Yoshi Oida

Yoshi Oida is a charismatic Japanese actor and stage director living in France, where he has received the prestigious culture distinctions of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1992) and Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2007). He has a degree in philosophy from Keio University in Tokyo. In 1968, on the recommendation of Jean-Louis Barrault, he met with the world-renowned stage director Peter Brook. He then appeared as an actor in many of Brook’s stagings in various countries of Europe and America, including Orghast by Ted Hughes, Conference of Birds by John Heilfern, The IKS after a book by Colin Turnbull, Mahabharata as adapted by Jean-Claude Carriere, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat after a book by Oliver Sacks, Peter Brook’s theatrical experiment Qui est la? (Who’s There), and Tierno Bokar.
Oida has worked with other directors as well – with Jossy Wieler in Yotsuya Kaidan (The Ghost of Yotsuya) by Tsuruya Nanboku and with Simon McBurny in Shun Kin by Junichiro Tanizaki. He has also acted in many films, of which the most famous is Brook’s Mahabharata. The film The Pillow Book, directed by Peter Greenaway, was shown at the festival in Cannes. The Eyes of Asia, directed by J. M. Grilo, was shown in the competition in Locarno, while Felice, Felice, directed by Peter Delpeut, was selected for the Rotterdam Festival. Autumn Flowers, directed by Shunshuke Ikehata, received the Grand Prize at the Bénodet Festival in France, and for his performance therein Oida won the prize for Best Male Supporting Actor in the Mainichi Competition.
Also important are his writings, which reflect his profession as an actor: the books An Actor Adrift (1992), The Invisible Actor (1998), and An Actor’s Tricks (2008) have been published in many translations. Since 1975 he has been devoting himself also to theatrical stage directing. His productions are given by prestigious theatres and festivals such as the Burgtheater in Vienna, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, Berlin’s Schaubühne, and the festivals in Aldeburgh (Britain), Bregenz (Austria), and Aix-En-Provence (France). Besides many Japanese texts he has staged numerous works by European writers – for example Dante’s Divine Comedy in his own adaptation, Samuel Beckett’s End Game, Molly Sweeney by the Irish dramatist Brian Friel, The Misunderstanding by Albert Camus, and Autumn Dream by Jon Fosse.
He has treated many dramatic works in dance presentations: his ballet adaptation of Jean Genet’s play The Maids won the prestigious Time Out Prize as the Best Dance Show in London in 2002. He has created stagings of a whole series of musical works, for example Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde as arranged by Arnold Schönberg and Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise. He has also staged several operas, such as Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River and Death in Venice, Igor Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, Guo Wenjing’s The Village of the Wolf Club, Giovanni Verrando’s Opéra: Alex Langer, Philippe Manoury’s chamber opera La Frontiere and Verdi’s Nabucco.

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Update: June 2009