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Kanagawa Musical Summit (Part 1)

かながわミュージカルサミット(前編)

Yokosuka Citizen Musical Making Association (SUKA Mu)

Kumi Yamazaki, representative of SUKA Mu (left) and staff Ms. Mita (right)
Kumi Yamazaki, representative of SUKA Mu (right) and staff Ms. Mita (left)

-- I saw your website. It's a project with a long history.

Mr. Yamazaki: That's right. It started in 2001, so it's been 15 years. It all started when artists who were originally from Yokosuka decided to create an original Yokosuka musical. Using the history, legends, and buildings of Yokosuka as the subject matter, we unearth stories that even citizens don't know about, so that people in the city know what Yokosuka was like and what the history is. , To those outside the city, it will be an advertisement for the city.
Also, we do not have any eligibility requirements. There is no upper age limit for elementary school students and above. So, (calling out to the white-haired member in the dressing room) there is also an 84-year-old this year. Dancing may be difficult, but if you have passion, you can stand on stage, sing, and participate even a little. There are people of all ages, so in the form of interaction between generations, small children can learn a lot from adults, and elderly people can get energy from children. Generation) There is also a purpose to expand the connection between both.

−− Please tell us about the fun of creating a civic musical.

Yamazaki-san: A musical has everything from "singing, dancing, and acting", so it's a very difficult hurdle for people who have never done it before to jump into it, but we tell them that it's okay to have no experience. The teachers are all professionals and will guide you in a way that suits you.
However, I am careful not to turn it into a school arts festival. It's not about having small children at the front and all the lines are evenly distributed, but it's about quality, so it's strict in that sense. I keep something like this in mind. There are some children who graduated from SUKA Mu and have gone on to become professionals, so I want to open up such possibilities for small children, and I want it to be a place where older people can continue to live with a sense of purpose. I think there is such a pleasure.

An act of "Nami and Charu: Civilization and enlightenment began in Yokosuka!"
An act of "Nami and Charu: Civilization and enlightenment began in Yokosuka!"

−− Thank you. What kind of performance is this time?

Mr. Yamazaki: This time, it is the stage called "Nami and Charu", which is the only series work of SUKA Mu. A girl named Nami who lives in Yokosuka and Sarushima have a story called "Legend of the White Monkey", and the white monkey's son Charu visits Yokosuka in the past.
This time, the stage is the end of the Edo period, and the Yokosuka Arsenal, which later became a shipyard, was the first French-style dock in Japan. Just last year was the 150th anniversary of the Yokosuka Arsenal, and it was featured extensively. It is a story in which the people of Yokosuka Village, who are caught up in the war, and Nami and Charu, who see it, think about and find out what is important.

An act of "Nami and Charu: Civilization and enlightenment began in Yokosuka!"
An act of "Nami and Charu: Civilization and enlightenment began in Yokosuka!"

−− I hope that through this Musical Summit, I will be able to bring excitement to civic musicals.

Yamazaki: I want as many people as possible to feel the joy of being on stage and being in the spotlight. It may be an exaggeration, but it should change to the power to live. By all means, let's liven up citizen musicals together.

With the main performance scheduled for the following week, SUKA Myuu put on a wonderful performance as the top batter of the Musical Summit. You said that this was your first performance in three years, but I don't think the audience felt that. As Mr. Yamazaki said, the story based on the historical facts of Yokosuka was interesting and captivating even though it was a short stage of 30 minutes.

Theater Poka Poka

Gekidan Poka Poka representative Toshiko Kogure (far right) and member Sato (far left)
Gekidan Poka Poka representative Toshiko Kogure (far right) and member Sato (far left)

−− Please tell us about the origin of the theater company.

Ms. Kogure: It all started 20 years ago when four or five fellow nursery teachers were having a chat about how it would be nice if they could do cultural activities for their parents and children. There were some puppet shows, but there weren't many plays.
Manabu Inoue (Secretary General of the Kanagawa Prefectural Theater Federation) wrote the script for us, and when we performed for the first time at Kamigo Mori no Ie, it was full, and two years later, when we moved to Sakae Public Hall, it was still full. Parents and children have few opportunities to experience cultural activities such as concerts, so I felt a strong demand for being able to see a play close to me. That made me feel better, and before I knew it, I came to the 20th anniversary performance in June this year.
We spend half a year preparing for the annual performance. I make the costumes, write the music, compose the music, make the props, and even write the original script. Because there are copyrights and royalties, it costs money to use existing ones. I think the fact that everything was handmade was a good result.

– How do you feel about your relationship with the community?

Mr. Kogure: I think it is very important that we have a fixed base and a rehearsal room. The Council of Social Welfare in Sakae Ward, Yokohama City provides us with a rehearsal space, and we invite people with disabilities to our performances, so we are grateful for their kindness. Also, we use the Sakae Public Hall every year, and this year's performance seems to have filled 2009 seats. If you include children on your lap, there should be more. The reason why we can attract so many people is because we always use the same rehearsal room and the same hut.
In fact, we do not claim to be a "children's theater company" at all. Nevertheless, the reason why it looks like a children's theater company is because they participate as a parent and child. There are parents and people who go on stage, and the whole family participates in various roles, such as costumes and props.

costume storyboard
costume storyboard

−− Being able to participate as a parent and child is a valuable experience.

Mr. Kogure: That's right. It seems that the topic is born even at home, or that the scene in the play was wonderful, and it seems that family members will talk about how it can be done in this way.

Mr. Sato: I have been participating for 7 years since the 6th grade of elementary school, took a break for 8 years, and returned this year for the first time in a while. Poka Poka is a place where mothers and fathers can get together, and it is a place where the whole family can work together. My mother was also doing sound and acting. Not only the people who appear on the stage, but also all the props, props, costumes, and lighting will be created.

−− That seems to be one of the interesting things about civic musicals.

Mr. Kogure: It's called subconsciousness or potential. At Poka Poka, we want people to find out what they can do. I never thought I could write a script. At the time of the third performance, the director asked me to write a script.
Even with props, fathers form a team called "Doufu" at the center. We gather at the gymnasium on Saturdays and Sundays to make props, and our families also gather there. Even people who have never done props will notice the fun. Sense is important in production, and mothers also demonstrate such things. The mothers sewed up the wonderful costume designs made by the members, and thanks to everyone, the plane script I made became more and more three-dimensional. It's not just the members who appear on the stage, but on the day of the performance, about 100 staff members are involved.

Act of "Alice" ~From Alice in Wonderland~
Act of "Alice" ~From Alice in Wonderland~

−− Please give a message to people who are interested in civic musicals and Poka Poka

Mr. Kogure: Expressing yourself and having your own place in a different space like a stage is full of discoveries and growth. In Kanagawa Prefecture, I think there are many local theater companies that are familiar and easy to participate in. You can make new friends, find a different you, and learn how wonderful it is to express yourself out loud.
If you show that you really worked hard, people will tell you that you did a good job. That joy is the privilege of those who go on stage.

Sato-san: Poka Poka is like a big family. A mother scolds a child from another family, an older sister scolds a small child, or a child is taken care of. It's a place where friends and family grow.

A lively dressing room with many children is just like a big family. On the stage, the original story of Alice in Wonderland was colored with gorgeous costumes and splendid props. The stage was so well made that you wouldn't believe it was all handmade, and the smiling faces of the performers left an impression on me.

→In the second part, we will introduce an interview with Kohoku Kumin Musical in Kohoku Ward, Yokohama City and Yaei High School ARTLiVE in Sagamihara City.

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