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Presentations in the United States of theatre from Japan are sites of linguistic contestation and tension. Non-Japanese-speaking audiences rely on technologies of access to foreign words spoken (and cultures experienced) live onstage. The titles flashed on screens, the translations and commentary transmitted through battery-powered devices, and the explanations printed in program booklets send audiences a message of remoteness, of difference, of a cultural "gulf." Professional (and, invariably, non- Japanese-speaking) critics are frontline negotiators with the foreign. through their writings, we can identify major modes of audience reaction to the unfamiliar. The analytical framework that I propose identifies three principal discursive strategies—advocating surrender, assuming universality, and putting up resistance—that mark critics' negotiations with the foreign. each of the strategies is a response to words not understood from the stage. there is no neutral stance: language inevitably calls attention to itself—and elicits a response.