Aya Ogawa is a Brooklyn-based a writer, director, and Japanese-to English translator.
As a playwright and director, her play Serendipity was winner at Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival and finalist at Humana Festival. Eating Dirt was produced at SoHo Rep, and she directed it for Theaters Against War at HERE. She directed her play A Girl of 16 in its world premiere at the Flamboyan Theater, hailed by The New York Times for her “stunning visual sense.” She wrote and directed oph3lia (nominated for Outstanding Ensemble, New York Innovative Theater Awards) at HERE; Artifact was presented as a work-in-progress at the Prelude ’07 Festival as well as in the Performance Mix Festival. She was commissioned to create and direct a new piece with the Foundry Theatre and Adhikaar, a human rights organization dedicated to serving the Nepali community in the U.S., and the resulting work, Journey to the Ocean, was presented at the Ruben Museum. Most recently The Play Company commissioned and produced her play Ludic Proxy at WalkerSpace under her direction.
She has been commissioned to translate numerous Japanese plays into English, including works by Pappa TARAHUMARA’s Hiroshi Koike; Chong Wishin, Kunio Shimizu,Yoji Sakate, Kobo Abe, Takeshi Kawamura, Keralino Sandorovich and works by the Tokyo-based performance company YUBIWA Hotel. She has translated upwards of a dozen plays by Toshiki Okada, the writer/director for chelfitsch theater company, including Five Days in March, Air Conditioner, Enjoy, Free Time and The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise among others. Many of her translations have been published and included in collections of plays.
She is the recipient of an Artistic Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop (where she is now a Usual Suspect), Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, and HERE Artist Residency. She is also a recipient of the Space Grant at Brooklyn Arts Exchange and the Workspace grant, three Swing Space grants, and The President’s Award for Performing Arts from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She is a 2006 recipient of the Urban Artist Initiative Grant for Individual Artists administered by the Asian American Artist Alliance, a 2008 grantee of the NYSCA Individual Artist Theater Commissioning Grant and Axe-Houghton Foundation.
written by Toshiki Okada, translated by Aya Ogawa
From acclaimed Japanese director/playwright Toshiki Okada, Artistic Director of the internationally-lauded chelfitsch Theatre Company, comes a chronicle of post-college ennui and 21st Century relationships in Japan's Lost Generation. The static lives of several self-obsessed GenX comic book store clerks are thrown out of balance by the presence of a younger female co-worker, who rightly makes them question the meaning of their lives in a shifting socio-economic landscape. Written in the hyper-colloquial style Okada has become famous for, this play is presented for the first time in English in a translation by Japanese American playwright Aya Ogawa, and was met with massive critical praise upon its New York premiere.
Translation commissioned by The Play Company, directed by Dan Rothenberg and premiered at 59E59, NY (April 2010).
"Mr. Okada, with the help of a very deft translation by Aya Ogawa, makes sure that even if it take a while to communicate a thought, a mood of indulgence and despair emerges clearly." - The New York Times
"Aya Ogawa’s effortless, idiomatic translation (surely the process of rabbinical focus)..." - Time Out New York
"Although it maintains its otherness, the beautiful translation by Aya Ogawa makes effective use of American colloquialisms and rings utterly true." - Theatre Is Easy
THE SONIC LIFE OF A GIANT TORTOISE
written by Toshiki Okada, translated by Aya Ogawa
SONIC LIFE probes the everyday lives of urban adults. Everything seems comfortable – jobs, relationships. But beneath the surface runs a powerful undercurrent of longing. Through dreams and day dreams, with actors fluidly moving in and out of characters, this intimate play points at a deep dissatisfaction towards modern life and a desire for extraordinary experiences.
Produced by The Play Company, directed by Dan Rothenberg and premiered at JACK, Brooklyn (May 2014).
"CRITIC'S PICK. A reverie of a play." - The New York Times
"These are the serious questions, and I, like the characters may be sleeping through them. In those moments, the play feels like a knife in the gut." - Time Out New York
"Toshiki Okada is the Thornton Wilder for the Google generation." - NY Theatre Now
Set in Chernobyl, Fukushima and underground New York in the future, Ludic Proxy is a multi-lingual, multi-media and interactive play exploring the memory, reality, and the future of humankind in a world in which nature and technology are spinning out of control. In Act One: The Past, Nina becomes obsessed with a video game when she recognizes its setting as her hometown Pripyat, abandoned after the Chernobyl crisis. In the second act, The Present, Maki, a pregnant woman living in the outskirts of the Fukushima nuclear evacuation zone is torn between abandoning her hometown and saving herself and her child. In Act Three: The Future, a woman contemplates her own mortality and possible progeny, unable to imagine a hopeful tomorrow within a technology-saturated underground future world. In Russian, Japanese and English, with English subtitles.
Commissioned by The Play Company, directed by Aya Ogawa and premiered at WalkerSpace, NY (April 2015).
"Ambitious. Beautifully conceived. Ms. Ogawa has big ideas, both in terms of the writing and how to stage it. The play shows how the simulated can adjoin, infuse or ultimately replace the actual." – The New York Times
"BEST BET! Acute and aesthetically arresting. Not just an experience of theater but an experience of witnessing what it is like to be alive. You’ve gotta go." – Theatre is Easy
"Ogawa’s writing is enchanting and poetic, deeply in tune with the spirit of many different cultures. Spectacular design work." – New York Theatre Review
A young Japanese woman comes to New York City, a complete stranger, and embarks on a mysterious journey through her memory and the anonymous city. Expatriated students in an international Christian girl’s school in China have formed their own insular hierarchy within the school walls. In the world of entertainment production, cultures clash in a theater producer’s office and the translator bears the brunt. Through three disparate, interweaving stories of disjoint and disconnection oph3lia examines the archetype and themes emerging from the character of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a contemporary and international context.
Directed by Aya Ogawa and premiered at HERE, NY (May 2008).
"Oph3lia pulled together so many things people talk about – globalization, technology, post-modern identity, art vs. commerce, alienation of modern society, the challenges of human interaction and intimacy, the search for connection and meaning – and wove them into this beautiful, heart-breaking, hilarious, world-unto-itself. You MUST GO SEE THIS SHOW!" - Culturebot
"Compelling…Harrowing…What to make of the strange, feral dances the schoolgirls engage in, while singing their wordless songs? What of the playwright and the producers, riotously alive and bursting with their own stories and concerns? Both make for great theater." - The New York Times