Utsushi-e Troupe to Travel to LA, Boston, NYC, D.C.

posted on by Egan Loo
Motion color slides were predecessors to modern Japanese animation, cinema

The Minwa-za Company of Tokyo will be bringing the art of utsushi-e (magic lantern, or storytelling via light projection) to Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. from July 2 to July 10. Utsushi-e provided entertainment in the pre-film, pre-television era by moving color glass slides across a light beam — in a manner similar to later cel animation. Researcher Machiko Kusahara of Waseda University co-organized this performance troupe, which will open its American tour at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles on July 2. It will then travel to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts on July 6. The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York will next host the company on July 8. The final stop of the tour will be held at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. on July 10. (The 13th International Magic Lantern Convention wil take place in Washington on July 10-13.)

Kusahara is also asking for volunteers who can help transport the troupe and equipment between the three East Coast cities and volunteers who can accomodate six of the company members in New York or in Washington. Japanese-speaking people who can assist at the rehearsals at each cities are also needed. Volunteers can contact Kusahara via email.

More details about utsushi-e can be found at the Japanese government's Media Arts Museum website and at an online photo gallery. An video example of a black-and-white scene is available online.

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