The world of performing arts for people with intellectual disabilities
Tomoko Utsumi (Chairman of NPO Dream Energy Project)
■ Don't lose to Corona! Online concert
The ``Wonderful Meeting Concert'' was scheduled to be held on ``World Down Syndrome Day'' on March 21, 2020.
A collaborative concert featuring piano performances, solo singing, and harp performances by people with Down syndrome, as well as plays and songs by people with intellectual disabilities, was scheduled to be performed, but it was postponed to May due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection. . There was also a proposal to hold it as an online concert after autumn.
It was a very bold challenge for me, IT Onchi.
At the NPO Dream Energy Project (commonly known as Drippro), which I serve as representative, we create opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to learn and experience, and support "work experience." Also, as one of the pillars of our activities, we have held plays and concerts for people with intellectual disabilities, but this is the first time for an online concert. I had no idea what to do.
I thought about using a paid music distribution site, but it requires an ID and password, and customers like me who are unfamiliar with IT might give up halfway through! I felt like that, so I stopped.
I thought about "publishing" it on YouTube, but I was caught.
It is the fear of being targeted for slander on the Internet.
It would be useless if an anonymous and irresponsible comment made them lose their desire to express what they were working so hard on. Due to such concerns, we decided to send a viewing URL only to those who wish to view it during October, a free limited delivery method.
Program of “Nice Encounter Online Concert”
Part 1 Piano performance by a person with Down syndrome, solo singing, guest harp performance
Part 2 Message to those who watched the online concert by 11 members with intellectual handicap
The venue is a French restaurant that doubles as a salon concert venue in Fujisawa city. Originally, I was planning to have a concert with tea and cake, but unfortunately there was no audience.
In the second half of the concert, the members of Drippro conveyed their special skills and messages one by one. For members who were worried about coronavirus infection and could not come to the venue, I asked them to send me recordings of dances and poetry readings at home and edited them.
Impressions from those who watched. (Excerpt)
●I was impressed by everyone's dignified appearance during the presentation. I felt a clear desire to want people to see it and to convey it. And it was connected to speaking clearly so that the feeling was transmitted to the other party. I felt the importance of having the feeling that I want to convey.
●The individuality of each character was demonstrated, and I enjoyed it. The harp was nice too. I think it is very important to express yourself and have a place to express yourself. Although it is difficult to hold events and presentations now, I would like to express my respect for the devised methods of holding this event through the efforts of everyone.
Currently, this concert can be viewed by visiting Drippro's website .
■ Performing arts for people with intellectual disabilities
Performing arts such as theater, music, and dance are also called "performing arts." Speaking of performing arts for people with physical disabilities, many people must have been impressed by the dancers with prosthetic legs who appeared at the closing ceremony of the Rio Paralympic Games.
However, the performing arts of people with intellectual disabilities may not be well known yet.
Art such as paintings and sculptures by people with intellectual disabilities are known for their unique flavor and splendor.
I think many people know Shoko Kanazawa, a calligrapher with Down's syndrome who wrote the opening title for the Taiga drama "Kiyomori Taira."
In fact, there are many organizations, including Drippro, where people with intellectual disabilities are involved in theater, music, and dance.
There are groups that have been featured in the media and are doing wonderful activities that have won awards overseas.
It's a waste not to know!
I would like to introduce some of the activities of Drippro, as well as information about organizations related to Kanagawa and overseas that are involved in the performing arts.
Dripro's theater and concert
Since 2012, DripPro has held “Inclusion Lives” with professional musicians and people with intellectual disabilities at live houses in Tokyo. In 2016, 2017 and 2019, he held a stage performance of music and theater called "The 21st wonderful encounter", and in 2018 he held a music event called "A wonderful encounter concert" at Yotsuya Kumin Hall.
This photo is a scene from the play "The 21st Wonderful Encounter" held at Kanagawa Prefectural Public Hall in August 2019 as part of Kanagawa Prefecture's "Coexistence and Co-creation Project". Most of the performers are young people with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism.
People with Down's syndrome have a soft voice or a poor tongue, making it difficult to hear what they say.
In 2015, when I started writing the script because I wanted to do a play, I thought it might be difficult for them to actually say their lines. was thinking. However, as they practiced more and more, they became itchy to say their lines and began to speak without narration. At first, the children who could not raise their heads turned to face forward, and they became able to hear the lines of the children who could not understand what they were saying. was doing
They are intellectually handicapped.
People have varying degrees of poor comprehension, difficulty concentrating, and inability to control their emotions.
A lot of things happen during practice and during performances.
During practice, it's common to get stuck in one's own world.
Sometimes I shut myself up in the bathroom and didn't come out.
On the morning of the performance, getting lost in the street after being separated from my mother, or running to the bathroom late to start my turn even during the performance...
There are many such and such things, but at any rate, it shows incredible power in what you like.
Unconditionally honest when it comes to fun.
I love to express myself, and I enjoy expressing myself, so I can do my best.
