartet” (2016), and“Things We Didn’t Throw Out” (2019).
|Directed by||Magda Szpecht|
|Based on the book by||Ursula K. Le Guin|
|Text and Dramaturge:||Łukasz Wojtysko|
|Assistant Dramaturges:||Chisato Sone, Kenyu Paku|
Ayako Araki, Miho Inatsugu, Nana Suzuki, Monika Frajczyk, Mateusz Górski, Paweł Smagała
|Stage Design, Lighting, Costumes:||Michał Korchowiec|
|Production Coordinators:||Wakana Arai (Festival/Tokyo), Katarzyna Białach|
A Festival/Tokyo, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, and TR Warszawa co-production
|Technical Manager:||Eiji Torakawa|
|Assistant Technical Manager:||Nahoko Yokokawa|
|Stage Manager:||Chikage Yuyama|
|Stage Assistants:||Yui Kato, Kohei Ogawa|
|Design Coordinator:||Tomomi Nakamura|
|Lighting Coordinator:||Naoki Kinoshita (Factor Co., Ltd.)|
|Sound Coordinator:||Akira Aikawa (Sound Weeds Inc.)|
|Video Coordinator:||Mucho Muramatsu|
|Surtitles:||Shiori Ueno (Jimaku Makuuchi)|
|Surtitles Cueing:||Zabko-Potopowicz Krzysztof|
|Costume Coordinator:||Sakura Fujibayashi|
|Hair & Makeup:||Chihiro Terakado|
|Technical Interpreter:||Noriko Yamada|
|Publicity Design:||Mina Tabei|
|Main Visual Design:||Grzegorz Laszuk|
|Video Documentation:||SAIKOUDO Co., Ltd.|
|Production Assistant:||Hatsumi Kakinoki|
|Interns:||Yuki Sasaki, Mutsumi Hanawa|
|Special cooperation from||the Polish Institute in Tokyo|
|Endorsed by||the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tokyo
An associated program in the 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Poland and Japan in 2019
“Always Coming Home” by Ursula K. Le Guin
Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Copyright © 1985
All Rights reserved.
Quotation from “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (Columbia University Press, 2014)
Since his debut, he has collaborated with many important young Polish directors. In 2009, he started working with Michał Borczuch, preparing his version of “The Sorrows of Young Werther” for the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Kraków. In 2016, he wrote the play “VV. I am not a dog anymore,” which was chosen as a semi-finalist for the Polish Dramaturgy Award in Gdynia. Recently, he has worked widely with Magda Szpecht. Their most recent performance, “Things We Didn’t Throw Out,” is a collection of object-oriented stories. As an editor he works with Unsound, one of the most progressive music festivals in Europe.
Based in Malaysia and Singapore from 1999 to 2016, Ken Takiguchi has been involved in numerous intercultural theatre projects alongside working for the Japan Foundation in Kuala Lumpur and The Necessary Stage in Singapore, and as a research fellow at the Theatre Studies Programme of National University of Singapore. He is founding member of the Asian Dramaturgs’ Network. He currently works at Setagaya Public Theatre and also teaches part-time at Tokyo University of the Arts.
Born in 1991 in Hyogo, Chisato Sone is attached to the directing department of Seinendan. After graduating from Osaka University, she worked in R&D for an IT recruiting corporation while also studying at Komaba Agora’s Murinkan school. Today she works as a director, theatre venue producer, and dramaturge. Her acting roles include “Curry and the Villagers” (2013) and “Night Never Gets Darker” (2018), while her directing credits include “Right to Play” (2019) and “Recitations” (2019). She is a recipient of a 2019 Creative Environment Innovation Program grant from The Saison Foundation.
Born in Shimane Prefecture in 1991, Kenyu Paku is concerned with activating various interstices inevitably pregnant within planning and production, the creative process, and audience reception in the performing arts, as well as in the verbalization of temporal, spatial, and physical experience in the performing arts. As a dramaturge, he works with such companies as Safari P, Toriko A, Nuthmique, Bird Park, and Hitogoto. He served as the general manager for the Komaba Agora Directors Concours 2018 Executive Committee and won the top prize at the theatre criticism contest at World Theatre Festival Shizuoka 2018.
While continuing to work in the theatre, Ayako Araki developed her interest in various approaches to the body and studied at the Performing Arts Institute. She then performed in Japan and overseas as a member of the company Pappa TARAHUMARA from 2009 until it disbanded in 2012. Her recent credits include appearances in the work of Hiroshi Koike, Takuro Suzuki, Shiho Uemoto, and Naoyuki Asahina. Her major work includes “The Restaurant of Many Orders,” directed by Koike. Her wide-ranging output also encompasses appearances in videos, voice acting, and choreography.
Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1987, Miho Inatsugu started her career in the theatre while studying at Tokyo University of the Arts. She works as an independent actor, mainly for the stage. Her acting credits include productions by Okazaki Art Theatre, Sample, chelfitsch, Mikuni Yanaihara Project, Busstrio, Office Mountain, Yukari Sakata, and Tokatsu Sports. She is known for her range as an actor and for seeking to work beyond conventional boundaries. Since 2015, she has worked as a member of the performance project ima theater. Based on various performance approaches and ideas, she also develops theatrical experiences within the everyday and urban space.
After studying theatre at Kanto International Senior High School, Nana Suzuki relocated to New York. She studied various forms of dance on a Steps on Broadway scholarship, appearing in performances by various choreographers and groups such as Jacob’s Pillow. After returning to Japan, she has worked with a wide range of artists, including Noism2, Company Derashinera, Strange Kinoko Dance Company, Pichet Klunchun, and Will Tuckett. She works as an independent dancer and choreographer at home and abroad, pursuing her own unique style.
