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Hamlet | Toilet

Yu Murai + Kaimaku Pennant Race

Presented by Japan Society

photo credits: Takashi Ikemura

“KPR is known for tongue-in-cheek, absurdist adaptations of Western masterpieces, dialogue brimming with puns and word play reflecting Japanese popular culture… and ultimately universal aspects of human endeavor.”

Number two or not number two? That is the question for Hamlet | Toilet, a hilariously nonsensical reimagining of William Shakespeare’s classic from Yu Murai, one of Japan’s “most innovative contemporary playwright-directors” (Asian Theatre Journal), and his fearless, full-body unisuit-clad Kaimaku Pennant Race Theater Company cast. KPR’s antic and highly stylized movement-based theater unerringly unearths moments of profound meaning amidst contrasting and maniacally zany waves of Japanese pop culture, potty humor and Elizabethan era tragedy. Following the company’s groundbreaking Romeo & Toilet and 2019’s unpredictable manga-meets-Macbeth Ashita no Ma-Joe, which turned Japan Society’s stage into a boxing ring, audiences won’t want to miss the North American premiere of Murai’s latest madcap Shakespearean innovation.


Wednesday, January 10 @ 7:30 pm*
Friday, January 12 @ 7:30 pm**
Saturday, January 13 @ 2:30 pm
Saturday, January 13 @ 7:30 pm
Run time: 85 minutes, no intermission
* Post-show reception with artists
** Post-show Q&A with artists


Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017

Japan Society’s Auditorium, in which Hamlet/ Toilet will take place, is accessible via elevator, and is equipped with wheelchair seating. Our performance of Hamlet/Toilet will be subtitled. Discounted ticket prices are available to any persons with disabilities.


Yu Murai established Kaimaku Pennant Race Theater Company in 2006 in Tokyo. Their first overseas tour in New York in 2009 successfully obtained good reviews and praise from The New York Times and Time Out New York. The Company’s unique spatial composition and staging, such as a huge toilet with 10,000 toilet paper rolls on the stage surrounded by a standing audience, as well as their gonzo street performances have been receiving reviews and gathering attention from all around the world. Their genre-bending view has been described as “hyper-nonsensical absurdist philosophical comedy” by director and translator Yoji Aoi, who has been assisting them as a translator and a dramaturg since 2015.


Support for the international travel of Yu Murai and Theater Company Kaimaku Pennant Race for Hamlet/Toilet is provided by The Japan Foundation.

Japan Society’s 2023 – 2024 season is made possible by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Major support is generously provided by Doug and Teresa Peterson and Hisamitsu America, Inc. Endowment support is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund, The John and Miyoko Davey Endowment Fund, and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with a leadership gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Nancy and Joe Walker, Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II, Dr. Jeanette C. Takamura, Estate of Alan M. Suhonen, and Friends of the Performing Arts. All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. is the official airline of the Japan Society Performing Arts Program. Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.