Japan for Sligo via W.B. Yeats and Ernest Fenollosa

Embassy of Japan in Ireland

Yeats Foundation


04  November 2015

Japan for Sligo via W.B. Yeats and Ernest Fenollosa

With the support of the Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Japan in Ireland, and in collaboration with Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, The Model, the Centre for East Asian Studies & Research of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, the Yeats Society of Sligo and Sligo Institute of Technology, the Yeats Foundation of Sligo is organising from 10 to 13 November 2015 a four day festival dedicated to the influence of Japan on W.B. Yeats and on Sligo, past and future.

One hundred years ago Yeats learned about Japanese theatre through his contact with the manuscripts of Ernest Fenollosa’s work on Noh and through his meeting of the Japanese dancer and choreographer Michio Ito. The result was, as Yeats wrote at the time, that he “invented a form of drama”. The first example was his play At the Hawk’s Well. Yeats was already well-acquainted with Japanese art through his collaboration on set design with Edward Gordon Craig and Pamela Colman Smith. Fenollosa had been one of Smith’s teachers and she shared his esthetic with Jack B. Yeats and with Lily and Lolly Yeats.

It could be said that the Yeats family’s contact with Japan a century ago led to the globalisation of their work. A hundred years later we have an opportunity to consolidate Sligo’s contacts with Japan in order to renew the globalization of Sligo.

To this end the festival will begin with a contemporary performance inspired by a verse by W.B. Yeats. Composer and musician Mr Trevor Knight, together with artist Ms Alice Maher and the Japanese butoh choreographer and dancer Mr Gyohei Zaitsu will present “A Skein Unwound …”at 20.00 on Tuesday, 10 November at The Model (10€ entry fee). This new work of art, especially created for the festival, demonstrates the continuing vitality of collaboration between Irish and Japanese artists.

Yeats was influenced by Japanese theatre but his own work has also influenced contemporary Japanese theatre. At 20.00 on Wednesday, 11 November, Prof Masaru Sekine, theatre director and Yeats scholar, together with the producer Ms Noriko Kawahashi, will present his opera “Hone-no-yume”, based on Yeats’ play “The Dreaming of the Bones” at The Factory Performance Space (free of charge).

At 20.00, on Thursday, 12 November, at The Factory Performance Space (free of charge), under the heading of “Japan for Sligo via Yeats and Fenollosa”, Prof Sean Golden will make a multimedia presentation of the multiple links between the Yeats family, Sligo and Japan.

The festival will culminate at Sligo Institute of Technology at 13:00, on Friday, 13 November, with a Brainstorming Workshop convened by Prof Vincent Cunnane, President of IT Sligo, for the purpose of outlining a strategic plan for increasing and consolidating relations between Sligo and Japan (by invitation).

Mr Chihiro Atsumi, Ambassador of Japan celebrated, “I am very happy that a series of events related to Yeats and Japan will be held this November to offer people the opportunity to learn more about the Japanese influence on Yeats”, and continued, “I hope that people all over Ireland will deepen their interest in Japan and its culture, and that the close connections between Japan and Ireland will go from strength to strength in the years ahead”.

For the latest information see below:

Blue Raincoat: http://www.blueraincoat.com/

The Model: http://themodel.ie/music/a-skein-unwound

Yeats Society: http://www.yeatssociety.com/




Prof. Dr. Sean Valentine Golden, Project Director, Yeats Foundation

Tel: +34 9 3581 1375, 087 – 611 2371, E-mail: sean.golden@uab.cat

Press and Cultural Affairs Section, Embassy of Japan in Ireland

Tel: 01 – 202 8305, E-mail: cultural@ir.mofa.go.jp, Website: http://www.ie.emb-japan.go.jp/itprtop_en/index.html