Elderly Saitama theater troupe takes on world

Kyodo

A theater company of elderly actors led by renowned stage director Yukio Ninagawa has been busy rehearsing for a tour of Japan and Paris that kicks off on Thursday.

Consisting of 41 members aged between 62 and 87, Saitama Gold Theater was formed in 2006.

Since its debut, the group has regularly managed to attract theater lovers to Saitama Prefecture for its performances, and local residents hope the group will have similar appeal overseas.

The theater group will kick off its tour Thursday at Saitama Arts Theater, performing through Sunday.

From May 30 to June 1, it is scheduled to perform at the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris.

Following its trip overseas, the troupe will return to perform later in June at the Kanagawa Arts Theater in Yokohama and Osato Bunka Hall in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture.

Both shows will also feature performances from the Saitama Next Theater troupe.

While on tour, Saitama Gold Theater plans to perform a play titled “Karasu yo, Oretachi wa Tama wo Komeru” (“Crows, We Will Load Bullets”), which was written by Kunio Shimizu and directed by Ninagawa in 1971.

The play depicts how elderly women occupy a courtroom in a desperate bid to save their grandsons, who are on trial for an alleged terrorist attack.

Saitama Gold Theater last performed the play in 2006, delivering a performance that included plenty of action.

This time around, however, the play has been re-examined in order to include a few more down-to-earth elements from daily life.

“I hope to create a scene as if the grandma and grandson are like the Virgin (Mary) and child,” said Etsuko Shigemoto, 87, the oldest actor in the group.

Hiromu Kassai, 82, who plays the role of a lawyer, said, “Although the Japanese language may not be understood overseas, hopefully our body language will help convey our spirits.”

Ninagawa said that he expects “Saitama Gold Theater members to show their true colors.”

Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda is especially looking forward to the theater group’s tour.

“Saitama Gold Theater’s attractiveness is the unique character of each actor,” Ueda said. “Ninagawa has already proven that Saitama is able to offer something that can appeal to the world.”