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Rethink, Rebuild, Remember

February 24, 2012

Middlebury College Commemorates Japanese Disaster of 2011 with Suite of Cultural Events

Middlebury, VT—One year after the devastating earthquake that struck Japan, Middlebury College students, faculty, and staff will reflect on the anniversary with a series of cultural events, including theatrical readings, guest speakers, and a faculty panel discussion. The events, to be held between March 11 and April 5, will also raise funds for the ongoing relief efforts halfway around the globe.


The kickoff event will be “Shinsai: Theaters for Japan,” an afternoon of staged readings presented by Middlebury College’s Theatre Program and Potomac Theatre Project. Shinsai (pronounced SHEEN-sigh) means great quake in Japanese. This nationwide event was initiated by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre. Dozens of theatre organizations across America will perform a menu of ten-minute plays and songs on March 11, 2012. Many major American and Japanese artists. have donated their work for this one-day only event. The Middlebury Shinsai will include works by playwrights Naomi Iisuka, Toshiki Okada, Richard Greenberg, Doug Wright, Edward Albee, Stephen Sondheim, and Tony Kushner/Jeanine Tesori. Among the Middlebury participants are directors Richard Romagnoli, Charles Giardina ’12, Tara Giordano ’02, Cheryl Faraone, and actors Jay Dunn ’00.5, Giordano, Mari Vial-Golden ’14, Christo Grabowski ’12, Claudio Medeiros ’90, and Hope Romagnoli. This performance will take place on Sunday, March 11, 2012, at 2:00 P.M. in the Mahaney Center for the Arts, Dance Theatre, with a 70-80 minute running time. A short reception with the artists will follow the performance. Donations will be accepted at the door, and proceeds will go to the Japan Playwrights Association for distribution to help restore the conditions that surround the Japanese theatre, i.e. theatre buildings, companies, rehearsal spaces, education and audiences.

Two days later, the Rohaytn Center for International Affairs will host a faculty panel discussion commemorating the earthquake. Participants will include Lecturer Kyoko Davis and Assistant Professor Linda White from the Japanese Studies Program, Assistant Professor of History Max Ward, and Rich Wolfson, Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics. This panel discussion will take place on Tuesday, March 13, at 4:30 P.M., in the Robert A. Jones ’59 House conference room. The panel is free and open to the public.


rethinkrebuildrememberOn April 5, two important guest speakers will visit Middlebury College to offer their reflections on the disaster. Ms. Keiko Kiyama, the Secretary General of JEN (originally established as “Japan Emergency NGOs”,) and Ms. Nozomi Kanda, the director of the Power of Japan will give a talk entitled “Rethink, Rebuild, Remember.” Both speakers are taking part in a multi-college tour that also includes stops at Princeton University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, M.I.T., and Harvard University. The Middlebury presentation, organized by Ellie Ng ’13 and Peter Moore ’14, will provide an opportunity to reflect upon the disaster by learning about the current plight and hearing voices from the ground. This event will take place on Thursday, April 5, 2012, at 7:00 P.M. in the Robert A. Jones ’59 House conference room. The session is free and open to the public.



Throughout the commemoration, additional relief and reflection activities are being planned, such as t-shirt sales, a photo exhibition, a sushi reception prepared by Middlebury College students, and more.


The devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the Tohoku (northeast) area of Japan on March 11, 2011 triggered tsunami waves over 100 feet high, claiming 20,000 lives and over 100,000 houses. The long-term impact from the unprecedented scale of destruction is immeasurable. Thousands of residents have been displaced, and entire towns have been swept away. Organizers of the “Rethink, Rebuild, Remember” project note, “During the year since the earthquake, we have seen countless images of deadly tsunami waves, wrecked homes, homeless families, orphaned children. But recently our exposure to the striking footage of the damage has begun to dwindle. As the media hype recedes and public attention shifts away from Tohoku to the Fukushima nuclear reactor and other global issues, what we remember is a strong Japanese community coming together in the wake of a horrific disaster. In the minds of many, this tragedy has become a thing of the past, but there is in fact much left to be addressed.”

The Mahaney Center for the Arts is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. The Robert A. Jones ’59 House is located at 148 Hillcrest Road in Middlebury, on the main College campus. For more information, call 802.443.5795 or visit

Mahaney Center for the Arts
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax