Greetings from Tokyo

studio life

There’s no word for “no” in Japanese, which is probably why I am sitting by the bus stop at Tokyo airport about to head to Shinjuku to see Studio Life’s new production of Phantom the untold story designed by Matt Kinley. The artistic director asked me, and I had to say “yes”. I’m here for two days, and so I suspect I will be returning with the same British Airways flight crew as I arrived with this morning. They will, hopefully, be rested. I will have seen 2 3hr shows, had a wealth of meetings, a bit of sleep, a sauna I hope, and some delicious sushi.

I come here hot foot from the Hospital Club last night where I was guest of Des O’Connor, Zoie Kennedy, Ellie Buchan and the rest of the cast of a one off Climate Change cabaret. It was a private event for Hospital inmates, and it was fascinating to meet sustainability experts from London, Cornwall and beyond all gathered to witness this show. On Sunday I will join thousands of others on the Climate March in London as the debate (and the planet) heat up.

Saying yes, and getting yourself in the position where people will ask you to do stuff and you can say yes, are two of the most important aspects of being freelance I think. Unless people know you are available, and you are known by people in a particular sphere, you can end up sitting alone-in-your-room. That may be great for Eliza but it is not good for freelance actors and creators.

I was privileged to watch the first scratch exploration by Ellie Buchan of one of the scenes in the Climate Cabaret. She was in deep resistance to creating her piece. She didn’t want to talk about climate change, or entertain rich people with lovely theatre, or preach to the converted. She wanted to shout and scream and make someone, somewhere in power say “yes” to a change in the way the world is heading. How can one brilliant storyteller have any effect on the global climate crisis. But she said yes, and she ranted in her scratch about the challenge – and that became a part of her storytelling at the Hospital Club – and wow it had an impact. She made us all feel suitably uncomfortable, and realise that like butterfly wings, we have to do something and we can make a difference. Thank you to all of the company.

What a strange world international, cross timeline travel is. The first half of this blog was written on my lap at 7am in an airport. The second part is 2am same timezone in a hotel. Neither timezones match my body or brain.

I’ve just seen an amazing first 3hrs or a 6hr epic Phantom The Untold Tale by Studio Life, and a great dinner with the artistic director, her producer, and colleagues. I leave here Monday at dawn, Guy Chapman arrives 1hr later – and we are both assessing the same show. We love Studio Life, but which of their repertoire is best to offer to a London and European audience.

The reason I am here, and Guy arrives tomorrow, is that we are two people who say “yes”. Neither of us have a clue, at the moment, whether the project will happen, or raise its money, or work – but we believe in the core artists at the heart of the company. We are making friends and maybe, in time, the funding will be in place to make it.

If you have the chance, say “yes”, and maybe catch up with Studio Life the company in Tokyo.

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