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Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room 2020 - 2022/When dialog and art ferment

Arts Council Tokyo Grant Program: Activity Report of Creation Grant [Long Term] -Session 17

For the 17th talk session with a past grant recipient, we introduce “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room” by quinada Ltd., a project which received a three-year grant starting in 2020.

Playwright/director Shu Matsui’s “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room” is a study group for contemplating society through theater. It is a community that pays no heed to the age, gender, or location of its members, and does not put emphasis on economic efficiency or productivity. Starting in 2020, the project has been undertaken with half of its 40 or so members in rotation. Revolving around online communication tools like Slack, the project provided workshops, excursions and opportunities for theater viewing and various outputs, resulting in the adoption of a hybrid online/offline activity format that suited people’s new lifestyle.

The “Specimen Room” created the opportunity for output by fermenting different people’s curiosity with the “bacteria” of art. Against the backdrop of an altered living environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, project organizers spent three years observing how the human “sample” evolves. At the same time, organizers were able to see the effects of the existence of a “third community” allowing people to step back from their life and work and view themselves objectively, and the effects of outputs that are not based on compulsory economic results or evaluation.

In running the project, organizers aimed to create a cycle of creativity where creators and audiences could exchange opinions on an equal footing. They will introduce the considerably rocky process of trial and error in which project organizers were not seeking results per se but ultimately wanted an outcome that transcended the framework of creator and audience and had a two-way impact. The creative and original operation of “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room” will also be presented.

In addition, outreach using “Specimen Meeting” (a card game developed independently by the Specimen Room) constitutes a communication tool that ties in to Shu Matsui’s creative world, and allows values to be both attached and removed. “Specimen Meeting” has attracted attention as a workshop exercise for junior high schools and working adults, and continues to be in use at public halls and other facilities. A shortened version of “Specimen Meeting” can be experienced firsthand during this session.

Grant recipient
quinada Ltd.

Shu Matsui (Playwright/director/actor/ leader of SAMPLE theater group)
Sachiko Miyoshi (Representative Director, quinada Ltd.)
Miki Watanuki (Representative, Apreciar, Inc.)

Japanese Sign Language interpreters 
Yuko Kato
Tariho Maruyama

Toru Sakai (Senior Program Officer, Grants Division, Planning Department, Arts Council Tokyo)

*Please note photographs and sound recordings of this session will be taken for the purpose of the organizer’s publicity and records and will be made available on the Arts Council Tokyo website at a later date.
*Please note this event will be conducted in Japanese.
*Assistive technology support is available in the form of sign language interpreting and the speech-to-text app UD Talk.

Outline of activities under grant

“Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room”

【Year 1 project outline】
-Launch of the Specimen Room (operation, kick-off, talks, etc.)
-Walk-through installation “Self Service”
-SAMPLE Workshop

【Year 2 project outline】
-Operation of the Specimen Room (operation, kick-off, talks, etc.)
-Fieldwork towards a self-sufficient community
-Research and installation production (discoveries of the Specimen Room environment)

【Year 3 project outline】
-Development of “Specimen Meeting”
-Archive documentary screening/Presentation of the Specimen Room environment (Hyouhon no yu)

Program (Schedule)

【Part 1】
-About Shu Matsui’s activities
-The background and intention that led to the implementation of this grant project
-Screening of “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room 2020 – 2022/When dialog and art ferment” (10-minute version)


【Part 2】
-Hands-on experience of Specimen Meeting (outreach program using a card game developed by the Specimen Room study group)
-Positive effects of the grant and future developments
-Q&A session

Speakers profiles

“Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room”
A study group launched in 2020 by playwright/director Shu Matsui.
What is a “sample”? Matsui’s project refers to people who live their lives oscillating between their “social role” – possibly a role played against their will – and their “nature/personality.”

 Photo: Toru Hiraiwa
Shu Matsui (Playwright/director/actor/ leader of SAMPLE theater group)
Playwright/director/actor/leader of SAMPLE theater group.
In 2007 Matsui launched the theater group SAMPLE, and in 2011 his work“PROUD SON” won the 55th Kishida Prize for Drama. Recent works include the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center Creation Series “IEKEI” (2023) which he wrote and directed. Since 2020, he has planned and overseen “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room,” a project previously known as “Sample Club.”

Sachiko Miyoshi (Representative Director, quinada Ltd.)
Representative Director, quinada Ltd.
After stints producing for theater companies Slow Rider, SAMPLE, and hi-bye, Miyoshi currently manages Shu Matsui’s activities and produces for gekidan Takumi. Since 2023 she has been Director of EPAD. From 2020 through 2022 she planned and organized “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room.”

Miki Watanuki (Representative, Apreciar, Inc.)
Representative, Apreciar, Inc.
After graduating from Waseda University, Watanuki worked for a consulting company and an AI start up. She currently supports business development projects for various companies, and has served as community manager for “Shu Matsui’s Specimen Room” since its launch in 2020.


40 (Advance reservation required. First-come-first-served basis.)



How to reserve

Please fill out the form in the following link.
*When applying, please inform us if you would like to participate in Specimen Meeting (a card game-based workshop).

Application deadline
Monday, December 11, 2023, 14:00

*The application will be closed once the application number reaches the limit.
*Please note event details are subject to change.
*Personal information will be handled as strictly confidential and used only for the operation of this event and to send you information from the organizer.


Activity Report of Creation Grant [Long Term] Session
Operation office (syuz’gen LLC)
E-mail: act_tj@syuzgen.com
FAX: 03-4333-0878


Arts Council Tokyo, 5th floor (Kudan First Place 5F, 4-1-28, Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 〒102-0073)



Organized by
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Operated by
syuz'gen LLC