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interdisciplinary theatrical production based
on the international best-selling novel by
one of Japan’s most celebrated writers,
Inspired by Murakami’s visionary style,
director Stephen Earnhart (formerly Director
of Production for Miramax Films) combines dazzling elements of live performance, live music, puppetry and dance/movement with cinematic video and audio technology to
create a hypnotic "theatre of dreams".
This cross-cultural play was developed in
New York and Tokyo and represents an international collaboration between Western
At once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of buried secrets from World War II, this surreal mystery follows an unassuming “everyman”, Toru, as he searches for his wife who's inexplicably disappeared.
Toru soon encounters a cast of strange characters, each with their own intriguing stories, who begin showing up in his dreams, opening doors to a hallucinatory world charged with sexuality and violence. As the lines between dreams and reality dissolve, Toru must confront the dark forces that exist inside him as part of his human nature.
One of Japan’s most renowned writers, Haruki Murakami’s work has been translated into forty-two languages, poising him to become the most widely read Japanese author outside of Japan of all times.
Widely expected to win the Nobel Prize in the next few years, Murakami’s many honors include the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize and the Yomiuri Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is considered his most important work.
Though Murakami writes about his native Japan, his characters’ struggle with contemporary urban loneliness and desperation to find intimate connections are universal. Because of Murakami’s exploding popularity and international interest in his work, as well as the intrigue with Japanese popular culture, this production has tremendous potential for both critical and popular success while offering a universally compelling and original piece of theatre.
THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE - trailer
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle employs a dynamic blend of theatrical elements to create a hypnotic “theatre of dreams”. The multiple realities of the narrative are realized by layers of projections, hypnotic soundscapes, puppetry, and choreography. Some characters only exist live on stage, others are trapped in the world of film, and some pass back and forth. Video projections and audio speakers surround the audience to enhance the immersive, sensual experience.
Tom Lee and his puppeteers experiment with mixing Western technique with Eastern tradition. In the dream world, the protagonist, Toru, is represented by a Bunraku-style puppet, a traditional Japanese puppet that requires three puppeteers to manipulate. Other storylines utilize shadow puppets and hand puppets of various size and scale. The puppets act as an emotional mirror, engaging the imagination while adding a sense of mystery.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle makes use of several cutting-edge projection technologies. Multiple video projectors cast images throughout the theater, using scrims, set pieces, hanging laundry, aquariums, bed sheets and actors’ bodies as non-traditional projection surfaces that emphasize Murakami’s dreamlike worlds.
As Creata Kano puts it, “Human existence is largely controlled by elements of water.” Wells, pools, oceans and sea life make up the play's central image system. Kumiko’s fixation with jellyfish is another central motif. Water and fog are used to accentuate the intangibility of Toru's world where the people and objects in his life constantly materialize and evaporate.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Click on links below to read full reviews:
"It is very provocative and very evocative, and it's very rich with meaning...so even though it's about the shadow-land between reality and non-reality, it's done so well...in the end, it is an original piece of work."
~ Paul Morley, BBC Link to Video
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