About 5 years ago, I was surprised to discover that a friend was going to appear on stage in Nagoya in an English language community theatre production of A Christmas Carol.
Despite being in the city for about a year at the time, I had no idea such things were going on. Talking more to him about it, I found out the group were a bunch of Japanese and foreign volunteers, and that they were about to hold a meeting to decide their next show.
The more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea of such a group became. I was feeling a bit disillusioned with my lackluster job at the time, and it struck me that what I really needed was an outlet to release a bit of pent up creative energy.
So I went along to the aforementioned meeting, got a role in their next show, and then found myself directing the one after that. Since then, I’ve directed 5 shows (the last being Hamlet in 2012), appeared in 4, worked as a sound designer and stage manager and finally took the role of Artistic Director for the group Nameless Theatre here in Nagoya.
What is the appeal? Every actor, director, light designer and make up artist is a volunteer, which means surrendering most Sundays to rehearsal for about 3-4 months. There is plenty of potential for stress and problems too. Rehearsing only once or twice a week, getting dozens of props and costumes together, promoting the show so people are actually there to watch it…getting all this done takes a lot of time, dedication and work, especially considering everyone involved has a regular 9-5 day job.
But the process of being involved in a group where everyone is working together towards the same goal, and then bringing that all together in a successful show in front of 1000 (or so) people is an unforgettable and unique experience I haven’t found anywhere else.
We’re currently hard at work putting together on our next production, Romeo and Juliet, which opens on May 24th at the Aichi Arts Center in Sakae. Between the cast and crew there are about 50 people from all parts of the world involved in the production. As always I’m struck by the sheer amount of creative talent that exists in Nagoya, which doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a particularly artistic area of Japan. Will the amount of passion, skill and dedication our group has shown to put this show up change that? I doubt it, but I hope at least that the people who come will walk away thinking, “that was a great show”. For me, that’s enough.
If you ever find yourself in search of a more interesting way to spend your Sundays, or are just in the mood to branch out and try something new and creative, community theatre might be the thing you’re looking for. Visit our Facebook page for more information.