No matter the season, Japan House provides spaces for quiet contemplation.
Typically relegated to the pit underneath the Tryon Festival Theatre stage in Krannert Center, the orchestra for operas and musical theatre productions rehearses aboveground.
Nick Offerman—Illinois Theatre alumnus, actor, comedian, writer, and producer best known for his roles on Parks and Recreation and Fargo—is also a carpenter and mentee of Professor Emeritus Shozo Sato. Offerman credits Sato with the discipline, mindfulness practice, and training in kabuki theatre that have enabled him to thrive as a creator and performer. In 2013 he constructed a gazebo (azumaya) on the grounds of Japan House to honor his mentor.
Covering two square blocks, Krannert Center was designed by Max Abramovitz, a graduate of Illinois Architecture who also was responsible for the domed State Farm Center (known as Assembly Hall when Krannert Center was completed in 1969) and the columnar David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall and originally Philharmonic Hall) at Lincoln Center in New York.
To accurately capture the setting of a play, costume designers, set designers, and properties masters extensively research appropriate clothing styles, materials, furniture, and accessories. Some pieces are sourced and purchased, some are created in production shops inside Krannert Center, and others are located among the thousands of items in storage.
Each summer Japan House hosts Matsuri, a festival highlighting culture, food, arts, and traditions plus—of course—fun for everyone.
Photo by Darrell Hoemann