JapanFest 2017 is proud to announce the Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater at this year’s event!
Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater is the only Theater in the United States that performs the traditional Japanese puppetry known as “ningyo joruri” or Bunraku. The “bay” of the Theater’s name derives from the Bay State of Massachusetts, where the Theater was first organized, and from the “bei” (pronounced “bay”) of the Japanese word “Beikoku”, which means “America”, suggesting the Theater’s slogan, “Traditional Japanese Puppetry in America.”
The performers of the Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater have been trained in Japan by artists from the 170-year-old Tonda Puppet Troupe of Biwa-cho in Shiga Prefecture, northeast of the old capital of Kyoto, and the Imada Puppet Troupe and Kuroda Puppet Troupe–both more than 300 years old–of Iida City in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. Under the direction of Prof. Martin Holman of the Japanese Studies Program at the main campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater offers performances of pieces from the traditional Bunraku repertoire, as well as puppetry demonstrations and workshops.
In August 2004 and again in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater participated in the Iida Puppetry Festival, the largest theater festival in Japan devoted to the art of puppet drama. Bunraku Bay performers were honored to appear on the stages of the Imada Puppet Troupe and the Kuroda Puppet Troupe.
Besides appearances in Japan, Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater has performed at many venues in the United States, including the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; Williams College in Massachusetts; Bowdoin College in Maine; Austin College in Texas; the University of Chicago; the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida; the Orlando Puppetry Festival; the Japan Society in New York; the First Night Celebration in Columbia, Missouri; Brigham Young University; Penn State University; the University of Southern Indiana; the University of Missouri; as well as at the Theater’s former home at the University of Massachusetts. Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater also performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC in April 2005 and the Smithsonian Institute in 2007.