An unprecedented effort will take place on Sunday, March 11 when New York City's leading theatre companies, including Atlantic Theater Company, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, The Play Company, Playwrights Horizons and The Public Theater, will join forces to present Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a two performance benefit to raise funds that will go directly to Japanese theater artists devastated by last year's great earthquake (Shinsai). Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, will be performed for two performances only at 3pm and 8pm at the Great Hall at Cooper Union (Seventh Street at Third Avenue).
The New York performances of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan will be just one of many presentations taking place on March 11, the first anniversary of the quake, at regional theatres throughout the United States. All proceeds from the performances that day around the country, will be sent from the Dramatists Guild Fund to the Japan Playwrights Association, who will in turn distribute the monies to those members of Japan's theatre community who were stricken by the earthquake.
Under the direction of Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher, a company of over a dozen actors will perform a series of ten minute plays and musical numbers by an eclectic group of award-winning American and Japanese writers and composers including Edward Albee, Shoki Kokami, Oriza Hirata, Richard Greenberg, John Guare, Kumiko Shinohara, John Kander, Fred Ebb & Joseph Stein, Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori, Nen Ishihara, Toshiki Okada, Toshiro Suzue and Yoji Sakate. Playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda, Richard Greenberg, Suzan-Lori-Parks, Naomi Iizuka and Doug Wright will contribute original work to the benefit which will also feature a segment from the 1976 musical Pacific Overtures revised especially for the occasion by its creators librettist John Weidman and composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Casting for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan will be announced at a later date.
Shinsai (SHEEN-sigh) means great quake in Japanese. The genesis of the event began shortly after the disaster when actor James Yaegashi, whose family is from a nearby area, called friends in New York theatre to say "We as a theatre community have to do something to help our fellow artists on the other side of the world." This galvanized the various theatre professionals to whom Yaegahsi reached out who in turn joined forces with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Cooper Union, Dramatists Guild Fund, Japan Playwrights Association, Japan Society, The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and Theatre Communications Group to present this nation-wide effort
Tickets to Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, priced at $25 for each performance, will be available beginning Wednesday, February 8 at The Public Theater box office (425 Lafayette Street), by phone at (212) 967-7555 or by visiting www.publictheater.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos