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Leeds Playhouse to collaborate with Japanese arts centre as an official event of the Japan Season of Culture

Leeds Playhouse today announced the co-commission of a new play with ala, Kani Public Arts Center, for Spring 2020 as an official event of the Japan Season of Culture.

The play, titled Missing People by Pinter Prize-winning playwright Brad Birch, explores the similarities and mistranslations of a Japanese and British family thrown together through a cross-cultural marriage. Everything is not as serene as it seems as bubbling under the surface is a family in crisis at the loss of their Japanese son.

Leeds Playhouse and Kani Public Arts Center have had a creative relationship for over two decades, sharing cross-cultural working practices for staff and artists, offering an insight into each other’s sector-leading organisations. This is the first co-production the theatres have undertaken.

Chief Executive and General Director of Kani Public Arts Center Kisei Ei first discovered Leeds Playhouse after visiting Leeds in the 1990s.“I encountered the Playhouse when I first visited Leeds in 1998. I was greatly encouraged by the Playhouse’s serious community programmes in the midst of a period of time when I was advocating for regional community and theatre and the richness theatre can add to people’s lives”  he explains.

“Ten years later, I started running a theatre in a small city called Kani with a population of 100,000 having left my job as a university professor. My mission was to bring a big change to Japan’s theatre policies by “realisation of a regional theatre like the Playhouse”. Now, this mission is fulfilled and twenty years after my first encounter with the Playhouse, I am able to tackle and execute a Japan-UK co-production of Missing People. I am filled with deep emotion and infinite joy. By crystallising the DNA which the Playhouse and ala share onto the stage, I strongly hope that we can frame a message relating to social issues that both Japan and the UK will have to solve in the coming years.”

Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:“Five years ago the Playhouse and Kani Public Arts Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding, acknowledging our commitment to sharing best practice across continents. Five years on, I’m thrilled we’re able to produce a new piece of work together, demonstrating our cultural common ground despite being thousands of miles apart. The 2020 Japan Season of Culture is an apt time to showcase our nourishing international relationship; it’s a real pleasure to be able to share this brand new play with audiences both in Leeds and Japan.”

Missing People will be co-directed by Leeds Playhouse Associate Artist Mark Rosenblatt and Kani Public Arts Center Associate Director Nobuhiro Nishikawa.

The production will debut in Japan as an official event of the Japan Season of Culture in a series of public events aimed at building public support ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games. The Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad began in a 2017 ceremony in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district with performances fusing traditional arts with modern technology.

The production is supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Following its Japanese debut at the New National Theatre in Tokyo and at Kani Public Arts Center, Missing People  will play in Leeds Playhouse’s Courtyard theatre in Spring 2020, dates to be announced.

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Download BrochureAutumn / Winter 21
Download BrochureAutumn / Winter 21
Major funders
Arts Council England Leeds City Council The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation
Principal Capital and Families Partner
Caddick Developments
Principal Capital and Access Partner
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors