2022/5/31 -News Talk “Setagaya Public Theater New Artistic Director Appointment Event -Thinking about the Role of the Artistic Director in a Public Theater-” Report


The Setagaya Public Theater, which celebrated its 25th anniversary since its opening, welcomed Akira Shirai as its new artistic director on April 2022, 4.To commemorate this new start, a talk event was held on April 1, inviting the artistic directors of each public theater.The speakers will be Artistic Director Shirai, Artistic Director Eriko Ogawa of the New National Theatre, Artistic Director Ryohei Kondo of Saitama Arts Theater, and Artistic Director Keishi Nagatsuka of KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater. Actor Narikawa who has appeared in many.The candid and passionate dialogue about the new possibilities of the theater was very lively, and the audience, filled up to the third floor, listened intently.We will deliver a report of the talk that makes you feel the future of the performing arts.



What is your job as an art director?


Narukawa  Thank you very much for coming to our booth.I'm Narukawa, an actor who is in charge of the talk show today.Akira Shirai was appointed as the new artistic director of the Setagaya Public Theater in April.Today, we have invited the artistic directors of each theater to think about the future of the performing arts, what kind of work an artistic director should be in the first place, and what kind of role they should play in the future. I thinkWe would like to introduce you to the speakers.Akira Shirai, artistic director of Setagaya Public Theater (hereafter Public Theater), Eriko Ogawa of the New National Theater (hereafter Shinkuni), Ryohei Kondo of Sai no Kuni Saitama Arts Theater (hereafter Saigei), KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater (hereafter Saigei) KAAT)'s Keishi Nagatsuka.I have the experience of working with all of these artistic directors and directors, and I was honored to be nominated as MC.They are people I respect and know very well, so I will first ask you frankly. (To Ogawa) Did you want to be an artistic director in the first place?


Ogawa      Eh, from me? (Laughs) The job of artistic director is not based on a nomination system.When I first heard about it, I was so surprised that I couldn't help but stand up and simply ask, "Why me?"How was it everyone?

(I.e.       I don't really know what kind of work the artistic director does.Look, it's not even on the job information site (everyone laughs)

Nagatsuka       I was honestly surprised when I received the offer from KAAT.So my first impression is that I was given an unexpected opportunity.

Shirai       I myself served as the artistic director of KAAT before the Setagaya Public Theater (April 2016-March 4), but Kazumi Kushida, Yukio Ninagawa, Tadashi Suzuki, and so on. I was very surprised because I was of the generation who had seen him, but the first thing I thought was, "It's an honor."But before I accepted the offer, I asked Director Jun Mano, "What does an artistic director do?"

(I.e.       I am very relieved now.Mr. Shirai also asked about your work.

Shirai       I heard.Then he said, ``There is no clear rule that Japanese artistic directors must do this.This is really the right word, and everyone should think about it.So now that Mr. Nagatsuka has taken over as artistic director of KAAT, I would like Mr. Nagatsuka to proceed with his ideas.

Ogawa       I was also in a state where I was wondering what an artistic director would do, so I was with Tamiya Kuriyama, Hitoshi Uyama, and Keiko Miyata, who were the artistic directors of Shinkoku. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Shirai       I had the opportunity to be invited as a director by those three, and my experience at that time has become a very useful reference for me now.

Ogawa       Talking about experience was very helpful.By talking with everyone, I was able to learn about the history and transition of the theater, and after that I was able to reconsider what was expected of me as an artistic director.This is my opinion, but I think it is important that the term of office is clear.Each theater has an artistic director with a different personality, and it is important to take responsibility for adding color to the theater.At the same time, I think we should continue to exchange information like this.

Shirai       The New National Theatre, Tokyo has a fixed term of office.I think this is great.How it starts and ends is important, and it is also necessary to inherit new things.

Ogawa       Is KAAT a five-year term?

Nagatsuka       5 term is XNUMX years. There is no rule of only one term, but the first artistic director, Amon Miyamoto, and Akira Shirai both retired after one term, so no one has served two terms in a row yet.Our seniors were the people who became artistic directors when the public theater facility was just in its infancy.Times have changed, and I feel that what we are looking for in an artistic director has also changed.I have absolutely no intention of criticizing or criticizing what has happened so far, but I also think that discussion of the term of office will be a necessary issue in the future.

Shirai       Certainly, I believe that the time has come to think about how public theaters should be in a new era.Before I was appointed as KAAT's artistic director, I had a two-year preparation period with the title of "Artistic Advisor."Mr. Nagatsuka was the same, and I think that it is a good system if it becomes established from now on.I asked KAAT to do this with reference to the new country system.

(I.e.       My work as artistic director began in earnest in April of this year, but a year before my appointment, I was given the title of “next artistic director,” and there was a period of preparation.I've been interviewed by multiple media since last year, but it's interesting to talk to the reporters.As you talk, the amount of things that person speaks increases more and more than you do...In short, they have high expectations for you. Everyone comes up with really good ideas, like, "Wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out like this?"

Nagatsuka       Within the fixed term of office, I will enrich the theater and entrust it to the next energy.The news of the appointment of a new artistic director must have the feeling that the theater is moving.I think this is one of the benefits of having a term.

Ogawa       It's your metabolism.Because I think that what cannot be achieved in one generation can be achieved by connecting many generations.What I can leave to the next generation and what I can pass on is a big theme for me.


How to open a theater for local people


Narukawa       I have a story that I really like, but could you tell us about how you focused on cafes?

Ogawa       Shinkuni is a sharp and cool building, but I thought it would give a cold impression to people who have never set foot in it.When I thought about how to do something about this difficult atmosphere, I wanted to do something about the appearance of the small theater's cafe counter, which can be seen from people passing by Hatsudai Station.We gave detailed opinions on the interior and proceeded with the preparations, but due to the corona crisis, it sadly has never been opened (bitter smile).It can't be helped.

Shirai       I heard that you were particular about the design of the cup.

Ogawa       That's right.If we don't keep in mind that we are constantly changing into an exciting place, the theater will end up closing off as a space.

Narukawa       After all, it is very important for an artistic director to envision the future and talk about his ideals, but in reality, he has to solve the things that are not flashy one by one, one by one.

Nagatsuka       For me as well, how to open a theater has always been a problem. At the entrance on the first floor of KAAT, there is an open space surrounded by glass called the "Atrium".Anyone can enter here, not just those who came to see the theater.It's a shared space where you can take a break, open your computer and work, and spend your time freely.Besides, if you were here, people would come down from the upper floors to see the performance, and their heat would pass by you.I think that the afterimage should remain in the person.But while I was having such a consultation, I got the coronavirus.

Shirai       Mr. Nagatsuka made many proposals for such things from the time I joined.In fact, I think the flow of people near the entrance has changed.

Nagatsuka       In the spring of last year, when I directed a six-hour play called "Osho" -Trilogy-, I built a special theater like a playhouse in the atrium.People passing by happen to stop for a moment and ask, "What is this?"I think that it is also an important mechanism to accumulate such things.

(I.e.       Your theater is in an urban building, but there are lots of fields around Saigei, so there aren't many people coming and going (everyone laughs).Therefore, unless we work together with the local community to come up with various mechanisms for inviting people, it will be difficult to achieve a situation in which people come and go.This is our big problem.Also, there is a distance from the station to the theater, so I really want you to be "excited" on the way, but you'll be exhausted by the time you get there.That's why, half jokingly, half seriously, I want to run a tuk-tuk!I'm saying.Once you get on the train, you'll arrive at the theater while the people sitting next to you are chatting with each other, saying, "We're going to see the same stage, aren't we?"

Shirai       However, the small performances have various ingenuity, such as the handprints of the actors on the way to the theater and the famous lines of Shakespeare.Public theaters, on the other hand, have problems unique to the city, and even though there is a tremendous flow of people, there are many people who don't even know that there is a theater here.The other day, I took a taxi and was shocked when a man who had been a driver for 20 years said, "I didn't know there was a theater here."

Nagatsuka       It's true that when you come here by taxi, you say "to the Carrot Tower", but I may have never said "to the Setagaya Public Theater"... I've decided to say it tomorrow (everyone laughs).From now on, when you take a taxi, the theater people should repeat that the theater is on top of the carrot tower.Come to think of it, even when I go to the New National Theatre, I say "up to Opera City".Again, say "to the New National Theater next to Opera City" in full sentences.

Narukawa       In the past, when I asked to go to the New National Theatre, I was surprised when I was dropped off at the National Theater (everyone laughs).

Ogawa  I understand!Recently, I've been able to wear it to Hatsudai (laughs).


Authority of Artistic Director


Narukawa       Based on the Western theater model, Japanese artistic directors do not have the power to execute personnel affairs and budgets.Japanese culture and national character is unique, so I think it's one proof that everything doesn't fit into the Western model. .

Shirai       For example, at the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), where Mr. Satoshi Miyagi serves as General Artistic Director, all authority is given to the artistic director, and I heard that it was a system built by his predecessor, the first General Artistic Director, Tadashi Suzuki. I'm here.Shizuoka has achieved great results, but when I think about myself now, I don't think I can say unequivocally that it would be better if the artistic director had authority over personnel affairs and the execution of the budget.It's hard.It's a very difficult problem.

Narukawa       You can't just say "it's good to have it" or "it's bad because it doesn't exist".

Shirai       I really think so.If you have the budget, the possibilities of what you can do will expand.However, the brakes are also effective when you see the reality.There are also difficulties in terms of human resources.There is also a history that the theater has accumulated.I recognize that the current way of doing things is to skillfully share good things, difficult things, and new things with everyone, drink together, and play the role of an artistic leader.We don't have a system like a professional baseball team where all the coaches change when the manager changes.

Narukawa       It can be said that it is a system that does not concentrate power and responsibility in one place.

Shirai       Well, I think there is also that.

Nagatsuka       In order to start this discussion, I think it would be good if there was a situation in which theaters of various sizes all over the country had artistic directors, and that there should be a structure in which the Japanese theater world and artistic directors could gradually accumulate experience.In England, even a small theater has an artistic director, and you can take steps to go to a big theater.There aren't many places like that in Japan these days.

Shirai       Mr. Ogawa, you were studying theater in the United States.

Ogawa       In the United States, there are more production performances than theater companies, and compared to Europe, there are not many so-called public theaters.In the past, I asked a Korean artistic director that he doesn't handle everything by himself, but rather teams up with a chief producer.The person who has the budget and the person who advances the artistic direction divides the roles.In France, in England, in America, and in Germany, there are theaters where two people work together.

Narukawa       What do you think is the best form for Japan at the moment?

Ogawa       Rather than finding the optimal answer right now, I believe that we should take a long-term view in order to come up with an answer.Each theater has a different situation and way of thinking, so I think it would be nice if each theater could choose.

Nagatsuka       Setting up a forum like this for the artistic directors of each theater to discuss things would be a forum for discussion, and I also think that solidifying the system of public theaters in Japan is still in the future.First of all, how well do you know about theater itself?To that end, it is important to show that the theater itself is acting properly and moving actively.I feel that the time will come when we can get people who have never visited a theater to know that there is a theater in the city, and after preparing the environment, we will start thinking about it in earnest.


Works that should be performed in public theaters and their balance


Narukawa       Dance is an expression that transcends language, so there is an image that international exchange is also active.Mr. Kondo, what do you think about that?

(I.e.       It's true that dance is non-verbal, so there are aspects of it that transcend national boundaries, but in the true sense of the word, it's not that easy to "exchange."It's relatively easy to take/bring your work with you, but...In short, there are lots of interesting things and not so interesting things (laughs).The first artistic director of Saigei was composer and music critic Makoto Moroi, and the second was director Yukio Ninagawa.And it is a theater that I, the third generation, have connected with dance people in different genres such as music, theater, and dance.Therefore, as a person who promotes dance, I want to explore what I can see by approaching dance from that perspective, I want to take on challenges, and I want to think about how theater should be.

