Masanari Kawahara is a performer and educator who incorporates puppetry, mask, and movement into his work. He was a company member of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) from 1998 to 2009. At HOBT, Masanari collaborated on numerous productions, his last production as a company member, A Path Home: A Story of Thich Nhat Hanh (2009) which was chosen as outstanding puppetry by Lavender. He also worked on the productions Beneath the Surface (2008), La Natividad (2008), and Wild Swans (2004). He was the co-creator and designer of GOTAMA: Journey to the Buddha (2006), recognized by City Pages as one of the ten great sets/scenic designs of the year.
In addition, Masanari has conceived, designed, and directed several solo short works including GOJIRA! (2006-2008) and O-Rho Rho, the song of the Owl God (2004). He created a performance art piece RETURNING as the recipient of the Naked Stages Program (2004). His latest project is a solo performance piece HIROSHIMA (work-in-progress) performed at Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision series in April 2011, which is a continuous work of a performance art piece I.N. (2010) which looked at the life of an immigrant artist through the life of Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi, performed at Dreamland Arts through Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival.
As an actor, Masanari has worked with Jon Ferguson in Pinocchio (2011), Pangea World Theatre in Conference of the Birds (2009), Illusion Theater in Cirque de Guerre (2008), as well as with Theater Mu and the late Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
As a teacher, Masanari has taught puppetry, mask making, and how to create pageants. His students have ranged from first graders to college students, from south Minneapolis to South Korea. Currently, he teaches at Pillsbury House + Theatre as a resident teaching artist.
Masanari Kawahara is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow (2010-2011).