Masanari Kawahara 川原正也 (US, b. Hiroshima, Japan, 1968) is a Butoh doer, theatre artist, puppeteer, and arts educator for all ages. Since 2010 he has transitioned to focus on movement and Butoh-based works exploring identity, memories, and the continuing theme of violence and healing. As a mover he recently performed in Lelis K. Brito’s A Binding Strangeness as part of Isolated Acts at red eye theater and Valerie Oliveiro’s SOFT FREEDOMS as part of MERGE at the Cowles Center (2022). His solo piece 8’46”(movement for healing), featuring a soundscape by Sho Nikaido, was performed as part of Offerings: BareBones 2020, and was recognized in StarTribune’s 2020 Artists of the Year edition. Previously Masanari was a member of the Butoh group Nenkin Butoh Dan led by Gadu Doushin, which received a 2015 Sage Award for outstanding dance ensemble for Fu.Ku.Shi.Ma (2014). Other dance projects include: Anthea Hamilton’s Cabbage Four Ways (2021) as part of Paradox of Stillness at Walker Art Center; Throw Open The Heavy Curtain (2018) by Sharon Picasso Projects; Census (2016) and Every Other (2015) by Aniccha Arts.
His most recent puppetry work, for which he was a co-creator and performer, is The Story of Crow Boy (2016/17/18) for In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) where he is an associate artist. Other notable collaborative works with HOBT include Make Believe Neighborhood (2018), Queen (2016), A Path Home: A story of Thich Nhat Hanh (2009/10) and Gotama: A Journey to the Buddha (2006).
Other recent stage works include ANAMNESIS (2021/22), Speechless (2017/18) by The Moving Company as an actor; The Oldest Boy (2016) at Jungle Theater, in which he was a puppeteer as well as the designer and creator of the title character, which was a puppet. He was also the performer, writer, and designer of the solo performance piece Little Boy (2014) which was commissioned and developed by Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision series.
Masanari is the director of Naked Stages Program and resident teaching artist at Pillsbury House + Theatre, and teaching artist for Upstream Arts working with preschoolers to elders. Masanari Kawahara is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow 2018-2019 and 2010-2011.