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Magcal Performing Arts Academy Main Performance: Mr. Kensuke Yokouchi talks about his thoughts

マグカル・パフォーミングアーツ・アカデミー本公演  横内謙介氏が語るその想い

Cancellation of the performance "Momijizaka Memories" by Magcal Performing Arts Academy

Regarding the above-mentioned performances scheduled to be held from March 19th (Sat) to 21st (Mon, holiday), we have decided to cancel them, with the safety and security of our audience, performers, and staff as our top priority, as it has been confirmed that one of our Academy students has been infected with COVID-19.
We sincerely apologize to all the customers and people involved who were looking forward to the performance.

Ticket Refunds
Due to the cancellation of the performance, tickets purchased will be refunded.

Magcal Performing Arts Academy was opened in 2014 by Kanagawa Prefecture to nurture talent in the performing arts, with playwright and director Yokouchi Kensuke as its principal.
The academy students have spent their time here at the Kanagawa Youth Center receiving in-depth, practical lessons in vocal music, dance, and acting from top instructors in each field, honing their skills through friendly competition.
The work "Baito Show", which is the culmination of the academy students' efforts, has been performed in theater-in-theater format since its first performance in 2016, with the audience seating placed on top of a revolving stage at the Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center Momijizaka Hall, allowing the audience to rotate 360 degrees, using the entire theater as the stage. It has become a hot topic, and a total of five performances have been completed by 2020.

The Academy will be staging a new omnibus musical in March 2022.
Encounters and farewells, the passionate feelings and tears of young people, joy and bonds.
"Momijizaka Memories - Dedicated to those who climbed this hill" is an omnibus musical about the memories packed into Momijizaka Hill.

What is the thought behind this culmination of the Academy's work, which features all of its students?
We spoke with Yokouchi Kensuke, who is the writer and executive producer of the film.


Mr. Kensuke Yokouchi

The Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center: Mr. Yokouchi's starting point

The reason I decided to open the academy was because of a prefectural project to revitalize Kanagawa prefecture with culture as one of its pillars. At the time, various cultural figures with ties to Kanagawa prefecture, including myself, were approached.
When I heard about the goal of promoting arts and culture in Kanagawa Prefecture, the first thing that came to my mind was that I wanted to do something about the Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center, a place that was very important to me.
In an era when there was no such word as "workshop" as we know it today, the Kanagawa Youth Center was a pioneering and highly outstanding theater hall where famous up-and-coming playwrights and directors held seminars for high school students and hosted drama competitions for junior and senior high schools.
So, even though I was still a member of the drama club and was planning to quit soon, I saw Tsuka Kohei's "Atami Murder Case" for the first time, a play that would later become a masterpiece.

I was so amazed that there was such an interesting thing in the world, and my life changed completely.
The Youth Center was where I decided to pursue a career in theater, and it became my starting point, so to speak. My first play, which I wrote at the age of 16, inspired by Tsukasa-san, was performed at the Kanagawa Prefectural Theatre Convention held here.
This place, which shone as a mecca for young people who love art, has gradually been lost with the changing times. With this background in mind, I wanted to make this important place shine once again, and I think you could say I started this as a way of giving back in my own way.
And so, we decided to create a place to train young people specializing in theater, something that didn't exist in Kanagawa at the time, using the Youth Center as a stage. And we set a goal of creating a "school" specializing in theater in Kanagawa someday in the future.

Seriously aiming to develop professionals

Now that we have created a place, we need to train the staff properly. We set a goal of providing thorough training and raising "real professionals."
The instructors, including Lucky Ikeda and Keiko Fukasawa, taught sincerely and with all their heart.
However, it's not that easy to train a young person with no experience from scratch, and I struggled for the first two years or so (laughs).
It finally started to take shape around the third year, and gradually some of the students started going to music colleges or starting their acting careers professionally. It was definitely worth doing. Above all, it was very moving to be raising children the same age as I was back then in the place where I first discovered my love for acting.

A scene from "Baito Show"

"Baito Show" is the culmination of the hard work of the Academy students

In 2016, the academy students were finally able to perform.
It was called a theater-in-theater, and we created seats on the stage and rotated the audience, making full use of the stage in 360 degrees. To be honest, at first we were worried about the attendance of this theater, which can accommodate 1,000 people, so this idea was born out of trial and error, but it was a great success. It was a performance that could only be held at the Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center, which has a revolving stage.
And during the curtain call, he vowed, "One day I'll fill the auditorium."

A scene from "Baito Show"

A scene from the ending of "Baito Show"

The culmination of eight years of performing arts academy work, "Momijizaka Memories - Dedicated to those who climbed this hill"

The Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center is a mecca for theater and a sacred place for me.
To this day, many people, including myself, have climbed the hill with our own thoughts in mind, aiming for this place that stands at the top of Momijizaka Hill.
In particular, the story of the magistrate's office that flourished from the end of the Edo period through to the Meiji era is a subject that I have been interested in for a long time.
By tracing the history in this way, I created an omnibus-style, documentary-like work that tells the stories of the scenery, places and memories that this slope has seen.
As mentioned above, up until now we've had audience seats on the stage, but this time we'll be using real audience seats for the first time (lol). Furthermore, by removing about six rows of the front seats and using them as a stage, we will be creating an image of a slope in the entire venue.
The performance will include some of the famous scenes from the "Part-Time Job Show" that was born on this hill, and I hope you enjoy this culmination of our efforts.

Passing the baton to the next generation

As I mentioned at the beginning, when we founded this academy, our ultimate goal was to establish a school. In fact, that has come true. A performing arts department was established at Kanagawa Comprehensive High School in April 2021. This is a great thing, as it will be the first specialized department for studying performing arts at a public high school in the prefecture. And the students are scheduled to appear as volunteers in this performance.
I would like to use this performance as a place to continue what we have been doing up until now, which is to "nurture and learn from the real thing."
And of course there are the performers, but I also believe that, just like myself, there are some audience members who will be exposed to theater here at the Kanagawa Youth Center and go on to pursue theater or stage work in the future.
I'm really looking forward to that.

A message to graduating academy students

Hmm. I believe that each of them has been given a good seed and the first water. Some have started to sprout, and to be honest, some have not yet bloomed (laughs). But I planted good seeds, so I want them to find a sunny spot on their own until they bloom.
And I want you to treasure the bonds you have made here forever. Of course, I will treasure them too.
And someday, "Let's meet again on this hill!"

A message to those who want to study acting and aspiring future artists

Acting is very deep. For those of you who are just starting to become interested in theater and the stage, the world you see is probably still very narrow.
There's one thing I would like to say to all of you: take another step and look at the world from different perspectives.
Theater is not just about acting. Directing, composing, choreography, management... there are many worlds that you can only get involved in if you take one more step. I hope that you will find the place that is perfect for you.

In the interview, Yokouchi shared his pure passion for the Kanagawa Youth Center,
What impressed me was the very gentle atmosphere, filled with love and warm kindness towards the young people.
Once upon a time, a boy's life was changed when he encountered theater here, and now, in the same place, he is nurturing young people who will lead the theater world in the future.
I hope you will come and enjoy the many "memories" that will be on display.

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