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Toshiki Okada
God Bless Baseball

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Toshiki Okada, God Bless Baseball Photo © Asian Arts Theatre (Moon So Young)

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Mr. Okada . . . is celebrated as a chronicler of Japan’s “Generation Y,” which grew up amid financial uncertainty.

About

Presented as part of IN>TIME Festival

In the odd and unmistakable logic of playwright-director Toshiki Okada, we get a sense for how Asians assimilate and change American exports: sports, pop culture, the military. This new play picks baseball as its central metaphor—that most American of games, which is surprisingly popular in Japan and Korea. Known for his uncanny critiques of the forces and tensions in our daily exchanges and body language, Okada dials in deeper by casting, for the first time, both Japanese and Korean actors. Inextricably connected, the Japanese actors play Korean roles and the Korean actors play Japanese roles, while America casts a shadow from the wings. God Bless Baseball features the visual design of multimedia artist Tadasu Takamine, who was part of Dumb Type’s now-legendary performances at the MCA.

In Japanese and Korean with English subtitles.

Images

Featured image

Toshiki Okada, God Bless Baseball Photo © Asian Arts Theatre (Moon So Young)

About the Artists

Toshiki Okada is known around the world as one of the most ground-breaking playwrights and directors in Japanese theater today. His works are intrinsically Japanese, emerging from a contemporary setting with particular idiosyncrasies, anxieties, and forms of expression. He formed the theater company chelfitsch in 1997—naming it after a deliberate mispronunciation of the English word selfish. Its plays are distinctive due to the ways they bring the intimacy of individual concerns into conversation with overshadowing issues, like the economic crisis or the cultural aftershocks of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Winner of the Kishida Kunio Drama Award, Japan’s most prestigious honor for playwrights, Okada was first introduced to Chicago audiences by the MCA six years ago with his work Five Days in March. Visit his website for more information.

Tadasu Takamine is collaborating with Okada to create the visual design for God Bless Baseball. He is one of the most provocative and irreverent video and installation artists working in Japan. Takamine’s performance and moving-image works engage almost masochistic levels of endurance and frequently focus on sexuality, humanity, and the body. He has exhibited extensively throughout Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as Australia, Latin America, and South Africa. Visit his website for more information.

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Illustration by Toshiki Okada

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Ruka Noguchi, God Bless Baseball

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Funding

Toshiki Okada's God Bless Baseball US tour is funded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal year 2015, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, The Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN Program, and the Asian Cultural Council. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Japan Foundation Asian Cultural Council National Endowment for the Arts

God Bless Baseball is commissioned by Asian Culture Complex–Asian Arts Theatre; coproduced by Asian Culture Complex–Asian Arts Theatre, Festival/Tokyo, and Taipei Arts Festival; additional commissioning support provided by FringeArts, Philadelphia; Japan Society, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland; and Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. Research and workshop support by Doosan Art Center in cooperation with Kinosaki International Arts Center, Steep Slope Studio, and Sample.