Fukushima – A Silent Prayer of Poetry at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Dramatic personal portrait of Japan’s Fukushima disaster to show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

When a powerful earthquake struck the coast of Japan on the afternoon of 11th March 2011, no one was to know the levels of destruction and carnage that would ensue in the following hours. The Tohoku earthquake triggered a tsunami which hit the Eastern coast of the country, causing devastating damage to the coastal towns and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear facility, triggering fears of a nuclear meltdown.

Aeriel footage managed to capture the wide scale destruction the tsunami caused, however, news on the ground was restricted and those in the affected areas began to take to social media sites to spread the word about what was happening.

One of those people was Ryoichi Wago, a poet living in Fukushima City, who began using Twitter to communicate his feelings about the disaster, providing those living outside the region with a candid and deeply personal insight into the impact of this catastrophe. It is this poetry that forms the script for the production Fukushima – A Silent Prayer of Poetry, showing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 15th – 19th August 2012.

Over a year has passed since the tsunami first struck, yet the bulk of information we receive about the aftermath of the disaster is still limited and does not carry the voices and experiences of the people who still live amongst the devastation. Ryoichi Wago’s poetry portrays the ‘spirit’ of these people.

The play’s director, Eiko Sansaki, in discussing her aims and hopes for the project, states: “We hope that the spirit of the victims will touch people from Japan to Edinburgh….Twitter made it possible for people to convey what was happening in real-time in Fukushima and people all over the world heard what was happening almost instantaneously. With this performance, we humbly ask you to spare a moment to consider the forces of nature and nuclear power, the strength and emotions of those affected by the disaster, and finally living for a sustainable future.”

Fukushima – A Silent Prayer of Poetry is presented as a 60 minute reading show drawing influence from traditional Japanese arts such as Tsugaru Shamisen music from the Tohoku region, performed by Hibiki Ichikawa and Yoshinori Hayashi. Stephen Connery-Brown voices the words of Ryoichi Wago. The show will then be followed by a 20-minute discussion hosted by Swedish journalist Elin Lindqvist, author of Fukushima Colours, a new book revealing the individual stories of those affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami [Fukushima Colours review coming to Haikugirl’s Japan soon!].

About the Drama Education Company:

A cross-cultural theatre group made up of volunteers from the UK and Japan wishing to help raise awareness and funds for charity work in Fukushima City and the areas affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Director Eiko Sansaki’s adaptation of Ryoichi Wago’s poetry highlights the way that social media has been transformed into an art form, and attempts to convey the personal experience of one man living through terrifying uncertainty.

Steven Connery-Brown: Trained at East 15 Acting School, his past stage work includes Josefino in Second Skin Theatre’s La Chunga at the Phoenix Artist Club (2012), The Man in Catalan playwright Josep M. Benet i Jornet’s UK premiere of Desig(Desire) at the White Bear Theatre. He also played Sir Peter Teazle in Jessica Swale’s production of A School for Scandal, and Shylock in a tour of The Merchant of Venice for Clockhouse Theatre Company.

Ryoichi Wago: Ryoichi Wago is a poet who was born in Fukushima in 1968. He won the 4th Chuya Nakahara Prize for his first poetry book, After, in 1998 and the 47th Bansui Prize for his fourth poetry book, Earth Brain Psalms, in 2006. He is a high school teacher, and is also known as a lyricist and radio personality.

Elin Lindqvist: Elin was born in Tokyo in 1982 and currently lives in England. She has studied at New York University in New York and Sophia University in Tokyo. She is an international writer, and has published three novels in Swedish. Elin also works as a freelance journalist, dramaturge and translator. In her book, Fukushima Colours, she documents the aftermath of the crisis, in collaboration with a Japanese journalist and photographer.

Joji Hirota: Joji Hirota was born in Hokkaido in North Japan. At the age of eleven, he began a lifelong study of percussion and has been composing from the age of thirteen. In 1972 he came to England to become the director and percussionist of the Red Buddah Theatre and has lived here ever since. Joji has played on numerous sessions for a wide variety of artists, and has recorded several solo albums, his latest album is Japanese Folk Songs which features hauntingly beautiful melodies that create images of traditional life in Japan. Joji produced and performed Esashioiwake – Requiem, a tribute to the victims of the Tohoku disaster, alongside Jean Claude Walters and The London Metropolitan Ensemble. The performance was shown in London, Los Angeles, and was also performed before audiences in Japan.

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Venue: Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall, Venue 278, 22 Hanover St, (Up from National Gallery) Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Dates: Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Time: 19:45 (1hr20)
Tickets: £10 / concs £7 (Group Discount 10% for groups of 10+)
Venue box office: 0131 220 5911 | Fringe box office: 0131 226 0000
For more information visit: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/fukushima-a-silent-prayer-of-poetry

If you’re in Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe (3rd – 27th August) or the Edinburgh International Festival (9th August – 2nd September) and want to check out other Japan-related shows and performances, check out this handy list to help you plan your time!

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