Earthquake relief, one year later: "Shinsai: Theaters for Japan"

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On March 11, 2011, hot on the heels (so to speak) of a devastating 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami, the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl made Fukushima, Japan a household name. And just like previous mega-disasters such as the Sumatran tsunami of 2004, and the 2010 quake in Haiti, Japan’s unexpected and devastating crisis drew attention and support from across the globe.

One year later, with an estimated 300,000 people still homeless from the combined natural and unnatural disasters that shook the Fukushima prefecture, it appears that the crisis is far from being over. Inspired by an impromptu fundraising effort spearheaded by New York-based, Japanese-born actor James Yaegashi, a unique memorial will take place Sun/11 in theaters across the United States.

Entitled “Shinsai,” which means “great earthquake,” the structure of the performances is up to the individual participating theatres — a tactic utilized by the roving world premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Plays — the common material a series of exclusive ten-minute shorts penned by some of the greats of both the American and Japanese Theatre Scene: Toshiro Suzue, David Mamet, Edward Albee, Oriza Hirata, Philip Kan Gotanda and Parks, to name but a few.

Two San Francisco playhouses will host their own versions of Shinsai. Theatre of Yugen will present works by Gotanda, Parks, Naomi Iizuka, and others as well as special dance performances by Heather Law and Las Japonesas Flamencas. American Conservatory Theater will host readings of several of the works with a lineup of eight Bay Area actors and seven directors, including Anna Ishida and Evren Odcikin. All proceeds will go to the Japan Playwrights Association, to fund the rebuilding of infrastructure supportive of theatre artists in the affected regions. Developed by Theatre Communications Group, this event has the potential to remind us both of the importance of the arts within any given society, and that of any given society upon the global stage.

Sun/11, 5:30 p.m., $15

Theatre of Yugen, NOHspace
2840 Mariposa Street, SF
(415) 621-0507
www.theatreofyugen.org

Sun/11, 7 p.m., $5

American Conservatory Theater
415 Geary, SF
(415) 749-2228
www.act-sf.org

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