© NAMEGAI Chiye
|Genre / City
|Theatre / Shizuoka
|25 April at 18:00, 26 April at 18:00, 29 April at 18:00
|at Open Air Theatre “UDO”, Shziuoka Performing Arts Park
|to be decided (less than 120 minutes)
|In Japanese with English subtitles
|SPAC- Shizuoka Performing Arts Center
Premiered in 1976, “Mary Poppins with her Upside-down Umbrella” was written by KARA Juro, a playwright and director who (along with TERAYAMA Shuji, SUZUKI Tadashi and SATO Makoto) was one of the underground theatre movement’s pivotal dramatists. At the age of 80, although KARA is still a leader of Japan’s contemporary theatre scene, this work — first staged by his Jokyo Gekijo company at its purpose-built theatre in Tokyo — has rarely been performed since then.
Now, though, SPAC’s General Artistic Director, MIYAGI Satoshi, is set to breathe fresh life into this short play as he directs and presents it at SPAC’s Open-air Theatre UDO in the hills above Shizuoka City.
Inspired by a famous 1970s scandal in Japan when a paranoid woman sued her pop singer idol, KARA’s storyline begins as a mysterious woman named Kana Ishikawa suddenly appears, just like Mary Poppins, at a house where two men were living — one, called Ochoko, who runs an umbrella shop; and a troubled chap named Higaki. But is Kana an angel or is she mad and bad?
Ochoko, who runs an umbrella shop near the Aiai Bridge, falls in love with Kana Ishikawa, a customer who asks him to repair her umbrella, and dreams of making one like Mary Poppins’ for her. Meanwhile Higaki, who Ochoko helped when he fell on hard times, and who lives for free in his house, realizes Kana was the woman at the center of a shocking scandal when she gave birth to the child of a famous pop singer. Then other mysteries surrounding Kana begin to emerge one after another — as Ochoko’s and Higaki’s lives are embroiled in turmoil.
General Artistic Director of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
Born in Tokyo in 1959, after studying aesthetics at Tokyo University under ODASHIMA Yushi, WATANABE Moriaki and HIDAKA Hachiro, he founded the KU NA’ UKA theater company in 1990 and soon began staging plays overseas as well as in Japan. As a result, MIYAGI’s work — in which he often fuses contemporary textual interpretations with physical techniques and patterns of Asian theatre — has long been acclaimed both at home and far abroad. Indeed, in 2004 he received the 3rd Asahi Performing Arts Award, and the next year the 2nd Asahi Beer Art Award.
Since taking up his position with SPAC in April 2007, MIYAGI has staged many of his own works — including “Medea”, the Hindu epic “Mahabharata”, and “Peer Gynt” — and has invited artists from abroad to present pieces casting a keen eye on the modern world as they see it. In line with his aim to make theatre “a window to the world,” he has also started a new SPAC-based project aimed at the youth of Shizuoka.
In 2014, MIYAGI was invited to the Festival d’Avignon, where he received excellent reviews for his open-air version of the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” staged in La Carrière de Boulbon. Following that landmark achievement, the festival extended the honor of inviting MIYAGI to present a Buddhist interpretation he created of the ancient Greek mythological tragedy “Antigone” as its super-prestigious opening program for 2017. On that occasion, which was the first time an Asian play had ever been selected to launch the festival, MIYAGI’s exalted “stage” was the open-air Cour d’honneur du Palais des papes (the Honor Court of the Palace of Popes). By the play’s end, those towering medieval stone walls were ringing out with long and splendid standing ovations welcoming the work’s director and creator along with SPAC’s actors and staff — while more than 60 European media all gave great reviews.
In 2018, he received the 68th Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize of Drama. Also he recieved “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” from the Ministry of Culture of France in 2018.
Born in Tokyo in 1940. Graduated from Meiji University with a degree in theatre. He founded Jokyo Gekijou (Situation Theatre) in 1963. With spirit and uniqueness, he experimented with outdoor theatre, which is how the small theatre movement began. In 1967, in Shinjuku Hanazono Shrine, the red tent was built for the first time and “Koshimaki Osen” was staged. Subsequent activities continued around the tent performances, as well as performances overseas. In 1970 KARA won the KISHIDA Drama Award with “Shojo Kamen” and in 1982 the AKUTAGAWA Award as well as other awards with “A Letter from Young Sagawa”. In 1988 he formed Karagumi. He has led the troupe and has continued at a pace where he is staging at least two new works a year. He has worked as an actor in theatre and film, and in addition appeared in dramas and commercials.
Direction: MIYAGI Satoshi
Text: KARA Juro
Set design: KAMIIKE Takuya
Cast: SPAC/IZUMI Yoji, OKUNO Akihito, KASUGAI Ippei, KATAOKA Sachiko, KAWAMURA Wakana, KIUCHI Kotoko, SUZUKI Haruyo, SEKINE Junko, TAKII Miki, NAGAI Sayako, MAKIYAMA Yudai, MIYASHITA Yasuyuki
Production: SPAC-Shizuoka Performing Arts Center
English subtitle translation: Mika EGLINTON, Andrew EGLINTON
*Admission to auditorium is restricted to children of school age and over.
*Seats with no backrest
*Performances will be held even if it rains. As the use of umbrellas is not permitted during a performance, please ensure you have suitable rainwear. You are also advised to bring warm clothes for night performances at this time of year.