9 – 19 June 2022 in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Düsseldorf, Cologne + Essen

Satoko Ichihara
Madama Butterfly – an international rewrite with Yellow Butterflies, Avatars and Sailor Moon

First performed in 1904, the opera 'Madama Butterfly' tells the story of a geisha who marries an American officer and takes her own life when he leaves her for a new, American wife. Satoko Ichihara uncovers the racist and sexist clichés in this work and transposes the story to a world of wild fantasy.

16.06.22 21:00–22:45 Ticket Schedule 18.06.22 21:00–22:45 Ticket Schedule

Ringlokschuppen Ruhr
Language: Japanese, English, German with German and English surtitles

16.06. 18:30: Introduction to the theme of the production with Akiko Okamoto (curator) and Wilma Renfordt (Impulse Theater Festival)

© Philip Frowein
© Philip Frowein
© Philip Frowein

Curtain up, projections on: in an unsettlingly sombre fairy-tale world, the actor Kyōko Takenaka speaks to avatars ranging from Sailor Moon to the Portuguese missionary about the inferiority complexes of Japanese women in the face of western ideals of beauty. Is bearing the child of a gaijin, an American stranger, the solution? The international cast becomes involved in a passionate argument about desire from exoticism to self-betrayal, about American dicks and the beauty of manga girls and the Virgin Mary.

Packed with humorous images and combative debates, eccentric characters and disjunctions from pop culture: Satoko Ichihara’s first production outside Japan combines unexpected images with unsparingly direct words.


Text, direction: Satoko Ichihara
Dramaturgy: Tine Milz
Stage and costume design, Kostüm: Stefan Britze
Video art, avatars: Juan Ferrari
With: Yan Balistoy, Brandy Butler, Sascha Ö. Soydan, Kyōko Takenaka
English translation: Aya Ogawa
Interpreter: Kanoko Tamura
Assistant director: Sarah Calörtscher
Assistant stage design: Umaj Barth
Video hospitance, animations: Sara Bissen
Production management: Stéphane Noël (Materialise)


A commission by Theater Neumarkt, Zurich, Makiko Yamazato for Q Theatre Company, Tokyo. A co-production by Q Theatre Company, Tokyo, Zürcher Theater Spektakel and Theater Neumarkt, Zurich. With support from the Kinosaki International Arts Center, Toyooka, and the Arts Council Tokyo.


Yan Balistoy was born on a volcanic island in the Pacific the day Kurt Cobain died, grew up in the desert and now happens to live in a city by the Alps. His eyes are brown, or light green. During his school years, he played several instruments and was also active in a number of choirs. When he completed his Abitur, the Philippines were third in the world on the danger list for natural disasters. After failing to complete a psychology course, he studied acting at Zurich University of the Arts and spent his studio year at Theater Oberhausen. His star sign is considered particularly compatible with Leo, Aquarius, Gemini and Sagittarius. Since his exchange with the Teatro de Escola in Sao Paulo he has a particular interest in multicultural aspects of the theatre and the way gender roles are treated on stage. Yan is conspicuous for his ability as a musician and dancer: rhythm is a dancer. He plays several instruments and writes his own songs. He released his debut album ‘Wólang Wólang’ in 2020. He has been a member of the ensemble Theater Neumarkt since 2021/22.

Brandy Butler was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in the year the first World Climate Conference was held in Geneva and Sony put the first Walkman on the market, joining John Updike, Keith Haring and Taylor Swift on the long list of daughters and sons of the Pretzel City. She soon discovered a love of music, growing up in a family that loved musicals, soul and jazz. In 1997 she moved to Philadelphia to study Jazz Music at the University of the Arts. After completing her bachelor’s degree in 2001, she started teaching music to children. In 2003, when the third Gulf War and the first SARS pandemic broke out, Brandy spontaneously decided to take a break and travel to Switzerland to work as an au pair. She now lives in Zurich with her daughter and is a soul singer, performer and activist. She performs together with musicians such as Sophie Hunger, Erika Stucky, Sina and Steff la Cheffe. She completed her MA in Music Pedagogy at the University of the Arts (ZHdK) in 2010 and two years later took part in the casting show ‘The Voice of Switzerland’, with which she became known to a wider public in Switzerland. She has performed in theatre productions by Christopher Rüping at the Zürcher Schauspielhaus and Münchner Kammerspiele. Since 2019 she has shown children freedom of identity in ‘Drag Story Time’ and freedom of thinking with the ‘Free Thinkers Academy’.

