Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Shinsai: Theaters for Japan Photos: (8pm) with Oskar Eustis, Patti LuPone, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, John Weidman and more

Patti LuPone and Ann Harada. Photo by Lia Chang

Patti LuPone and Ann Harada. Photo by Lia Chang

On March 11, 2012, regional theater companies across the country presented Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a series of benefit performances to raise funds for Japanese theater artists devastated by last year’s great earthquake (Shinsai).

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, joined forces to present performances at 3pm and 8pm at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Seventh Street at Third Avenue in New York.

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater and His Excellency and Madame Shigeyuki Hiroki, Ambassador & Consul General of Japan in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater and His Excellency and Madame Shigeyuki Hiroki, Ambassador & Consul General of Japan in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) helmed a stellar lineup of artists.
Director Bartlett Sher. Photo by Lia Chang

Director Barlett Sher. Photo by Lia Chang


The cast of the 8pm performance featured Michi Barall, Joel de la Fuente, Angel Desai, Lisa Emery, Ann Harada, Jennifer Ikeda, Paul Juhn, Li Jun Li, Patti LuPone, Paolo Montalban, Olivia Oguma, Jeffrey Omura, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Henry Stram, Richard Thomas, Adria Vitlar and Johnny Wu.

The ensemble of actors performed a series of ten minute plays and musical numbers by award-winning American and Japanese writers and composers including Seascape by Edward Albee; Hassaku by Nen Ishihara; The Sonic Life of Giant Tortoises by Toshiki Okada; “Underwater” from Caroline, or Change, Book and Lyrics by Tony Kushner, Music by Jeanine Tesori; Abandon Home by Toshiro Suzue; A Problem of Blood by Yoji Sakate; and “Skin of Our Teeth” from the musical The Skin of Our Teeth, Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Book by Joseph Stein. Playwrights Naomi Iizuka (The Isabel Who Disappeared) and Doug Wright (A Guide to Japanese Etiquette), contributed original work to the benefit which featured a segment from the 1976 musical Pacific Overtures revised especially for the occasion by its creators librettist John Weidman and composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

Ann Harada, Johnny Wu, Angel Desai, Paul Juhn, Li Jun Li, Olivia Oguma, Jeffery Omura, Thom Sesma, Paolo Montalban, Sab Shimono and Adria Vitlar sing Four Black Dragons/Next. Photo by Lia Chang

Ann Harada, Johnny Wu, Angel Desai, Paul Juhn, Li Jun Li, Olivia Oguma, Jeffery Omura, Thom Sesma, Paolo Montalban, Sab Shimono and Adria Vitlar sing Four Black Dragons/Next. Photo by Lia Chang

With musical direction by Paul Gemignani, scenic design by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, lighting design by Donald Holder and sound design by Scott Lehrer.
The cast of Shinsai. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast of Shinsai. Photo by Lia Chang

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.
James Yaegashi and Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater. Photo by Lia Chang

James Yaegashi and Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater. Photo by Lia Chang


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 Yaegashi 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. The Dramatists Guild Fund is the fiscal sponsor for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, collecting donations on behalf of Japan Playwrights Association (JPA) through June 1, 2012 to help restore the conditions that surround the Japanese theater. Click here to donate now.
Ann Harada, Henry Stram, Lia Emery and Richard Thomas. Photo by Lia Chang

Ann Harada, Henry Stram, Lia Emery and Richard Thomas. Photo by Lia Chang


Sab Shimono and Pacific Overtures librettist John Weidman. Photo by Lia Chang

Sab Shimono and Pacific Overtures librettist John Weidman. Photo by Lia Chang


Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, James Yaegashi. Photo by Lia Chang

Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, James Yaegashi. Photo by Lia Chang


Click below for a slideshow of the 8pm performance.

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Photo Highlights of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan (3pm) with André Bishop, Mary Beth Hurt, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Philip Kan Gotanda, Thom Sesma, Sab Shimono, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders, and more

For additional information: visit www.tcg.org/shinsai. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SHINSAI-Theaters-for-Japan/286171358070366

James Yaegashi, Pacific Overtures' librettist John Weidman, director Bartlett Sher and musical director Paul Gemignani. Photo by Lia Chang

James Yaegashi, Pacific Overtures' librettist John Weidman, director Bartlett Sher and musical director Paul Gemignani. Photo by Lia Chang


Other articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: In Rehearsal with Director Bartlett Sher and the cast of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan
Thom Sesma, Patti LuPone, Cindy Cheung, Jennifer Lim, Sab Shimono, James Yaegashi and more set for Shinsai: Theaters for Japan Benefit on March 11 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York
Photos: BD Wong in Rehearsal for “Passing It On: An Evening of Mentorship to Benefit Rosie’s Theater Kids”
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
Angela Lin, director Bartlett Sher and Lia Chang. Photo by Peter Kim

Angela Lin, director Bartlett Sher and Lia Chang. Photo by Peter Kim


Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@backstagepasswithliachang.com.

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