Utervision Company (Japan)

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Core Team Artists: 

Erina Saji (Director/Performer)

Mari Motegi (Designer)

Eri Tomoi (Performer)

Kay (Performer)

Maki Maki (Performer)

Masao Miki (Choreographer/Dance Artist)

Yutaka Ota (Composer/Musician)

Moe Shoji (Overseas production manager and translator)

Established in 2011

The company’s name “Utervision” comes from the word “uter”, short for “uterus” in Latin which means “womb”, and “vision”. They aspire to create productions with the use of text, dance, music and puppetry that would provide new experience to their audiences and have dwelled to a more modern style of Japanese puppetry.

They have participated in festivals and workshops and performed in multiple countries outside of Japan such as the United Kingdom, France, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Romania, Nepal and many more. 

Their puppets are derived from the traditional bunraku theatre. They have small puppets manipulated by three puppeteers and life-sized puppets handled by one. The puppeteers are no longer seen wearing black, instead, oftentimes they match the colors of their puppets’ clothing. 

Past Performances

(Synopsis lifted from Utervision Japan website)

“Zenchitori” / “Utou”
Performed in 2011 Avignon Theater Festival d’Avignon 2011 (40 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Cast: Erina Saji, Makiko Nakamura, Masahiro Yoshino, Tamana Isozaki

An experimental work which plays with a variety of utterances of a single word, “utou”. This performance uses a large yet mobile set.
“Kanzeon”
Performed in 2012 Suginami Theater Festival and 2017 APOC Theater Solo Theater Festival (50 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Cast: Makiko Nakamura, Eri Tomoi, et al. 

A solo play about “death” and “life” that transcends time and space, inspired by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2016, the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and the Great Tokyo Air Raid in 1945.
“Ne-Bu-Ta”
Performed in 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (30 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji and Yurie Takata
Music by Yuuki Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Cast: Erina Saji, Yurie Takata, etc.

This work explored the theme of transmigration of the soul using the technique of physical theater and a paraballoon.
“A City with Monuments”
Performed in 2013 and 2017 (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Risa Hayashi
Cast: Erina Saji, Eri Tomoi, Mari Mogi, Masao Miki, etc.

This work was created collaboratively through a series of workshops with non-professional performers with various backgrounds. Workshop attendees created a piece of work from scratch using the five elements of text, music, design, choreography and costume. This work demonstrates that accepting one another without denying them can lead to enhancing creativity.
“Le petit roi”
Performed in 2014 Avignon Theater Festival (45 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Sakura Fujibayashi
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Erina Saji, Rikako Chiba, Eri Tomoi, Mari Mogi, Sakura Fujibayashi

Using a human-size bunraku style puppet, this work depicts the encounter between a middle-aged man and a tiny king. It was  recognized as “the most beautiful poetic event” at the festival.
“Tokyo / The human figure”
Performed in 2014 (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Sakura Fujibayashi
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Erina Saji, Mari Mogi, Sakura Fujibayashi, Masao Miki, Yutaka Ota, etc.

This work was created collaboratively through a series of workshops with non-professional performers with various backgrounds. Workshop attendees created a piece of work from scratch using the elements of text, music, design, choreography and puppetry. Multiple layers of narratives are created by transitioning from the world of human actors to the world of puppetry.
“Ango / Sakura”
Performed in 2015 Avignon Theater Festival (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Goe
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Tomoi Eri, Mai Ishikawa, Shingo Yoshizawa, Tomoko Katsuta, Chikako Shibasaki, etc.

Inspired by the work of Japanese writer Ango Sakaguchi entitled In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom. A large piece of white fabric is transformed into a puppet. It was an innovative attempt for the company to show the moment in which an object turns into a character.
“My Own Criminology: A Story of Adam and Eve”
Performed in 2015 (60 mins.)
Written by Shuji Terayama
Directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Sakura Fujibayashi
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Erina Saji, Masao Miki, Eri Tomoi, Yurie Takada, Chikako Shibasaki, etc.

Inspired by a theater piece by Shuji Terayama, this work used the technique of physical theater and puppetry. A dynamic puppet design and beautiful set design was acclaimed by many audience members. This performance was invited to the Iida Puppet Festival and Ishikawa Theater Festival as an official selection.
“Wardrobe – She is Gone –“
Performed in 2016 (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set design by Mari Motegi
Costumes by Nanase Furuta
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Erina Saji, Masao Miki, Eri Tomoi, Yutaka Ota, etc.

