Khaos

Spirit of TIP

On Saturday evening I went to TIP’s end of season party.  As part of the season’s closing they presented a number of awards and I was incredibly touched to receive The “Spirit of TIP” award.  I find it hard to believe that I’ve only been involved with the English speaking theatre community in Tokyo for just over a year and a half.  It has become such an important part of my life.  I’ve gotten to sing, dance, act, direct, teach, sew, paint, knit, and to find a place that feels like home.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

After the Saturday matinee performance of Tokyo International Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the director, Jonah Hagans, gave a short talk on the play and took questions from the audience.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

I finished working on TIP‘s production of The Diary of Anne Frank on Sunday night.   I feel a little lost without the show as it took over my life, particularly during the last couple of weeks.  Although I have been involved in other shows this was the first time I got to see every aspect of putting together a production.  There is a surprising amount of work involved and whilst I have been thinking of directing I’m a little daunted by just how many things a director is expected to do.

As well as assisting the director I got to paint the set, sew, knit, crochet, sing, waltz, and help make props.  I was fascinated by the props.  Some of the things on set look so life-like yet I know that they were put together with things like plastic garbage bins and old food cartons.  I loved the set.  There is something magical about seeing it come to life on a blank stage.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Photo Credit: John Matthews

I’m incredibly glad that I was given the opportunity to work on the production.  I worked with an experienced director, Jonah Hagans, who was willing to teach and put up with my lack of experience.  I worked with so many people including sound and lighting experts, a Tony nominated set designer, the most supportive theatre liaison, and a stage manager who has become a friend.  The cast were amazing at telling the story and still managed to bring me to tears during performances even though I had seen every rehearsal.  It is a story worth telling and I believe we told it well.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.”

Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank

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On With The Show

The TIP Youth season has finished. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to do it again next season. The children wrote me the sweetest messages. Though the funniest had to be:

“You’re so good at singing and I love your accent! I’ve been dying for an accent every since.”

My accent certainly was the source of lots of humour for the production team. I managed to confuse the lighting designer when I was talking about the “whale.” He heard me say “wheel” and could not work out why we would have a wheel the size of the stage to swallow Pinocchio. He didn’t say anything though, just pretended he could understand me!

My time is still being taken up with theatre. It’s just 13 days until load-in for The Diary of Anne Frank. There is still so much work to do. Everything is on track, but it does feel like an uphill climb to the end. I’m nervous and excited. It’s going to be an amazing play.

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TIP Youth

I have been working as musical director for TIP Youth for their 2016 – 2017 season. Tonight we had the final performance of My Son Pinocchio Jr. and tomorrow we will have two performances of Fame Jr. It’s been hard work, but I really enjoyed working with the talented cast and crew. I will miss them.

TIP Youth Flyer

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April 22nd, 2017
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Theatre Work

I’ve a busy few months coming up.  I’ve agreed to be assistant director for TIP’s May production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  This is my first time as an assistant director and I’m enjoying the challenge.  It is a heartbreaking play, but a story that is worth telling and feels horribly relevant at the minute.

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

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February Music

I’ve been trying to find a musical that I would like to direct.  This is much harder than I expected.  First I have to rule out all the musicals I’d actually like to sing, as I wouldn’t get to do that if I was directing. This isn’t that many musicals as I’m well aware that I can’t sing male roles or female roles that I’m too old for.  People have suggested that I sing male roles but there are strict rules when you get the rights to the show and you can’t just decide to change the gender of a character.  I was thrilled to read recently that Stephen Sondheim had agreed to change the gender of the lead character in Company.

Then there are all the musicals I can’t get the rights to do – anything really that’s currently on Broadway or the West End.  Then you have to rule out the musicals that are currently playing in Tokyo, as I won’t get the rights to those – ruling out things like West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Rent, and Kinky Boots.  And any musical that’s being done by a amateur group or smaller theatre in Japan as there are rules as to often a musical can be played in one region.

Then there all the musicals that are male dominant, as I’m not convinced I would find the cast.  It seems that more women are auditioning for the roles in amateur theatre here. I also like female voices, so don’t know if I really want to put on a show like “Newsies” which has something like 24 male roles and only 2 female ones.

Then there is the problem with cast size.  I really liked musicals like “Once” – not that the rights are available yet – but if the cast is too small it’s difficult to sell tickets. I really do hope I find inspiration soon.

I am planning on being involved in a production of “Songs for a New World” this year.  But I still need to find a theatre and dates before I try to acquire the rights.  It’s not easy to book a theatre in Tokyo, as many of them need booked more than a year in advance, but I’m hopeful that one of the smaller ones will be free in June.

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February 6th, 2017
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More Musical Improv

Yesterday, I attended a workshop taught by Keng-Sam Chane Chick Té.  We worked on creating scenes, with a musician, that were entirely physical, using no speech.  I found this quite difficult but I did enjoy how it helped to create connections between the players.  It requires a lot of concentration on the other players if you need to work out what sort of scene you are creating together if you can’t talk about it.  The incidental music that the pianist played also helped us find the emotional context of the scenes.  It was quite different than the other musical improv that I have done, as I was not creating music.  Some of it did end up like dance, and at one point I managed to bruise myself by colliding with another player I was performing with.

I started attended improv classes in the hope that it would improve my acting.  Now I’m starting to attend them as I’m enjoying improv as an art form.

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January 30th, 2017
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New Goals

Since it’s the start of another year I decided to update my “101 things in 1001 days” list.  I have reduced the number of travel related goals, as I don’t enjoy travelling as much as I used to.  I have removed everything to do with programming languages and tech conferences.  I will admit that it feels strange not to be planning to attend YAPC, but I want to attend different things in 2017.

I’ve added lots of new goals involving music and theatre, and kept all my writing, reading, and organisation goals.  At some point I really will tidy up all the cupboards in the apartment.

 

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January 19th, 2017
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West End Visit

I went to the the theatre three times when I was in London.  The first play I saw was Much Ado About Nothing, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, at Haymarket Theatre.  It was a beautiful version of the play directed by Christopher Luscombe, with a wonderful score composed by Nigel Hess.  I wasn’t expecting the singing and dancing but it really added to the play and the feeling of joy at the end.

I saw The Bodyguard, with Beverly Knight in the lead role.  It was a completely unsubtle spectacle with a minimal plot held together by as many Whitney Houston songs as they could fit in.  I did enjoy it, but it’s not something I could watch twice.  I loved the lighting.  A large part of the show was set in Rachel Maron’s house, and they managed to make it look as if the rooms of the house were being flooded by natural light from large windows.

The final play I saw was The Dresser.  The revolving set was stunning.  I was so jealous of their ability to create an intimate back stage setting that could turn to become the stage to perform their play within a play.  I was conflicted about the acting.  Both Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith were excellent but I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the characters.  It was a much funnier version of the play, than the one I had been involved with last year, but I felt that the constant use of humour detracted from the emotional content.  It was strangely intense watching a play that I knew so well, but I did enjoy it.

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January 17th, 2017
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