(Artistic Director Knife inc.) was born in Tokyo, raised in Georgia, Texas and California, and is now based in Brooklyn. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Columbia University. Aya is a writer, performer, director, and translator in the theatre.
As a playwright and director, her play Serendipity was winner at Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (1996) and finalist at Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville. Her Eating Dirt was produced at SoHo Rep (1999), and she directed it for Theaters Against War at HERE (2003). She directed her play a girl of 16 in its world premiere (2003). She was commissioned to write for Buglisi/Foreman’s Gravel Bed which premiered at Joyce Theater (2005). She directed her play pictures of the drowned at New York Theatre Workshop’s 4th Street Theater (2005). She founded Knife inc. in 2005 and has initiated all the projects of the company since. she wrote and directed oph3lia at HERE Arts Center and presented in-process showings of ARTIFACT at PRELUDE’07 and Performance MIX Festival 2009. She was commissioned by The Foundry Theatre to create a new piece in collaboration with Adhikaar, an advocacy group for the Nepalese community; the resulting piece, Journey to the Ocean, was presented at The Rubin Museum in 2011.
She has been commissioned to translate many Japanese plays into English, including Hiroshi Koike’s WD Part I – IV, Island, Three Sisters and Letters to Buenos Aires for Pappa TARAHUMARA; Chong Wishin’s My Darling Medea and Kunio Shimizu’s The Dressing Room for Barnard College; Yoji Sakate’s Emperor and Kiss for Rinkogun Theater Company; a re-translation of Kobo Abe’s Involuntary Homicide for production at CALArts; Takeshi Kawamura’s AOI/KOMACHI for its 2007 U.S. tour; Frozen Beach by Keralino Sandorovich, which she directed as a reading at Japan Society; Five Days in March and Air Conditioner by Toshiki Okada for their U.S. tours in 2009 as well as Witness Relocation’s production of Five Days in 2010; ENJOY!, also by Okada, for its English language premiere produced by The Play Company in 2010; The Blue Bird by Mikuni Yanaihara produced by Witness Relocation in 2009; and Shoji Kokami’s Halcyon Days for production in London by W-Squared in 2010.
Aya has performed nationally including the one-woman show Sacred Graffi-tea at Asian American Theatre Company, San Francisco (1994); she originated and performed numerous roles with the International WOW Company including JR Oppenheimer in The Bomb (2002) and the title role in Alice’s Evidence; and Time Out NY hailed her performance as Chomsky in The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky at HERE (2004). International credits include her role in the world premiere of the award-winning Emperor and Kiss (1999) with Rinko-Gun Company, Tokyo; she was selected as part of the artist team representing the U.S. at the International Theater Institute’s 2006 Congress in Manila and 2008 Congress in Madrid, for which she co-created and performed in international collaborations; and the European premiere of Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven at the Vienna Festival (2007)
She was the recipient of a 2005 Artistic Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop (where she is now a Usual Suspect), Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists (2005-2006), and HERE Artist Residency (2006-2008). She is also a recipient of the Space Grant at BAX (Brooklyn Arts Exchange) and Swing Space award at the LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) for the winter of 2006 and spring of 2008. She is a 2006 recipient of the Urban Artist Initiative Grant for Individual Artists administered by the Asian American Artist Alliance, a 2008 grantee of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Individual Artist Theater Commissioning Grant and grantee of the Axe-Houghton Foundation.