Theatre of dreams

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle employs a dynamic blend of theatrical elements to create a hypnotic “theatre of dreams”. The multiple realities of the narrative are realized by layers of projections, hypnotic soundscapes, puppetry, and choreography. Some characters only exist live on stage, others are trapped in the world of film, and some pass back and forth. Video projections and audio speakers surround the audience to enhance the immersive, sensual experience.


Tom Lee and his puppeteers experiment with mixing Western technique with Eastern tradition. In the dream world, the protagonist, Toru, is represented by a Bunraku-style puppet, a traditional Japanese puppet that requires three puppeteers to manipulate. Other storylines utilize shadow puppets and hand puppets of various size and scale. The puppets act as an emotional mirror, engaging the imagination while adding a sense of mystery.


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle makes use of several cutting-edge projection technologies. Multiple video projectors cast images throughout the theater, using scrims, set pieces, hanging laundry, aquariums, bed sheets and actors’ bodies as non-traditional projection surfaces that emphasize Murakami’s dreamlike worlds.


As Creata Kano puts it, “Human existence is largely controlled by elements of water.” Wells, pools, oceans and sea life make up the play's central image system. Kumiko’s fixation with jellyfish is another central motif. Water and fog are used to accentuate the intangibility of Toru's world where the people and objects in his life constantly materialize and evaporate.