A graduate of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School in Kraków, Monika Frajczyk has been a member of the TR Warszawa artistic ensemble since September 2019. For TR Warszawa, she has acted in “Fear” (directed by Małgorzata Wdowik), “The Chinese” (directed by Klaudia Hartung-Wójciak), and “Pieces of a Woman” (directed by Kornél Mundruczó). She made her professional debut at the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre in Kraków in “Howl” (directed by Maciej Pieprzyca). She received the Actress Award at the 33rd Theatre Schools Festival in Łódź for the role of Marusia in “Long Live the War” (directed by Monika Strzępka) and at the 55th Rzeszow Theatre Meetings – New Theatre Festival in 2016 for the role of Petra in “An Enemy of the People” (directed by Jan Klata). In 2015–2018, she was a member of the artistic ensemble at the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in Kraków. She received the Best Actress Award at the 38th Warsaw Theatre Meetings for the role of Laughter Yoga/Songhoy in “The Triumph of the Will” (directed by Monika Strzępka). She was also the recipient of 2018 Trójka Talent Award in the theatre category. She received the Special Ignacy Lewandowski Award at the 59th Kalisz Theatre Meetings for the role of Midwife in “Pieces of a Woman” (directed by Kornél Mundruczó).
A theatre actor, student at the Stanisław Wyspiański National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków, and member of the TR Warszawa artistic ensemble since September 2019, Mateusz Górski made his professional debut in 2019 at the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre in “The Kingdom,” directed by Remigiusz Brzyk, followed by the title role in “Woyzeck,” directed by Grzegorz Jaremko in a TR Warszawa production. The same year, he also appeared in a video shown in “Other People,” another TR Warszawa production directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna.
A graduate of the Ludwik Solski State Theatre School in Kraków, Paweł Smagała has been a member of the TR Warszawa artistic ensemble since 2016, where he has acted in “Soundwork” (directed by Wojtek Blecharz), “Robert Robur” (directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski), “G.E.N” (directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna), “My Struggle” (directed by Michał Borczuch), “The Chinese” (directed by Klaudia Hartung-Wójciak), and “Rechnitz. Opera – The Exterminating Angel” (directed by Katarzyna Kalwat). He made his professional debut at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków in “All Souls’ Day – Wyspiański” (directed by Krzysztof Orzechowski). He is a long-time collaborator with Krzysztof Garbaczewski for the virtual reality collective Dream Adoption Society. His many accolades include an award at the 38th Opole Theatre Confrontations for the role of Filip in “Iwona, Princess of Burgundia” (directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski), the Main Actor Award for the role of Konstanty in “Morphine” (directed by Ewelina Marciniak) at the 55th Kalisz Theatre Meetings, and an award for his performance in “Robert Robur” at the 57th Kalisz Theatre Meetings.
A choreographer and dancer, Paweł Sakowicz graduated from the University of Warsaw with a degree in political science and holds an MA in performance and choreography from the London Contemporary Dance School. For the last few years, he has been working with various artists, curators, and theatre-makers across Europe. His work includes “Bernhard,” “TOTAL,” “Jumpcore,” “Thriller,” and “Masakra.” They were staged at the third edition of Polish Dance Platform, NYU Skirball Center, CAC New Orleans, and more.
Krzysztof Kaliski is a guitarist in the bands Alameda 4 and itzan svihm as well as the composer of theatre music. His collaborators include Wiktor Rubin (“Stateswomen, Sluts of Revolution, or the Learned Ladies,” “Vernon Subutex”), Magda Szpecht (“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”), Grzegorz Jarzyna (“Other People”), Weronika Szczawińska (“Genius in the Turtleneck,” “An Invisible Boy,” “Failures in History of the City,” “K. or Memories from the City,” “Wars I Have Not Lived Through,” “Paris Commune”), and Bartosz Frąckowiak (“Africa,” “Workplace”). In 2012, he and other artists received recognition at the National Contemporary Polish Drama Staging Competition for “Komornicka. The Apparent Biography.” He is the recipient of the Main Award for Artistic Personality at the New Theatre Festival in Rzeszów (2015).
A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (Faculty of Painting, Media Art), Michał Korchowiec has had over a dozen exhibitions in Poland and abroad featuring his paintings, video art, and installations. Since 2009, he has been working as a set designer with various theatre directors, including Monika Strzępka, Wiktor Rubin, Magda Szpecht, Jacek Poniedziałek, Yana Ross, and Wojtek Klemm. For the set design for “Courtney Love” (directed by Monika Strzępka), he won the Best Set Design Award at the Divine Comedy International Theatre Festival in Kraków. For his contribution to the development of Polish theatre, he has also received the Leon Schiller Award and the Jan Świderski Award. In 2016, he directed and produced his debut feature-length documentary, “Morgenrot,” which was screened at festivals in Poland and abroad. He is a recipient of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s creative scholarship and the Young Poland scholarship, as well as a participant in the following art residency programs: Cafe Tissardmine (Morocco), Sim Art Residency Reykjavik (Iceland), and the Sunday in the Country workshops in Rügen by the European Film Academy.
Born in 1986 in Nagoya, Ryohei Tomita graduated with a degree in music from Tokyo University of the Arts, where he also undertook postgraduate study. His photographic and video documentation work encompasses everything from exhibitions to stage design, new media art, and music, extending also to producing video artworks and collaborating with various artists.