This work was created collaboratively through a series of workshops with non-professional performers with various backgrounds. Workshop attendees created a piece of work from scratch using the five elements of text, music, design, choreography and puppetry. Multiple layers of narratives and consciousness are created by controlling the relationships between human actors, puppeteers and puppets.
“Genji’s last love / Nouvelles orientales”
Performed in 2016 (20 mins.)
Original work by Marguerite Yourcenar
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Costumes by Nanase Furuta
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Erina Saji, Yutaka Ota, Eri Tomoi, Masayo Ishii

Based on the work by Marguerite Yourcenar’s The Tale of Genji, this work was adapted to a contemporary Japanese performance using puppets and Japanese music.
“Grandpa Pinocchio and Geppetto”
Performed in 2016 (40 mins.)
Original work by Carlo Collodi
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set design by Mari Motegi
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Cast: Tomoi Eri, Kubojima Asako, Ishii Masayo, Shibasaki Chikako

Specially developed for the company’s new project — children’s theater. This work is full of tricks and illusions like a circus act.
“Dahut and Gwenole”
Performed in 2016 (25 mins.)
Written and direction and puppet design by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Cast: Tomoi Eri, Shibasaki Chikako, Chiba Rikako, Hata Kaoru, Saito Yumiko

Specially developed for children’s theater, this beautiful piece combines shadow puppetry using and overhead projector and other forms of puppets.
“Kudan no Ken”
Performed in 2017 (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Cast: Erina Saji, Yutaka Ota, Masao Miki

Inspired by two Japanese literary works — Kudan by Hyakken Uchida and Kudan no Ken by Tengai Amano, this performance tells a story of a chimerical creature called “Kudan”, with the body of a bull and head of a human. To wait and to be waited. To anticipate and to be anticipated. Repeated events and repetitive landscape. A large circle and a small circle. Fragments of disparate imagery are offered to the audience to be interpreted in their own ways. Neither a play nor a dance piece, an enigmatic piece of work.
“Adventure of Sinbad”
Performed in 2017 Early Summer Children’s Concert in Fukui Prefectural Music Hall (60 mins.)
Written by Yasuhiro Kasamatsu
Direction, puppet and set design by Erina Saji
Cast: Aakio Otsuka, New Orient Music School, Erina Saji and 19 children from Fukui prefecture

Storytelling using music, physical expressions and objects especially developed for children.
“One day”
Performed in 2017 Hanoi ASEAN Puppet Festival (20 mins.)
Written, directed and designed by Erina Saji
Cast: Eri Tomoi, Erina Saji

The story of unusual day especially developed for children’s theater.
“Momo”
Performed in 2017 Yunlin International Puppet Festival (60 mins.) 
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Puppet design by Erina Saji
Set design by Mari Motegi
Cast: Tomoi Eri, Shibasaki Chikako, Hata Kaoru, Saito Yumiko, Nagamori Teruyo, Kubojima Asako, Inori Imamura, Ayano Matsamura, Maari Fujio, Erina Saji

Object theater using the modern bunraku style especially developed for children’s theater.

“The Night of the Milky Way Train”
Performed in 2018 Harmony World Puppet Festival in Phuket, Thailand (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Puppet and set design by Erina Saji
Set making assistang Mari Motegi
Cast: Eri Tomoi, Chikako Shibasaki, Kaoru Hata, Asako Kuboshima, Kei Shibata, Jun Negishi, Erina Saji
“Kandata”
Performed in 2019 (60 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji and Yasuhiro Kasamatsu
Music by Yutaka Ota
Puppet and Set design by Erina Saji
Set making assistant Mari Motegi
Cast: Yuko Kawabuchi, Hiroyo Miura, Erina Saji, Kei, Eri Tomoi, etc.
“Saint Exupery and the Prince of the Stars”
Performed in 2020 (55 mins.)
Written and directed by Erina Saji
Music by Yutaka Ota
Set Design by Erina Saji
Set making assistant Mari Motegi
Cast: Asako Kubojima, Hiroyo Miura, Kei, Maki Maki, Eri Tomoi, Kaoru Hata, Erina Saji

Contact details:

Contact Person: Erina Saji

Website: https://utervision-jp.jimdofree.com/

Address: 5-3-13-3I Toshima, Kita-ku, Tokyo 

Email: atorie.tane@gamil.com

Phone: +81 80-6687-6742

Resources: 

https://utervision-jp.jimdofree.com/

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2092.html

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2007/09/13/stage/look-inside-the-puppets-head/#:~:text=The%20heads%20of%20bunraku%20puppets,river%20water%20for%20several%20years.%E2%80%9D