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“Night on the Galactic Railway” is a group reading music play that connects with the city.

街とつながる群読音楽劇「銀河鉄道の夜」

The place where plays are born
File.2 Gundomi Musical Drama “Galaxy Railway Night 2018”
(Koichi Imai/Editing writer)

When you think of the universities that come to mind when you hear the word "theater," you probably think of Waseda University or Nihon University's College of Art.
It may not be known to the general public that Oberlin University, located in Fuchinobe, Sagamihara City, has a School of Arts and Culture, and recently there have been quite a few actors and dancers who graduated from the university. However, Prunus Hall, which is owned by the university, is conducting some of the most advanced activities in the country.
First of all, the management and operation of the hall is mainly carried out by students, and it is not only a place for student training and presentations, but also a ``theater open to the community'' where various projects are held.

In order to embody this mission, the Gundomi music play ``Night on the Galactic Railway'' was born as a citizen participation project, and has become an annual summer performance as the face of the theater. This stage, created by citizens, students, and professional artists, is now in its 12th year.
Apparently, 8,521 customers have witnessed it so far.

Fuchinobe, where Prunus Hall is located, is known as the ``city of galaxies'' because of the presence of JAXA, and the town is being developed to evoke the image of outer space, with streets named after constellations and a ``galaxy festival'' held in the summer. It is. In that sense, Kenji Miyazawa's ``Night on the Galactic Railway'' would be the perfect subject.
Furthermore, Kenji's uniquely breathy writing style is said to be filled with the desire to convey something. The story focuses on the loneliness of the main character, Giovanni, and depicts life and death in a fantastical way, allowing us to hear the ``human voices'' of sadness, joy, and longing. The people who will express this "voice" are a cast of citizens and students from various generations who were selected through auditions last May.

The stage is circular, with a pond in the center that uses fresh water, and an island-like acting area within the pond. Chairs are placed around the pond, and although the cast members have a script, they run around it, dance, and even jump into the water. There will also be sonic collaborations such as live music, singing, and body percussion. The stage where Kenji's dynamic body and Kenji's strong thoughts are fused together transforms the stage into a very profound world.

Although rehearsals are only for one week during the summer vacation, it is a very luxurious environment as we can occupy the same space from day to night with the same stage art as the actual production.

The purpose of this project is for organizers, artists, and participants to provide high-quality performing arts, and to increase interest in the arts by presenting each other's values regardless of generation, gender, or occupation. Our mission is to work with the local community to popularize artistic activities.

``After the event, I received letters from the citizens who participated, and the attitude of people of various generations enthusiastically going to the same stage is exactly what Kenji Miyazawa was aiming for, as described in ``Introduction to Peasant Art.'' I was moved by what you wrote about how this is the ideal type of community."

``A woman who participated when she was 70 years old was able to attend an audition 10 years later when she was 80 years old, and passed the audition with flying colors.Furthermore, she felt that her presence, rather than fading away, was increasing in brilliance. .I felt like we were able to learn the importance of continuing.”

Professor Masao Noso, who is in charge of directing the performance, says that these are words that have left an impression on him from all the meetings he has had with the citizens, and that they are his memories.

While accumulating history, in 2011, as it was the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, he created works based on the theme of ``Prayers of Kenji Miyazawa.'' It was even featured on an NHK program as a "stage for overcoming the earthquake."
In 2014, Kenji's hometown of Iwate Prefecture traveled to Nishiwaga Town, recruited performers from the local townspeople, and created a Nishiwaga version of the work. In 2015, performances were held at two theaters, Fuchinobe and Meguro, co-sponsored by Meguro Persimmon Hall. Furthermore, in 2016, we held a performance in Tainan, Taiwan, and in October of this year, we are planning a performance at the China Drama Academy in Beijing as part of an inter-university exchange.

There aren't many works that grow together with the public like this. I think the driving force behind this is that we have purposely charged a fee and aimed to create high-quality works, rather than just having fun because of citizen participation.
``Night on the Galactic Railway'' is a group reading musical drama that is changing from the face of the theater to the face of the city. For this to truly come true, the key will be how far we can connect with the city.

*Photo provided by Oberlin University Prunus Hall
*All stage photos are from the 2017 performance.

This event has ended.
《OPAL x Oberlin University Prunus Hall Produced/Citizen Participation Project
Gundomi Musical Drama “Night on the Galactic Railway 2018”》

■Date and time: Thursday, August 23, 2018 to Sunday, August 26, 2018
■Venue: Oberlin University Prunus Hall
■Original work: Kenji Miyazawa
■Screenplay and direction: Masao Noso (Professor of Drama, College of Arts and Culture, Oberlin University)
■Music: Akiko Kobayakawa (Associate Professor of Music, College of Arts and Culture, Oberlin University)
■Choreography: Hatsune Farrell Kanda (Graduate of Oberlin College of Arts and Culture)
■Cast: 23 citizens and students selected by audition, Hatsune Kanda Farrell (dance), Akiko Kobayakawa (piano)
■Ticket price: General 1,200 yen/Students 1,000 yen *Add 300 yen on the day
■Release date: July 16th (Monday)
■Starting time: 19:00 on the 23rd and 24th, 14:00/19:00 on the 25th, 14:00 on the 26th
■Inquiries: Oberlin University Prunus Hall Tel. 042-704-7133 (10:00-18:00)

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