Public theaters across the country are holding significantly more community productions and workshops aimed at local residents who are looking to get involved in performance art.

Undoubtedly that's in part thanks to the pioneering work of the nation's leading dramatist on the world stage, Yukio Ninagawa, who in April 2006 unexpectedly announced open auditions for regular folk aged 55 and over who wanted to act.

After auditioning each and every one of the 1,011 aspirants who applied, Ninagawa selected 48 candidates to be founding members of his Gold Theater company based at Saitama Arts Center, where he was, and remains, artistic director.