Residency artists and researchers

Performing arts, performance art


physical theatre performance

A first draft development of ”Ianfu”. Fusing Eastern and Western performance styles, Ianfu will be a highly physical theatrical experience based upon untold women’s stories from World War II.

Our project is called “Ianfu,” a Japanese word meaning Comfort Women. It is a collaborative physical theatre piece based upon women’s stories from World War II.

During World War II, the Japanese military recruited and at times coerced and forced many Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Dutch and Australian women to work as ‘comfort women’ or prostitutes for the Japanese Imperial Army. The subject is still contentious in Japan, with the Japanese government reluctant to apologize for this policy in the face of international pressure.

The plight of these comfort women is a story which remains hidden among the other atrocities committed during the second World War. In fact stories of how war has affected the lives of women seem to take a backseat to those of the men who fought and died in battle. By shining a light on this shocking practice we hope to raise awareness of the suffering imposed upon women in times of conflict and to transcend our existing perspectives.

Our goal at the Saari Residence is to continue to develop the text of the piece. Based on the stories we have researched, we will weave multiple stories about comfort women into a cohesive narrative. The residency will provide time to explore the physical language by experimenting with elements of Eastern and Western performance styles. This physical language will then be applied in rehearsal of the work in progress. Ultimately we would like to complete a working draft of the piece, which can be presented and shared with other residency members. Our aim is to create a piece which is balanced, free of judgment, and which illuminates the humanity of these women who have been buried under the label of “Ianfu (Comfort Women).” By presenting a draft performance we hope to garner objective feedback, which can be incorporated to further develop of the piece.

The working group consists of Yuko Takeda, Tina Mitchell, and Paul Peers.
Yuko is a Japanese actress based in Helsinki, Finland. Tina Mitchell is an Australian actress based in New York City. Paul Peers is a stage director of opera and theatre also based in New York City.

Ianfu worked at the Saari Residence in June-July 2015.