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KAZUKO WATANABE (Japan/Germany)
"Underground"

based on writings by Haruki Murakami
Venue: Shell of the future Reichstag U-Bahn station

In March 1995, the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo released lethal serin nerve gas into the Tokyo underground, leaving 12 people dead and thousands injured. It proved to be a major traumatic experience for Japanese society, not only shaking Japan's core beliefs but also ushering in an era dominated by a new kind of terrorism with a vision of utterly destroying modern city life. In his study of the serin attack, leading Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami tried to trace the reasons behind the action, listening and recording victims and investigating the background and perspectives of the perpetrators. As he said, "If the 20th century was the century of world wars, the 21st century may prove to be the century of an 'underground war' between 'closed intellectual systems' and 'open intellectual systems'".

Taking Haruki Murakami's work as an initial impetus, Berlin-based director and stage designer Kazuko Watanabe has developed a multi-media theatre project, focusing entirely on the sensory reception of the turning point, or breaking point, such an act of terror represents for society - for the victims, their relatives, and those only confronted with it in press reports. In three sections, she links the world of Berlin today with the gas attack and life "after Day X" in Tokyo - a life scarred physically and psychologically by this experience of violence. She uses walk-in installations, video-generated mass images and the intensity of a single human voice to reach the viewers at her performance venue in the shell of the future Reichstag underground station, taking them on an emotional roller-coaster ride from carefree everyday life to the experience of terror.

A co-production by Media Pool and the House of World Cultures, financed by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds; in cooperation with the UdK and the Humboldt University, and with support from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Tokyo.

Underground: The poster as pdf-download

© Anita Back

© Anita Back

© Anita Back

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Underground
Multimedia
Director: Kazuko Watanabe

Kazuko Watanabe, born in Sendai/Japan, grew up in Tokyo. She came to Germany in 1972, having first attended a fashion school in Vienna. Initially, she designed costumes for Achim Freyer, Claus Peymann, Axel Manthey, Christoph Nel and Peter Palitzsch. From 1978, she worked as a freelance stage and costume designer and was involved in a range of projects, including ones for George Tabori, B.K. Tragelen and Volker Hesse at the Munich Kammerspiel, and for theatres in Bochum, Bonn, Düsseldorf and Basel. In 1988, she debuted as a director with Joshua Sobol's "Sylvester 72" and since then has staged around 25 plays and 17 operas. In 1998, she was invited to take part in the key German-language theatre festival Berliner Theatertreffen with her production of "Stecken, Stab and Stangl". Today, Watanabe lives in Berlin and teaches there at the University of the Arts (UdK).

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