Mar 16, 2018
Apr 1, 2018

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence

Written and Conceived by Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun
Translation by Aya Ogawa

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Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence is a collaboration between Japanese playwright/director Takeshi Kawamura and American playwright/director John Jesurun. The project is conceived as a play written and directed in collaborative partnership by both artists. Written in corresponding chapters by each playwright, it combines two established artists of the same generation, both with distinct voices and significant work, in a deep creative conversation across cultures.

Performed in English.

Anastasia Olowin | Kotoba Dan | Claire Buckingham | Kyle Griffiths | Samuel Im

Production Manager: Caleb Hammond
Production Stage Manager: Katie Pedro
Lighting Designer: Jeff Nash

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Supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program.

Takeshi Kawamura is one of Japan’s leading playwrights and theatre makers with plays spanning three decades of contemporary theatre in Japan. His work explores the ways in which things are both remembered and forgotten socially, politically and culturally. He has written over 50 plays and received numerous awards including Japan’s prestigious Kishida Kunio Drama Award.

Obie and Bessie award winning theater maker John Jesurun has been a pioneering force in the use of media oriented live performance since his groundbreaking 1982 serial play “Chang in a Void Moon. As a writer, director and designer he has created challenging forms of narrative that question the dislocation and anxiety of contemporary perception. More online at

Claire Buckingham (Actor) is a Texas born, New York based actress. New York stage credits include: Shadowland Live!, Stopped Bridge of Dreams, Caligula Maximus (La MaMa E.T.C), Chang In A Void Moon (Incubator Arts), The House of Connelly (Barrow Group Theatre), Sakharam Binder (3LD), and Firefall (Dance Theatre Workshop). Film Credits include: Amish Witches (Lifetime), Moving Violation (Image Bearer Pictures), Abduct (Xavier Cha), The Ghosts (Sue de Beer),Casters (Erin Gould), and Planet X (Jacob Hensberry). BFA: NYU Tisch Experimental Theatre Wing.

Kotoba Dan (Actor) is very excited to join Distant Observer at La MaMa! She is originally from Japan, where she spent 12 years as an actor at Shiki Theatre Company. She moved to NY to continue her career as actress, director and acting coach. She studied at HB studio, which included The Uta Hagen Institute’s year-long Core Training. She also creates and leads workshops for processional actors both in Japan and New York. Her notable International credits include, West Side Story (Anita), Cats (Demeter), A Chorus Line (Sheila) and Contact (Wife). Thanks to the company, creatives, wonderful friends and family!

Aya Ogawa (Japanese to English Translation) is a playwright, director and Japanese-to-English translator for theater. The plays she created and directed include Ludic Proxy (The Play Company), Journey to the Ocean (Foundry Theatre), and oph3lia (HERE). She has translated numerous Japanese plays into English that have been published by Samuel French among others, and produced in the U.S. and U.K. She is a member of New Dramatists, a Usual Suspect at NYTW, an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) and recipient of the President’s Award, LMCC. Her latest project about failure will be shown on June 15 and 16 at BAX.

Anastasia Olowin (Actor) Off-Broadway: The Killer (Theatre for a New Audience), Other NY includes: A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds by Mac Wellman (NYTW), Mechanics of Love, Stitches, and Marie Marie Marlene (To-By-For Productions), You On the Moors Now, Set in the Living Room of a Small Town American Play, and Three Seagulls or MASHAMASHAMASHA! (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble), Plum de Force (The Bushwick Starr), Obedient Steel (Tugboat Collective), Obskene (The Talking Band), Target Margin’s Lab Series. Film/Media: Tourists (Nantucket, CAAM, NJFF), The Pressure, After Ever After Web Series. She is co-producer at To-By-For Productions, a film and theater production company dedicated to making work by women, for everyone. BFA: NYU Tisch, Experimental Theatre Wing.

Katie Pedro (Production Stage Manager) is Brooklyn based director, projection designer, and theatre maker. Directing: Monte, Tennessee (Exquisite Corpse Company), Fefu and Her Friends (Sarah Lawrence College), The Cherry Orchard (Dyckman Farmhouse Museum), Love Stories My Mother Told Me (Dixon Place). Video Design: A Circular Play, Marisol, And Then They Came for Me, I Will Be Gone. Katie also works as a collaborator with Michael Counts Projects. BS Russell Sage College. MFA Sarah Lawrence College.

The Saison Foundation

DISTANT OBSERVER was developed in Tokyo with support from the Saison Foundation and T Factory.

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Press photo from the show

Review: ‘Distant Observer’ Shifts Shape as Authors Take Turns

A “mesmeric, deadpan fever dream of a play…There’s a playful, volleying spirit to the whole endeavor — intriguing, endearing and odd.” – Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times logo

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence is a witty take on a murder mystery….strikingly presented, wonderfully performed” – Darryl Reilly,

New York Theatre Wire logo
press photo from the show

“Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence”

“The acting ensemble is virtuoso in maintaining rhythm, energy, pacing, and intelligibility while making switchblade changes in mood. They are riveting as they build this disparate vision of a world in disarray.” – Beate Hein Bennett, New York Theatre Wire

Special Event

Post-Show Talk Back

On Sunday, March 18th there was a post-performance discussion with the show’s creators:
Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun.
Moderated by Dr. Frank Hentschker, Executive Director of Programs. Martin E.Segal Theatre Center,City University of NY
Guest panelist Japanese Theater Scholar and Journalist Kyoko Iwaki