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The wharf workshop won't stop - Wakabacho Wharf to restart!

波止場のワークショップは立ち止まらない〜若葉町ウォーフ 再始動へ!

Visit, see and feel the world of art
File.28 Wakabacho Wharf “COVID-19 Memorial Theater”
Miyuki Inoue (Magcal Editorial Department)

Wakabacho Wharf opened in 2017 as an arts center that combines a small theater, studio, and dormitory-style accommodation. This space was established by playwright and director Makoto Sato as a way to sum up his stage activities. Until now, ``Wharf Workshops'' have been held in which young artists active in neighboring Asian cities gather to talk, learn, and share information both domestically and internationally.

* Click here for the report of Wharf Workshop 2018!

* Click here for the report of Wharf Workshop 2019!

In late March, Sato sensed from the expressions of customers visiting the theater that they could not enjoy the theater in peace, and decided to suspend all theater operations until June 30th. That also meant that the activities of the dockside workshop, which had been preparing so much, would come to a halt. However, Mr. Sato doesn't just call it "closed." Although facility operations have been suspended, the space has been opened to the community as a "vacant lot," and the " Wakaba Town Wharf Online " activity has begun, which broadcasts the situation in real time.

The first project is the "COVID-19 Memorial Theater," where various artists will draw "graffiti" on the walls of the small theater on the first floor. It was being streamed live on the ``Wharf Channel,'' but it's not very interesting just watching from a distance. So, in late June, when restrictions on traveling across prefectural borders were eased, I visited Wakaba-cho Wharf.

The pure white walls of the small theater, known as the "White Box," are nearly covered in graffiti by various artists who visit every day.
``I thought that was the reason why the walls were white,'' says Sato, but the world is truly surreal.

It's obvious, but there are windows and doors on the walls. I hadn't noticed it before, but when I opened it all up, I felt surprisingly bright and peaceful. Even though it's the same space, the images are quite different, and it's kind of strange...

This is a graffiti by artist Yuri Miyauchi, who appeared as a top batter.

In honor of the "COVID19 Memorial Theater," 19 pygmy animals will also appear.

It is also used as a waiting room for the nearby mini-theater Jack & Betty, and there are also flyers for movies whose releases have been postponed in one corner. This too seems to be part of art.

The day I visited was the day of the regular Tuesday Idobata Meeting. Although it was a simple gathering where nearby art facilities such as Jack & Betty and Cinemalin gathered to reflect on the past week, it was a good opportunity to deepen the ties between Wakabacho Wharf and the town.

After the meeting, we asked Mr. Sato about the future of Wakabacho Wharf.

“I think the really difficult part is about to come. Being forced to self-isolate for two to three months will definitely have an impact, especially on children. It may be necessary to move to a slightly different stage.
What can artists do in such a situation? Perhaps the role of theater is to generate words. I believe that I have a role to play in putting into concrete words the feelings that people are unable to put into words."

``One thing that has become clear to me is that I want to maintain this facility until it is handed over to the next generation of young people.I want to perform my own works, but first I need to think of new ways of doing things and stabilize the operation.'' I have to let it happen.”

The first activity to resume from July is "Machinaka Gallery ① Wall Exhibition." The walls of the theater decorated with the brush strokes of many artists will be exhibited.
During the event, they will hold a ``Hatoba Club'' workshop where children will be able to draw graffiti on the floor instead of the walls. I'm looking forward to seeing how far that blank white space will grow.

It looks like the workshop at the docks, which has been suspended, will start moving around the end of the year... Although it is clear that this is not an easy task, we have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable continued collaboration with artists from all over Japan and neighboring Asian cities.
*Click here for Mr. Sato's thoughts and an overview of crowdfunding !

I slow down, but I don't stop. It looks like we will continue to have to keep an eye on the developments at Wakabacho Wharf.

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