Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Satoko Ichihara

Brandhaarden 2023

Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Satoko Ichihara

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam


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Artist Talks Brandhaarden: Satoko Ichihara
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

A look behind the scenes and conversations with the makers make the performance visit even more interesting. That is why ITA Academy organises a series of Artist Talks during Brandhaardens: in-depth discussions with inspiring makers about their work and working methods, motives, sources of inspiration and fascinations. Artist Talks take place after a performance by the artist in question and offer a deeper look at the work in a broader context.

Duration 45 minutes, after the performance
Location Pleinfoyer
Language English

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‘In the male–centric Japanese society, it is natural that women can’t help but experience a sense of anger just from the fact that they are women. However, when I started making theatre, there was no plan to write about women. And when I started writing about my physiological perceptions, the focus naturally became feminine, because I have a woman’s body.’

Satoko Ichihara (1988) made her debut as a writer and director with the production of Insects (2011) which immediately brought her worldwide attention. Ichihara is fascinated by human behaviour and the physiology of the body. She writes about urine, tears, sweat and the itching that follows an insect sucking your blood. She is fascinated above all with the metabolism and the changing form of particular substances. ‘The feeling of fluids leaving the body, thinking about where they come from and the sense of life force associated with them, those are things I love,’ she said in an interview.

She took ballet lessons as a child but she knew she could never become a perfect ballerina because she’s taller than average. She ended up studying theatre in Tokyo and in 2011 she set up her own theatre company, Q.-|-In 2019 she published a collection of short stories, Mamito’s Angel (2019), and took The Bacchae – Holstein Milk Cows to the Aichi Triennale in 2019, for which she won the Kishida Kunio Playwriting Prize. Her first novel, Geisha Hunter, was published in Japan in 2021. She became the artistic director of KIAC – Kinoskai International Arts Center in 2021 too. Her work has been performed in prestigious festivals including Theater der Welt in Duitsland and Theater Neumarkt in Zurich.

In her staging of Puccini’s renowned opera, Madama Butterfly, she rigorously reversed the perspective. Her criticism is focused not only on the division of roles between man and woman, but also on the Western ideals that have dominated art and the media for so long. Instead of looking with the gaze of the ‘superior’ Western man at the Japanese geisha, she lets us share in a Japanese woman’s experiences and how the latter looks upon a Western man.

Madama Butterfly