The Dawn Center has been promoting stage art performances such as theatrical plays, music, and dance. The aim of our center's Women's Performing Arts is to transform, through cultural expression, the stereotypical social consciousness and image of women. Since its opening in 1994, the Dawn Center has been utilizing its 500-seat performance hall for Women's Performing Arts. Here I'd like to take the opportunity to look back on the "expressionists" who have been on stage at the Dawn Center's hall.
The very first performance at the opening of the Dawn Center in 1994 was "Akatombo – Grandma Ine's Vase." The main character was played by Ms. Eiko Shinya, whose acting career has lasted over 60 years and is often seen on TV and the movie screen. She also works on projects that address issues of human rights such as Koreans in Japan and in the "Assimilation Communities". One of Ms. Shinya's greatest performances was in the one-person show "Shinsetaryon," which is the story of a first generation Korean woman who comes to Japan and lives vigorously despite the challenges of poverty and discrimination. It was first performed in 1973 and has had over 2,000 performances.
The theater company "Gekidan Aoitori" was established in 1974 by seven women and has performed at the Dawn Center's Women's Performing Arts three times. It currently consists of eight women which includes three of its original members. Up until the beginning of 1990, the company didn't have a writer or a director; the actors did all the work themselves. Since most of the themes are about themselves, many women empathize with their performance. Now some fans of the company represent two generations within a family. As a women's center, it was a great honor that the all-woman theater company "Aoitori" marked its 30th anniversary by performing "Pororoca - Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry" in our Women's Performing Arts event.
The 6th Women's Performing Arts event was the omnibus play "Sakurairo Kanransha." The play showed three different life stages for women: "Adolescence," "Working Mother," and "Nice-Middle." The play was produced by "Engeki Club Nihuu Kan"which is a theater company that consists of Ms. Keiko Izumi and Ms. Chiyomi Fujita who are veteran actors. Their play "DANKAI BATTLE" describes the conflict and interaction between a career woman and a baby-boomer housewife. It was received with laughs, tears, and high praise from a lot of women. It has also been performed at four other women's centers near Osaka.
The 8th Women's Performing Arts event was a dance mime performance "Nayoyakanaru Onnatachi" that was adapted from the classic "The Tale of Genji." This performance was a collaboration of women from different professions. Ms. Sachiko Horii, who reads and studies classic literature from a gender perspective, contributed to the script. Ms. Shisen Kodama, an artist who specializes in hand-woven traditional tapestry Tsumekaki-Hon-Tsuzureori, worked on the stage art. Ms. Kazumi Fukagawa, a soprano singer, and Heidi S. Durning, a Japanese traditional and contemporary dance expert, also participated in the performance. Ms. Akiko Morimura, a stage art producer, coordinated the diverse background of the dancers and other participants to create the performance.
"Moonlight Children," was performed for the 4th, 5th, and 10th Women's Performing Arts events. It is a musical that focuses on the serious social problem of child abuse, and it expresses the emotions and feelings of children. Ms. Kyoko Moriwaki, a script writer who often focuses on social topics, researched the subject thoroughly in order to write about abuse issues. The director Ms. Kikuyo Semi, for example, had the children who were in the musical participate in a workshop that studied violence; she delved into the issues concerning women and abuse in order to create the musical.
Last year's Women's Performing Arts event, "Ikikata Sakurairo," was the last performance the Dawn Center will exclusively produce. It was a concert that consisted of music and talks performed by four women from different fields. Ms. Shigemi Yoshioka is a musician who composes and sings traditional poems written by Japanese women including Akiko Yosano and Misuzu Kaneko. Ms.Yumiko Morooka is an energetic cellist. Ms. Takako Doi and Ms. Teruko Yoshitake, not involved in the performing arts but are considered to be a type of expressionist, participated in the concert. Ms. Doi is a former politician and the first woman to become the leader of a political party and the Lower House Speaker. Ms. Yoshitake is a social critic concerned with women's issues.
This year, the event saw its 12th year and we invited the public to contribute. Three groups were chosen from the candidates. More than ten years ago when the Women's Performing Arts started there were very few women expressionists, and they didn't have much opportunity to perform. However, in recent years many expressionists, especially the young, are active in many fields. Given this circumstance the Dawn Center decided to invite the public to contribute and work together for our Women's Performing Arts event. "Project [u;]" is a group organized by members of Kansai Geijutsu Za theater company with the aim of teaching children the importance of peace. "Mangetsu Dobutsuen (Full Moon Zoo)" is a theater company whose members work in the corporate world in addition to being actors. Their plays are written and directed by men and performed by women. "Unit Bijin" is an all-woman theater company that focuses on creating laughs from a woman's point of view.
While adapting to a changing future, the Dawn Center's Women's Performing Arts will continue to support the various expressions of women.
(The Dawn Center Planning and Promotion Group,Ayumi Nishina)