In May 2015 I returned to Minami Sanriku, Japan. The once thriving town was destroyed by the tsunami in 2011. Six months after the event i went with Polyglot Theatre to offer the first of hopefully many arts projects with the community. Polyglot have been back to the town another two times, i was fortunate to be on this last one.
It was incredible to see how far from completion the town still is. Four years on, and away from the eyes of the media many of the residents are still in temporary housing. On the flat there is much construction raising the ground level by some 7 to 10 meters. The surrounding mountains are being dug out to account for all of this soil, and then on the flats made in the mountains the houses will be built. The decision has been made that only businesses will be built where the town was.
We worked in collaboration with the wonderful Acchi Cocci a team of Japanese classical musicians who have been bringing Cafe Concerts to the area since 2011.
We began an inter-generational Drawbridge project with the Komishibai, a traditional paper stroytelling performance form. Our comic artist Bernard Caleo performs in Australia with Komishibai. We linked the Elders community at two temporary housing villlages and The Ireya Elementary School in the construction of a story. We began with a traditional story that everyone knew and asked Tsugi Wa? What's next? The children added another three scenes to the story, placing themselves within it. We then performed the story for four kindergartens.
The Head Of Department of Education spoke very highly of the arts as a way for healing, and said he found it very hard to say no to these opportunities. But the children are behind, and it is difficult for them to find time within schools to be able to offer more.
The overwhelming feedback was that everyone was so pleased to see the children looking happy, that they were extremely focused.
More to come soon.....