Renowned theater director Yukio Ninagawa broke new ground when he launched Saitama Gold Theater in 2006. Instead of seasoned actors, he filled his troupe with amateurs who were all older than 55.

Now, nearly 100 groups of senior-citizen actors can be seen across the country, while countless thousands are taking to stages around the world. What once may have seemed like a novel idea, is shaping up to be something of a legacy for Ninagawa, who passed away in 2016.

Hiroshi Watanabe, the executive producer overseeing Saitama Arts Theater, where Ninagawa was artistic director, recalls how they were inundated with applicants to attend the open auditions for Gold Theater's initial lineup.