Performing Asia: Shank's Mare
Created by Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V, Shank’s Mare is the story of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space. Using traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry, video projection, and live music, the piece explores themes of life and death and how tradition is passed on.
After a sold-out run in New York and tour to Japan, Asia Society Texas Center welcomes this unique collaboration which won the 2016 Arlyn Award for Outstanding Design in Puppet Theatre. TimeOut NY gave the show five stars and wrote, “You simply won't see better puppetry anywhere nor a tighter braiding of methods old and new nor artists working so confidently at the peak of their craft.”
An additional performance on April 14 features the same program.
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About the Artists
Tom Lee is a puppet artist, designer and director who specializes in Asian inspired puppet theatre. He performed extensively as a puppeteer including in the Tony Award-winning War Horse on Broadway, in Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera and in Petrushka & Le Grand Macabre with the New York Philharmonic. In addition, he has designed and directed puppetry for theatre and opera including The Scarlet Ibis at HERE Arts Center, Saggitarius Ponderosa with The National Asian American Theatre Company and the stage adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. His recent work includes live feed video design for Dan Hurlin’s Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Bard Summerscape, American Dance Institute, Holland Festival). Mr. Lee has done extensive work in Japan with Japanese traditional puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V. They collaborated on Shank's Mare, combining traditional and contemporary puppetry techniques, video projection and live Western and Japanese music. www.tomleeprojects.com
Koryu Nishikawa V is the fifth generation headmaster of the 160 year-old traditional puppet theatre company, Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo (cart puppet theatre of Hachioji), designated an Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset by the Japanese government. This unique form of puppetry was developed by the first Koryu Nishikawa at the end of the Edo Era, in Hachioji, a suburb of western Tokyo. As a child, Koryu Nishikawa V received instruction in kuruma ningyo from his grandfather (Koryu Nishikawa III) and his father (Koryu Nishikawa IV). At age 23, he studied sanninzukai (three-person manipulation technique) with the Bunraku National Theatre. In September 1996, he received his stage name Koryu Nishikawa V, as the hereditary successor to lead Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. Koryu Nishikawa V teaches and directs for traditional puppet theatre companies throughout Japan and is a proponent of educating future generations about the kuruma ningyo form and its history. He has taught kuruma ningyo as a guest artist for The Swedish National Puppet Theatre Company, the Swedish Puppetry Institute and numerous companies and colleges in the Europe and America. In addition, Nishikawa’s company has performed in over forty countries, including the Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA) festivals in the Soviet Union, England, Belgium, India, Hungary and France. Other notable performances include the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, Belgian Music Festival, the Lisbon International Puppet Festival and the 2014 Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico. In 2000, Mr. Nishikawa participated in the Uruguay Theatre Festival, where he received the Florencia Sánchez Prize for best foreign performance. In 2004, Koryu Nishikawa was chosen as the Cultural Ambassador of Hachioji City and, in 2006, he received the Hachioji City Cultural Testimonial Award. Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo regularly performs with Shinnai Joruri Narrative Song master Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI, a designated Living National Treasure. Koryu Nishikawa V has led Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo for 30 years.
Bank of America is presenting sponsor of Performing Arts & Culture programs. Generous funding also provided by AARP, Nancy C. Allen, CNOOC-NEXEN, the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, The Clayton Fund, the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, Daikin, JGC Corporation, Kuraray, and Mickey Rosenau & Dr. Ellen Gritz. Funding is also provided from Friends of Performing Arts & Culture at Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming to Houston. This performance is made in collaboration with Tom Lee Projects.