of us like nothing more than to relax in front
of our favorite DVD or to chow down on some
caramel coated popcorn as we take in the latest
that Hollywood has to offer. Being one of
these people myself, I was somewhat reluctant
to spend time experiencing a live theatrical
performance in Japan. But there is something
very magical about a show being performed
without the benefit of post production, unlimited
takes and the myriad of onsite workers required
to produce today’s Hollywood blockbusters.
first time I saw a stage show in Nagoya
was about 3 years ago when I had the opportunity
to see a friend play the lead role in Lend
Me a Tenor. This proved to be an experience
I revel to this day. Since then, I have
been fortunate enough to see a variety of
Nagoya Players productions including their
rendition of the Japanese classic, Rashomon
and their latest, What the Butler Saw, a
Joe Orton comedy classic, originally performed
in 1969 that made a return to the stage
for the Players’ 30th anniversary.
my introduction to the Players, I was aware
of the many talented foreign musicians, graphic
artists and writers, but didn’t discover
that Nagoya has a rich theatrical component
until I saw the Nagoya Players put on the
aforementioned performance; it was stunning.
I think one of the many things that really
stuck with me was the fact that, as a stage
performer, you really get only one shot to
make it work. No cries of, “cut”
from the director, or a quick brush up on
someone’s make up mid-performance. It
all has to work- in one sitting! It looked
exciting. It almost felt as if I could be
up there performing too.
fact is that I can… and so can you.
allow me to give you a little bit of background
on the Nagoya Players community theatre
in May, 1975 by English professor Michael
Horne, the Nagoya Players was formed to
provide English language theatre to the
community. Their very first meeting was
held in Horne’s backyard. Given their
appearance and level of professionalism
today, however, you wouldn’t have
thought their beginnings would have been
so humble. The Nagoya Players have put on
57 shows to date and have nearly 50 members
of both foreign and Japanese nationalities.
audience members, we only get a glimpse of
what is required for a performance to be pulled
off; there is a lot of iceberg under the water,
so to speak.
performance takes around three and a half
months to put together, with rehearsals occupying
a full Sunday every week. However, as you
can imagine, there is a great deal more that
goes into the production. For example, after
a show has been selected for performance,
the director needs to submit a set plan to
a company that produces props and sets. This
plan then has to be rendered and adjustments
have to be made to the rendering before the
final “OK” is given for production
to commence. All this can take quite a bit
of money. On average, a stage set will cost
in the neighborhood of 400,000 yen to produce.
However, sometimes this price can skyrocket,
depending on the complexity of the set.
course, there are other costs that can only
be measured in time. I asked one of the Nagoya
Players how he managed to remember all the
lines from a two hour show.
school, I have used a method by which I read
the play many, many, many times and then,
as my confidence and understanding increase,
I will cover certain sections of the script,
uncovering each section one sentence at a
time and only after I have said it perfectly,
word for word. If I make a mistake, it’s
back to the beginning of the section for me.
Once you get “off book” (a term
used for not looking at the script), then
the real learning takes place because you
get to act the part instead of just reading
is dedication and as you can imagine, a very
time consuming exercise.
how does someone get a part in a Players performance?
there are three main criteria. First the actor
must visually fit the part. Of course, the
director has a large say in setting these
criteria as he or she will have already formulated
an image of the ideal physical fit for each
an actor must have a real understanding
of the character (s)he is to portray. When
interacting with other would-be actors during
an audition, an actor must listen and react
as their character would and be sure to
refrain from the mere regurgitation of her/his
final requirement is the ability to improvise.
A director needs room to work with an actor.
Having a limited ability to improvise may
hurt an actor’s chances of getting
the part. Indeed, a director may even select
an actor with less raw acting talent but
more improvisation skills.
the end, however, all of these attributes
must be tied together with a passion for
the part and the performance.
interesting, doesn’t it? Like I said
before, you can be a part of the Nagoya
Players. If acting isn’t your style,
you might want to try your hand at sound
production, make-up artistry, costume design
or even ticket sales. Everyone is welcome
to contribute something. Be aware though,
if you decide to join this wonderful group
of individuals, and are accepted, your commitment
needs to be unquestionable. It is a lot
of hard work and there are a lot of long
hours involved. Just remember though, at
curtain call, after all the joy, sweat and
tears, you will be taking away something
that you and your audience will remember
all those interested, please send an email
specifying what you would like to contribute
to the Players’ next production. The
group will be more than happy to answer
those of you who would like to experience
the magic that the Nagoya Players have to
offer as an actor, helper or audience member,
check out their website at www.nagoyaplayers.org
for news on their latest productions.