When people think of people with intellectual disabilities, they tend to think of things like “I can’t do a lot of things” or “I don’t really understand,” but even the slightest remarks, gestures, and actions make me laugh, and on the contrary, there are times when I think, “Wow!”
There is not much difference from us, and it makes me wonder, "What is a disability?"
Actor Takako Tokiwa is participating as a volunteer out of consideration for these people.
There are many people who fill in the questionnaire at the end of the performance every time.
Excerpt from the questionnaire at the performance in 2019.
●I was deeply moved by the fact that everyone is doing their best to do what they love. I tend to stop because I care too much about what other people think.
●It was a play filled with the happiness of being born. Until now and from now on, I think that you have experienced many hardships, painful things, and many things, but I hope you will continue to have a kind heart that cares, cares, and loves others. I got a lot of notices too.
● Content that makes you think about the meaning of being born. And it's wonderful to see the individuality of each performer while acting firmly.
As for concerts, the online concert I wrote at the beginning was the second time, but the first "wonderful encounter concert" held in 2018 was performed by performers with Down's syndrome and performers with autism. Co-starring was the main concert.
It was very interesting to see how the differences in disability created the uniqueness of the music.
The performers with Down's syndrome were kind and warm, and that was reflected in their performances. On top of that, they face the performance with the difficulties due to their disabilities.
With a pacemaker in his heart (TOSHIKI) and deafness in his left ear (Hayago), Rintaro was born with the tip of his right wrist missing. ” to play the melody.
Piano performance by Rintaro Suzuki
On the other hand, performers with autism all said that they were hyperactive and restless when they were young, and they were very picky, and had a hard time remembering the rules of everyday life.
However, his mother realized that he was quiet only when he was listening to music, and created an environment that allowed him to develop his talent. His focus on the music he loves is outstanding, and his playing and singing are full of passion and dynamic momentum.
For example playing the piano. While the piano performances of Mayu and Rintaro, who have Down syndrome, are gentle and full of emotion, Takuto, who has autism, bursts with joy as his fingers dance happily over the keyboard. There was a sense of rhythm, and I felt a sense of ensemble that was dynamic and echoed deep in my heart.
Piano performance by Takuto Koyanagi
Soloist Tae Kamiya
The concert was well received.
Loud applause, people crying, and many questionnaires saying they were "impressed".
However, due to the intellectual handicap, the rhythm and tempo may not be as stable as other people.
It's not even a compliment to say that someone like Hayato is "good". I can't get the sound out.
So what did the customers applaud for?
There was a person who told me, ``I don't have the desire to look good, so on the contrary, it may resonate directly with my heart.''
It's true that everyone finds it difficult to express themselves in words, so they put their true selves into their songs and songs.
It may take an immeasurable amount of time to master one song, and it may be difficult to achieve perfect accuracy, but there is a passion that surpasses such things.
He has the honesty to show his true self without bargaining to the best of his ability.
There is an overflowing single-mindedness.
Perhaps that will move the hearts of the listeners.
Strength in weakness...
We tend to say, "turning a minus into a plus," but the fact that we have worked hard in spite of various difficulties, and the path we have walked without giving up, is reflected in our performances such as performances and songs. . The same can be said for theater and dance.
I think that is one of the attractions of performing arts for people with intellectual disabilities.
Singer Keiko Mizukoshi, who came to see us at the venue, wrote this on her blog.
“Piano performance, violin, trumpet, flute, and solo singing. Each and every performance and song reached the depths of my heart, and I was overwhelmed halfway through. Each one of us, as an expressionist, threw it at us with a naked heart.(omission) As a mother, as a person who performs music, and as a person, I feel various things, and I feel that everything is important. I felt the starting point and had a precious time.”
■ Groups involved in performing arts related to Kanagawa
Lovejunks is an entertainment school for people with Down syndrome.
There are schools in Kanto, Kansai, and Hokkaido, and a total of 800 people belong.
"I feel that people with Down syndrome excel at expressing their feelings directly," says Anna Makino, the founder of the program. After teaching dance to some children, he was fascinated by their ability to attract people and their high sensibility, and launched Rabjansuk.
Twenty-six years ago, when my son was born, people with Down syndrome were rarely seen on television. The activities of Love Junks, who have appeared on TV and at various events, have not only encouraged parents raising children with Down syndrome, but have also become a major presence in letting people who do not know about Down syndrome know about its energetic hidden power. became. Anna, who teaches and choreographs professional dancers, speaks powerfully about the appeal of dancing for children with Down syndrome.
"The sight of them enjoying dancing to their heart's content touches people's hearts and reminds them of their origins."
The Hot Generation stage original musical works three times a year with professional musical actors, regardless of whether they have a disability or not.
Meiko Torii, who presides over the members with intellectual disabilities, says, "Performances overflowing with kindness and beauty, spun by pure and innocent souls, give us supreme healing and courage."
The singing voice of Tae Kamiya, who has autism and is the main character in many works (front row of the stage), has a resounding voice that descends from the heavens.
