On April 3, Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announced the cancellation of this year’s edition of its annual World Theatre Festival Shizuoka, which was due to be held from April 25 to May 6. The loss of the renowned international theater and dance festival as a result of the coronavirus pandemic left a sizable void for artists and fans over the Golden Week holidays.

“Not only me, but our staff and actors were all entirely stumped,” Satoshi Miyagi, SPAC’s general artistic director, tells The Japan Times. “The shock made us realize we can’t live without theater — it’s as simple as that, because it’s a matter of vital importance to our spirit. So instead, we decided to run a theater-like event we called World Theatre Festival on the Cloud, with its programs mainly for online distribution.”

With that commitment made, Miyagi, 61, sprang into action, holding remote meetings with his actors and staff, and together organizing about 50 programs — all of them free.