Narukawa       I have seen many wonderful dance works in Saigei so far, so I have high expectations.So let's change direction a bit and ask the big question.I think that public projects need to have the attitude of reaching as many audiences as possible.However, in the current situation, if we try to increase the mobilization, in the end, it seems to be the actual situation that we have to rely on a large number of conventional theater fans and a specific fan base of actors who have ticket sales. increase.What kind of activities or systems do you think are necessary for public theaters in the future in order to acquire a true diversity of audiences, rather than a simple attendance number?Or what is currently preventing it?

Nagatsuka       Mr. Shirai, please (everyone laughs).

Shirai       This is a really hard question.To open a theater to many people, to present edgy works to the world, and to attract customers.Sometimes this balance is in harmony, and sometimes it is in conflict.I don't think many theaters would be able to operate 365 days a year with the money they receive from the government alone.In other words, in order to balance the income and expenditure, the theater also has to generate its own electricity.To that end, for example, there are performances where popular actors appear.It's not like I'm defiant, but I can't necessarily say that it's "bad" either.Everyone who wants to see the actor is also a public, a customer.Isn't it important to create such opportunities?Also, in my case, I don't want to confine performing arts, including dance, to small things that only a few people want, and I always want to cause incidents, so I'm going to work with actors and artists who have the power to attract audiences. I think that the act of making things is also necessary.Mr. Kushida used to say, "We cause incidents in theaters," but this is like a textbook word for me.In addition, Makoto Sato, the first theater director of the Public Theater, raised the slogan, "Theater is a square."That's why it's good for so many people to come together.It's also a 'plaza' for us to talk with everyone gathered like this today.And to get a lot of people to come to such a project, it is necessary to have topicality and the ability to communicate.

Nagatsuka       As a practical matter, I think that Mr. Shirai is right.Of course, I am also reluctant to focus on having well-known actors perform, but it is something that makes theater feel very familiar, and makes people who have never seen a play say, "Wow, I know. I think it's necessary to have a stage where actors who make you want to see them appear. Kanagawa Prefecture, where KAAT is located, extends to the west, so it's relatively easy to access from Tokyo, but it's difficult to come from the other side of the prefecture. It is also necessary to create topics that will encourage people to visit KAAT.At the same time, in the KAAT Kanagawa Tour Project "Adventurers ~JOURNEY TO THE WEST~", which Mr. Narikawa also appeared on the other day, in order to meet new customers and convey the charm of theater, XNUMX prefectures It was a project that toured cities. (*)I think it is necessary to create a system to invite new customers to the theater and to go out and meet the audience.

Narukawa       At the New National Theatre, Tokyo, there is a Kotsu Kotsu Project - Development - where the director, artistic director, and production staff hold repeated trial performances every few months.You also have performances with a full audition system.

Ogawa       First of all, when it comes to attracting customers, I agree 100% with Mr. Shirai and Mr. Nagatsuka.I just want the casting to be normal, just to face the work without being bound by various things, and in the sense that I can deliver information to actors who are not in the agency, the form of full audition is effective.Many people apply every time, so we want to increase the number of performances, but we don't have enough manpower... and so on. Speaking about the Kotsu Kotsu Project, the usual stage rehearsals last about a month.But I often feel like, “Isn’t this enough?”Of course, I think there are people who have the ability to do it during this period, but I think it's healthy for a manufacturing site to have the option of spending time creating.There is a bitterness to say "project" forever.There is a lot of pressure in a project that has to produce immediate results.However, in reality, there are things that cannot be changed all at once, and I think it is important to have plans that can be advanced over time.

(I.e.       Performing arts are extremely interesting even during the rehearsal period, which cannot be called a “work”. Projects that find value in the process, like the Kotsu Kotsu Project, are very interesting, and I'd like to hear more about them from Mr. Ogawa next time (laughs).Dance performances are very short, lasting only two or three days.Also, the possibility of building a relationship with the customer during the creative process is very rich.I felt that there would be no such thing as a customer enjoying the state of creation and creating value.No matter what the site, there is a tendency to seek only "performance = result".

Nagatsuka       This also leads to the discussion of whether or not we should pay for the rehearsal period, that is, the process of making things.Thinking about this, I think public theaters can actually change just by changing the way we think.