Torii, who has been teaching Tae since high school, says:
“There are times when I am not able to approach training with a stable emotional state, but it is important to fully believe in the potential of my opponent.”
Precisely because there are hardships that cannot be seen, Tae-san shines on stage with a dignified appearance that does not make people feel that she has a disability.
There is a connection with the hot generation, and about 20 years ago, I asked Mr. Torii to set up a branch in Kanagawa and started the Kanagawa school. I tried to create a place where I could live.
I graduated seven years ago to establish Drippro, and I believe that the activities of inclusion itself, regardless of whether or not there is a disability, have great significance.
[Salsa gum tape]
“Salsa gumtape” is a rock band led by musician Tetsu Kashiwa and formed with people with intellectual disabilities.
It has been 26 years since I started working at a welfare facility in the prefecture.
People with intellectual handicap sing and perform as entertainers, and the energy they get excited about is amazing.
In the "Wonderful World" created by Mr. Kashiwa in response to the "Tsukui Yamayurien" incident, anger and hope swirl and explode.
The members of Drippro were also invited to the Salsa Gumtape concert in January this year, and we sang this song together. The stage and venue became one, and it became a big chorus.
"I was born to be happy! I love being alive!"
The sight of the members with intellectual disabilities shouting from the bottom of their hearts must have been firmly etched in the minds of everyone at the venue.
All live performances have been canceled due to the corona crisis. It's been a long time since I've been live at the non-audience online event held in November.
In addition, Mr. Kashiwa wants to connect the hearts of people who cannot meet due to the corona wreck, and the new song "Aitai! ] was also made.
"We rock and roll every day just because it's fun. It's even more fun if we share that fun with someone else. It's the most peaceful sharing in the world!!"
As Shiwa's message suggests, the rock'n'roll spirit of surviving in any situation is alive and well.
All of them are doing performances that have the power to break through the sense of stagnation in society, but of course there are many other places that are active with convictions.
Finally, a little bit of overseas information.
It's a bit different from the performing arts field, but overseas, people with Down's syndrome have been active for more than 20 years, appearing on television and in movies.
In 1996, Pascal Duquesne, an actor with Down Syndrome who was cast as one of the lead characters in the movie "The Eighth Day", won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
It was released in Japan in 1997 and gave me the courage to raise my own child with Down syndrome.
Lauren Potter, who has Down Syndrome, plays Becky in the hit TV series "Glee." As some of you may know, it was broadcast on NHK E-tele in 2012, but Becky is a member of the cheerleading club in this coming-of-age drama set in a rural high school, where high school students who have been left behind sing and dance. Appearance. Both peers and teachers accept her as a normal person with Down syndrome. I was just as surprised and longed for her as an actor, who is as good as any other actor in the American culture, where she naturally comes into contact with me as a fellow student, without special treatment. .
And now, the movie "Chocolate Donut" is attracting attention. Isaac Leiva, who plays the role of Marco in this movie released in 2014 and made to cry by Rudy and Paul who try to live their own lives while fighting social prejudice, is also an actor with Down syndrome.
In December 2020, "Chocolate Donut" will be performed in Japan as a play directed by Amon Miyamoto and starring Noriyuki Higashiyama. There, a boy with Down syndrome actually appears as Marco.
The reason why many people with intellectual disabilities overseas appear in TV and movies is probably because there are theater training schools and there are production companies. There is an entertainment production company for people with intellectual disabilities in Los Angeles, and I have been allowed to visit it. Many intellectually handicapped people have appeared on television and in movies from there. An actor with Down syndrome appeared in the 300th commemorative program of "ER Emergency Room", which was popular as a medical drama in Japan, in the important role of Peter Fonda's son.
In addition, women with Down syndrome are active as models overseas.
In June 2020, Gucci (GUCCI), a luxury brand that leads the world's fashion world, appointed British Ellie Goldstein as a model for the advertisement of the Italian version of "VOGUE".
In October, global skincare brand Obagi announced that it would use Grace Strobel as a model.
Over the past few years, many women with Down syndrome have taken to the big stage as models. It seems that the world is headed toward "personal beauty that emphasizes diversity."
In Japan, former Paris Collection model Mariko Takagi is making efforts to train models for people with intellectual disabilities. It may not be long before a model with Down's syndrome from Japan goes out into the world.
He became interested in Down's syndrome and theater after encountering the movie 8th Day, and for more than 20 years has believed in the potential of people with intellectual disabilities in acting, singing, and dancing, and has been working on their activities.
While there are other people doing wonderful activities, it may have become presumptuous, but I wrote it in the hope that as many people as possible would be interested in their performance.
Looking ahead to next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games, and as a legacy of that, I hope that the performing arts of people with disabilities, not just those with intellectual disabilities, will take root in Japan.
"Because I want to see their performance."
"Because it's fun to have a unique personality"
"Because it's funny"
With such a motivation, I sincerely hope that the general public will increase the number of people who want to go to theaters, concerts, and dance performances of people with intellectual disabilities, and that society will become full.