The Mahabharata – Chapter of Desire / Chapter of Tempest – Notice of Postponement

It is with deep regret to announce the postponement of the July 4 – 7,2020 production of The Mahabharata – Chapter of Desire / Chapter of Tempest. As the director, I have spent the last eight years working towards this production. The decision was due to circumstances around COVID-19. At the moment, it is hard to tell when performers and audiences will be able to gather for safe and healthy production. Also, performers from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand were expected to arrive in Japan from April 21, however, travel to Japan has become nearly impossible, and even if they arrived they may be subject to quarantine. It became clear that the rehearsal process could not begin and we could not move forward as planned.

The new dates for The Mahabharata next year are not determined. We hope to hold it in conjunction with the summer Olympic games in 2021. The production was selected for the official cultural program of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Fortunately, that recognition will remain next year.

This postponement has brought on a serious financial challenge. Production was running at full speed towards July 2020. With new staff hired, fliers printed and the theater reserved, our decision to postpone resulted in a major financial loss. As a company, our funds are depleted. We are negotiating with the theatre for more support. As of now, they have agreed to refund 20% of the down payment.

However, more support is required for us to survive until next year. I sincerely hope I can reassemble the same team of artists, technical and production staff and volunteers who had come on board this year. When I think of everyone’s work my heavy head falls into my hands, but I must look ahead. Your support is vital for us to get back on our feet, and I would like to ask for your generosity and cooperation at this time.

In Japan, arts and culture are in a vulnerable position and humanity is precarious. I think that compliance has become stronger systematically. This system urges avoidance of responsibility. This situation will not change overnight, but in such an environment it is difficult to approach creation in the spirit of curiosity and interest. The process can feel like preparing for an exam, following logic and providing intelligible stories. Because there’s a tendency to seek comprehensible content, it’s harder to accept that there’s beauty to be found in mystery and complexity. And we may be losing our ability to question this situation.

The harmful effects of a system to avoid responsibility has begun to emerge through COVID-19 in Japan. To take responsibility is the strength of culture. Decisions are hard to make when avoiding responsibility and actions are taken in a rush. It is no surprise that the only declaration so far has been “to distribute two cloth masks per household.”

At the end of the day, there is only one way, forward. I will be turning to you for your support and advice, and I hope you will join me because arts and culture are vital to humanity.

Hiroshi Koike – April 2, 2020