Narukawa      In Japan, that story doesn't quite work as common sense.

Shirai       Currently in Japan, the guarantee is paid for one performance, but in many cases overseas, the guarantee is also paid for rehearsals.However, due to the influence of the corona disaster, there is a movement to tighten the contract system.

Nagatsuka       In the future, it will be important to know what kind of compensation will be provided in the event of unforeseen circumstances.Going back a little bit, there is a topic that came to mind when I talked about creation over time.When I was studying abroad in the UK under the Agency for Cultural Affairs' Overseas Study Program for Upcoming Artists, I had the opportunity to visit the National Theater for several months.At that time, the stage called "War Horse", which was also a Spielberg movie, was a work they were proud of.That was created over a long rehearsal period, and it's a masterpiece like the crystallization of various developments.For me, that is one of the ideals of a public theater.There is tremendous quality and scale, and it doesn't matter if the actors are famous or unknown.I don't know if I can do it during my term, but I secretly have a dream.

(I.e.       Come to think of it, let's talk about the format in which actors participate in society, which Mr. Narikawa told us earlier in the dressing room.

Narukawa       picture! (Looking at the audience) Everyone, please listen on the premise that it's just a dream (laughs).There are many performers in performing arts.A system in which public theaters gather such human resources as a hub, and when information comes from public facilities such as schools and facilities for the elderly that ``this kind of person is needed now,'' they are hired or dispatched to participate in society. I had a chat in the dressing room saying, "Isn't it interesting?"It is said that dancers have nursing care skills and actors have high communication skills, and there are actually examples overseas that utilize these skills.There is also the difficult issue of who should judge and assess the skill, and I think that individual opinions differ completely regarding the social participation of performers. ……Is this kind of thing okay? (Laughter) Is that even possible?

Shirai       It may be similar to the concept of being a theater exclusive performer or artist in residence.However, at present, it is difficult to ask the performers to "Please be on standby at all times just for the public theater. Please do not appear in any other productions."Of course, there is also the issue of theater budgets.But if it's a project that you really want to do, you can work backwards from there and think about how to design the economy of the theater.Everything is about passion.If you have an instinctive desire, I think you should find a way to realize any business.By the way, the Public Theater has been focusing on the curatorial business since its opening when Makoto Sato was the theater director.Professional performers participate in workshops at elementary and junior high schools in Setagaya, and mobile theaters that bring plays to facilities for the elderly.I feel that if we all work together to expand the possibilities of actors and theater, what Mr. Narikawa says is not impossible.

Narukawa       thank you.After all, performers are completely naked, so if you can send them to various places, I think they can become the seeds that connect the audience and the theater.Although it is regrettable, the end time is approaching soon.Lastly, could you give a word of encouragement to Artistic Director Akira Shirai?

Nagatsuka       Until March of last year, he was the artistic director of KAAT, and from April of this year, he was the artistic director of the Public Theater. I want him to go on a rampage while making the most of his experience at KAAT, and I'm looking forward to it.

(I.e.       For me, my encounter with Mr. Shirai was the choreography of "The Little Prince".At that time, Mr. Shirai said, "I like music, dance, and theatre." I am encouraged by Mr. Shirai, and I support Mr. Shirai.Thank you for your continued support.

Ogawa       It's presumptuous of me to send you a shout out, but I was really happy when I heard that Mr. Shirai was going to be the artistic director.And I don't think it's that easy to invite someone like this to say, "Let's talk."I think I will continue to respect him as a respected senior, and I would be happy if Mr. Shirai could serve as artistic director in a relaxed and enjoyable way.

Shirai       Thank you very much for joining us today.I was able to get various hints for what I couldn't verbalize by talking about it.It's a difficult time for theater culture due to the coronavirus, but I would like to continue to have a strong desire to do something like this and do my best to make this place a lively place.

*Some of the tour performances have been canceled due to the confirmation of the positive of the new corona in the people involved in the performances.




Text/Fumiko Kawazoe Photography/Aki Tanaka

Setagaya Public Theater New Artistic Director Inauguration Event -Thinking about the Role of the Artistic Director in a Public Theater- Click here for more information.

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