Juan Ferrari is an artist, designer, programmer and scenographer, who was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1989. He began his career in the technology and audio-visual fields and started working with Artificial Intelligence in 2013. He studied Art and Design at FHNW in Switzerland and his works have already been shown at documenta as well as in Italy, Brazil, Uruguay, France, Great Britain, the USA and Hong Kong. Far removed from a Manichean vision of technology, he emphasises the meaning that human subjectivity gives to digital technology and the relationship that it creates between them. In a society where technological development is advancing ever faster, his work invites us to reflect on how we perceive the self and the other. As a transdisciplinary artist of displacement, he constructs his identity from movement. Deterritorialisation is the force that drives his artistic practice and his identity, closely connecting his work and his personal story. From inside to out, in a constantly moving flow of transformation.

Satoko Ichihara is a dramatist, director and novelist. After growing up in Fukuoka, Japan, she studied theatre at the J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. She has run the theatre company Q since 2011. She writes and directs plays that deal with human behaviour, the physiology of the body and the unease that surrounds these topics, and which employ her unique feeling for language and physical sensibility. In 2011 she was awarded the Aichi Arts Foundation Drama Award for her play ‘Insects’. In 2017 she was nominated as a finalist in the 61th Kishida Kunio Playwriting Prize for ‘Favonia's Fruitless Fable’. In 2019 she published her first volume of stories, ‘Mamito no tenshi’ (Mamito's Angel). ‘The Bacchae – Holstein Milk Cows’, based on the Greek tragedy, was premiered at the Aichi Triennale in 2019. She is a Junior Fellow of the Saison Foundation.

Akiko Okamoto has lived in Germany since 1996. She completed a Master’s degree at the Ruhr University Bochum, majoring in Film and TV Studies with subsidiary qualifications in Art History and Chinese, in 2007. She subsequently completed the course in ‘Curating in the Scenic Arts’ at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg in 2022. She lives and works as a freelance curator in Düsseldorf. She initiated the series ‘Nippon Performance Nights’ in 2013, and this has taken place consistently ever since at the FFT Düsseldorf. For this, Akiko Okamoto brings contemporary works from Japan and by Japanese artists living in Europe and Germany to Düsseldorf. Its programme focuses on the experimental performing arts.

Tine Milz, born in 1989, studied Political Sciences, Business Studies and Literature at LMU in Munich with study periods in Paris and Venice. From 2015 to 2018 she studied Dramaturgy and since 2017 Fine Arts at Zurich University of the Arts. She was a member of the art and performance collective KAPITÆL ZWEI KOLEKTIF, co-founded by Ersan Mondtag and others. She was a scholarship holder for the walk-and-talk programme at the Zürcher Theaterspektakel 2016. She has worked as a production dramaturg at Schauspiel Frankfurt and the Münchner Kammerspiele, been a jury member for the festival Politik im Freien Theater and serves on the Advisory Board of Therese Willstedt’s theatre in Växjö. She organises and conceives readings and performances and performs in a variety of projects.

Sascha Ö. Soydan is a German-Turkish actor. She studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin. She made her film debut in 1995 in ‘Novalis – Die blaue Blume’ directed by Herwig Kipping. Since then, she has appeared regularly in TV series such as ‘Tatort’, ‘Der letzte Bulle’, ‘Schloss Einstein’ and ‘Alarm für Cobra 11 – Die Autobahnpolizei’. She is also known for films such as ‘Kebab mit Alles’ (2011) and ‘Kebab extra scharf!’ (2016). Soydan makes regular theatre appearances and has performed in productions at Schauspiel Frankfurt, Staatsschauspiel Dresden and the Heimathafen Neukölln, where she devised her own work. Soydan aroused attention in 2012 with the reading ‘Breiviks Erklärung’ directed by Milo Rau. In addition to working as an actor in film, TV and theatre, she teaches in the opera and theatre departments at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). She has been a full member of the Neumarkt ensemble since 2019/20.

Kyōko Takenaka was born in 1987. She graduated from the department of Performing and Visual Arts at Oberlin University in Tokyo in 2011. She continued her education in France in 2013, attending the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art Dramatique de Montpellier, where she was taught by Gildas Milin, Cyril Teste, Julie Deliquet, Robert Cantarella and Alain Françon. After graduating, she began working with the director Guillaume Vincent: ‘Songes et Métamorphose’, ‘LOVE ME TENDER’ and ‘Les mille et une nuits’ were primarily performed at the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe in Paris. In 2017–2018 she performed the solo ‘The question of Faeries’ by Satoko Ichihara, and in 2018 she appeared in the official programme at the 72th Festival d’Avignon with ‘Some of them had never seen the sea’, adapted by Richard Brunel. In 2020 she also acted in a project in Canada, ‘Violence’ by Marie Brassard. She holds a state diploma in Theatre Pedagogy and lectures at various Japanese universities on theatre in France with particular reference to the professionalisation of the actor.