Kazuko Hohki is a London based artist, singer, musician, animator, director, performer, storyteller and theatre maker (phew!).
Originally from Japan, Kazuko moved to London from Tokyo in 1978. She founded London based Japanese cult-alternative pop performance group Frank Chickens with whom she has released 5 albums, toured worldwide and continues to perform with in London, most recently at the ICA, Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Centre, Royal Opera House and regularly appears as part of London’s annual Japan Matsuri festival. In 2010 Frank Chickens were awarded the Edinburgh Comedy God Award.
Following over 2 decades of success in music, film and TV, Kazuko has been making theatre since the late 1990s. Fusing idiosyncratic storytelling with multimedia, film, animation, interventions and original music, Kazuko has created several full-length performance works commissioned by UK venues including Battersea Arts Centre, MAC, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Bluecoat Arts Centre, Chelsea Theatre and Farnham Maltings.
Theatre and performance work includes a trilogy of solo theatre performances: Toothless, The Shining Princess and My Husband is a Spaceman, which toured the UK and internationally to America, Germany, Israel, Slovenia, Switzerland, Singapore, Netherlands, Canada and Malta to wide acclaim. Other shows include the Herald Angel and Total Theatre Award winning site responsive production Evidence for the Existence of Borrowers, outdoor promenade production Oh Doh and Kazuko Hohki’s Wuthering Heights, created for village hall touring. In 2011 Kazuko created her first performance work for children – the promenade interactive production The Great Escape – A Borrowers Tale, which has been presented across London including multiple seasons at BAC and Southbank Centre.
Other productions created over the last 4 years include Last Night I Dreamed I Was An Eskimo, a co-production with Nordland Visual Theatre which toured across Northern Norway, You Only Live Twice (But Die Once) for BAC’s One-on-One Festival, Tottenham Travesties (for Birmingham Repertory Theatre) and Incontinental, a new production for presentation in theatre, hospital and science settings, developed in collaboration with a Professor of Gastroenterology from University College Hospital London, and supported by the Wellcome Trust. Kazuko has also created Bee Dreaming, her own story telling space for Good Neighbour at Battersea Arts Centre. In 2014, Kazuko has worked with a local secondary school to create a site specific promenade show One Night Only produced by Jacksons Lane and has just finished Without Walls R&D project Grave Expectation presenting a show in the graveyard. She is currently developing a new theatre production – The Man from Fukushima for premiere in 2015.
Kazuko Hohki makes inter disciplinary performance work, inspired by and drawing on a range of artistic forms. At the heart of all of her work are a series of semi-autobiographical themes centred on her life as a Japanese Woman and Artist living in England, her relationship to an imagined England and her position as an outsider, alien, artist, and woman. Kazuko often adopts alter egos in her performance work, but these characters are always ‘Kazuko’ personas. Kazuko uses a mix of mediums including original music, song, video and animation in her performance work as she is interested in the process of creating hybrids – both to progress new forms of telling stories but also in an effort to overcome categorisation in the intercultural sense. She regularly collaborates with a series of key creative collaborators including Andy Cox, Clive Bell and Nao Nagai. Widely is recognised as the artist who coined the term ‘Scratch’ (introduced by BAC and widely adopted across the UK and international theatre sectors to refer to a process of sharing and evolving work in dialogue with audiences), Kazuko’s productions are developed over extended creative processes with work in progress performances shared with audiences at key stages in the creative development process.
Collaborations and Non Theatre Work
Kazuko also regularly collaborates with other artists and companies including Duckie, Clod Ensemble and Yellow Earth Theatre and has previously collaborated with Fashion Bus, Jonathan Stone, Ridiculusmus and Guillermo Gomez-Pena on new works.
Non-theatre work includes making a documentary feature called The Good Wife of Tokyo for Channel 4 with Kim Longinotto -about Japanese contemporary women, featuring Frank Chickens and her mother. The film was shown on Channel 4 TV (1993) and also at various international film festivals. She presented her own TV series Kazuko’s Karaoke Klub for Channel 4 in 1989. Her first radio drama S was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in December 2004, and she has contributed to a number of radio programmes including ‘Mapping Earth’ and ‘Woman’s Hour’ (both BBC Radio 4). She has also published four books in Japan about her life in London, and her work appears in the poetry anthology ‘Velocity’. She was a founder member of the cult performance group Japanese American Toy Theatre Of London.