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KGS_Cover_300px_thumb[6]This November, YTG was invited to perform a show for the Yokohama Theatre Arts Programme Symposium. The symposium, run by International Schools Theatre Association and hosted by Yokohama International School (under the guiding hand of Shane Meiklejohn), consisted of several days of theatre workshops and performances for international school drama students from across Asia. We were one of two performances put on for students.

Graig Russell and Andrew Woolner created a new show especially for the symposium. Since the symposium was taking place in Japan, they decided it was best to choose a Japanese subject, so they began digging into plots from Noh theatre. After creating and reviewing a long list of Noh plots, they narrowed it down to just a few related tales originally drawn from the Heike Monogatari. The focus of the play was three exiles living on a remote island. IMG_20141027_064432_thumb[1]

The plot revolved around to pairs of storytelling characters. The first being two characters in the present time, based loosely on Graig and Andrew themselves; the second pair were two of the island exiles who were telling stories as offerings to the gods in order to curry favour and receive a pardon for their crimes. Both sets of characters hold the theatrical space, the stage, sacrosanct, and talk of things going on in the outside world which may or may not be actually happening. The audience is asked by the modern characters not to check their phones; updates on current events will be provided as the show progresses. Those updates begin to become personal and troubling as the two modern storytellers begin to lose control of what they thought of as their story (they wrote it, after all). Meanwhile, the two exiles living in the late 1100s are having their own problems as they start to see glimpses into what might be the future.

The audience were very responsive and a short Q&A with the performer/creators was done afterwards.

YTG plans to revive this show for the general public at least once before the end of the 2014/2015 season.

 
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Merchant of Venice

The Pembroke Players from Cambridge University returned to Japan for the sixth Shakespeare tour in a row on October 4, 2014. This time they performed The Merchant of Venice, chosen for its ability to be at once a comedy and an insightful exploration of human nature.

Portia and Shylock are both trapped by the rules of society, but everything is about to change. Bassanio, in need of money to court the lovely Portia, allows his friend to put his life on the line. Luckily, when everything starts to backfire, Portia finally takes fate into her own hands. This production delves into the intriguing humanity at the heart of Shakespeare’s characters and examines the fascinating and complex relationships they have with each other, leaving open for debate the question of who the real villains are.
The production was fresh, clear and faithful, bringing the worlds of Belmont and Venice to life with their respective drives of love and finance.

The show made use of clean, simple lighting design to let the different worlds of the play be captured, emphasising the difference between Belmont’s ethereality and the more earthly force of Venice. So too did the characters aesthetically adopt the principles of their worlds, with the sharp lines of Italian economy-driven state contrasting against the more fairytale dress of the unobtainable Belmont princess and her cohort. Ultimately, this production focused on bringing to life the relentless dichotomies, questions and complex relationships of Shakespeare’s rich text in a way that was both thought-provoking and punchy.

Photos of the production can be viewed ::HERE::.

 
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by Naoto Kojoh

Performed at the WORLD PEACE THEATRE in Kawasaki
August 16 & 17, 2014

 The Teleportation Project was a fantastic piece of theatre that explored the personal, social, and philosophical consequences of a world-changing technology. The show was created in rehearsal by YTG and guest director from Holland Jochem van Rijsingen.

Teleportation is the instantaneous transportation of a person or an object from one place to another. We used this theme to examine how instant travel could change society and human identity. Is the person who has been broken apart at one end and assembled again at the other end (with different molecules, but otherwise identical) the same person, or did the original die? What could be the social consequences of such a technology?

The Teleportation Project featured the YTG 2014 Summer Ensemble (Andrew Woolner, Shenandoah Butterworth, and Andrew Kehoe), the JDS Company Youth dance ensemble, and select JDS Soul Kids.

 
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39 Complex Wide Red 900px

 

The 39 Complex was YTG's spring show in 2014. It was made up of three original one-act plays combined into one evening of theatre.

This was YTG's first crowd-funded show; we raised nearly half a million yen from backers all over the world in order to put it on. It will provide the template for future fundraising.

Read more: The 39 Complex
 
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Beowulf_Flyer_Submission_0120130715_132129_20130715132407282The Beowulf Project was not a regular main stage show. It was a project initiated by THE ART Project Multicultural Book-Reading Club and sponsored by Kawasaki city’s Takatsu ward’s Shiminkan. The goal was to produce a show, based on a foreign fairy tale or story, that the kids could perform in English. We wanted to eliminate any preconceptions about the story, so we chose Beowulf. We guessed, correctly, that most schoolchildren wouldn’t be familiar with an Old English epic poem. We also decided that we didn’t want a regular kids’ show with the children just memorizing lines and waving their arms around, and also that we wanted to try to follow the philosophy of the YTG Ensemble as much as possible. It was important that the kids spend much of the show being themselves rather than "acting". 

(Photo: First “audition” day in Kawasaki. July 15, 2013)

(Poster: the Beowulf flyer)

Read more: The Beowulf Project
 
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Show-n-Tell Interviews

Recently, Artistic Director Andrew Woolner and associate artist (and teacher of our voice classes) Graig Russell sat down with Soness Stephens of show-n-tell.us to talk about some Theatre-related topics. Read more to watch them all! 

 

(The videos were compiled by Soness and Brian over at ::show-n-tell.us:: If you enjoyed them, head over to that link and see what else they've got.)

Read more: Interviews!
 
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Haunted 150pxOn August 3rd and 4th, 2013 YTG presented its second House Show.

The show was created and scripted by the Yokohama Theatre Summer Ensemble in rehearsal, based on scene ideas and improvisations created by members, working from the theme of  "Haunted".

Unlike the first House Show, in which the ensemble used a living room as a makeshift theatre, the Summer Ensemble took on the challenge of using the house pretty much as-is. The architecture and layout of the house directly inspired not just the theme, but also each and every scene in the show.

 

Read more: House Show II: Haunted - Aug 3 &...
 
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