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The world's a stage.

NEW YORK CITY: Oriza Hirata, artistic director of Tokyo's Seinendan Theater Company, brought home some quiet news this past March to the Japan Society in New York City. "When Japanese soldiers went to Iraq, it was the first time in 60 years that Japan had participated in a war," Hirata says. His tongue-in-cheek historical parody, The Yalta Conference, recreates the February 1945 meeting at which Stalin, Churchill and a terminally ill Franklin Roosevelt determined the shape of the postwar world. "Israel and Palestine, the issue of North Korea--they all stemmed from Yalta," he posits. However, Hiraya, proponent of the influential little-theatre movement genre called "quiet theatre," noted that the Yalta play has no ideological message. He is more interested in dramatizing "the incidental talks that surround large monumental events"--which partly explains why three plump actresses satirically portray the Western world leaders. Visit www.seinendan.org.

TENGERU VILLAGE, TANZANIA: Under the guidance of Marianna Houston, director of education at Theatre Development Fund, and Stephen DiMenna, artistic director of MCC Theater Youth Company, 21 Tanzanian students from the Akeri Secondary School have been writing and performing theatre pieces that grew out of a one-week workshop called the Tanzanian Playwriting/Literacy Project. Last year, students wrote three short plays--a fable, You Can Never Kiss the Sun, about a brother and sister who climb Mt. Kilimanjaro; a celebration, This is My Africa; and a socially inclined play, Who Will Carry the Burden?, about the lack of opportunities for women.

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This July, DiMenna and Houston are returning to Tengeru Village, Tanzania and tripling their efforts, conducting three workshops at three schools with 60 students. "We will be bringing six theatre artists from New York and Los Angeles," says DiMenna. "It is not unlike the work that Cornerstone Theater Company has done, where they immerse themselves in a community and create original theatre, although we chose to work with young people. We learned from the Tanzanian ambassador to the United Nations, Augustine Mahiga, and his wife, Elizabeth, that there is a need to develop more independent thinking in their young people to balance the rigid post-colonial British education system."

SPOLETO, ITALY: Ping Chong, Tina Landau and John Jesurun, as well as Arben Kumbaro of Albania, Jean-Guy Lecat of France and Rina Yerushalmi of Israel, are the invited guest artists of the seventh La MaMa International Symposium for Directors, taking place July 18-Aug. 7, at La MaMa Umbria International, a restored 13th-century villa in Spoleto, Italy. See www.lamama.org.

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Title Annotation:Oriza Hirata; Stephen DiMenna, Marianna Houston train students
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:416
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