With its anti-acting aesthetic, hipster vernacular, and unexpected choreography, Tokyo-based chelfitsch has secured its place at the forefront of the contemporary performance scene. In Five Days in March, two young concert-goers meet and hook-up, spending five inconsequential days of sex, drinking, and indolence in a Tokyo love hotel, while war is being declared in Iraq. The Museum of Contemporary Art
(MCA), Chicago, presents chelfitsch: Five Days in March, Friday-Sunday, February 20-22, 2009.
Five Days in March is set in March 2003 during the first days of the U.S. military strikes in Iraq, precipitating Japans first involvement in international conflict since 1945. Even while war protests fill the streets outside their Shibuya love hotel, the characters remain isolated and detached from the world at large, a trend in Japan known as hikikomori that, in its most serious form, describes teenagers who sequester themselves in their parents homes for more than a dozen years.
Performed in Japanese with English supertitles, the characters actions are told, rather than acted out, while they perform a distinctive choreography of exaggerated gestures that are often a curious dislocation between their words and their actions. Praised for challenging the conventions of traditional theater, writer and director Toshiki Okada has garnered attention from the contemporary dance world and won the 49th Kishida Kunio Drama Award, Japans most prestigious theatrical accolade, for Five Days in March.
In 1997 Okada founded the theater company chelfitsch, taking its name from a babys mispronunciation of the word selfish as a reflection of his view of his generations failure to cope with coming of age. A playwright, director, and novelist, Okada is known for his stylized scripts, wherein he uses super real verbal Japanese and unique body movement, in which he builds choreography from exaggerated gestures. In 2005, Okada won the 49th Kishida Kunio Drama Award and the Yokohama Award for Art and Cultural Encouragement. Okada was a finalist for the Toyota Choreography Award 2005 for defying the conventional idea of choreography. In 2006 he represented Japan at the Stuecke'06 International Literature Project, and in December of the same year his work Enjoy was performed at New National Theatre in Tokyo. He served as the director for 2006-07 Summit, an annual drama festival hosted by the Komaba Agora Theater. Okadas collection of novels The End of the Special Time We Were Allowed (Watashitachi ni Yurusareta Tokubetsu na Jikan no Owari), which includes of the novel version of Five Days in March and his first novel Our Many Places (Watashitachi no Basho no Fukusu), was published in February 2007 and was awarded the Kenzaburo Oe Prize.