enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


Special Exhibition: The Theatre of the Heart by the Shiki Theatre Company

  This section discusses the ‘Theatre of the Heart’, which is a project run by the Shiki Theatre Company for the purpose of bringing plays that are emotionally moving to children around the country. It began in 2008 as a vehicle to tell stories on the stage that emphasise the importance of life, empathy toward others, and the happiness that comes from mutual trust. It has continued as a result of cooperation from the Performing Arts Centre and the Shiki Theatre Company, as well as a large number of corporations and groups. It is active throughout Japan, from Rishiri Island, Hokkaido in the north of the country, to the Ishigaki and Miyako Islands, and Okinawa in the south.
  The Shiki Theatre Company had been organising the Nissei Theatre of Famous Works, which invited primary school students to attend performances at the Nissei Theatre free of charge thanks to sponsorship by the Nissei Life Insurance Company, for over half-a-century (since 1964). When it was first launched in 1964, Keita Asari, who was an official at the Nissei Theatre, proposed that a play be written in the form of a musical – musicals being rarely staged at the time – after hearing a statement made by then-company president Gen Hirose: ‘I would like [us all] to provide dreams to the children who experienced the post-war devastation’. Shortly after the opening of the new Nissei Theatre, the very first production was staged. This was ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, which was written by Shuji Terayama and produced by Keita Asari. This was the start of the corporate-sponsored ‘child invitation project’ that was quite revolutionary for its time. This project continued up to 2014, when it was taken over by Theatre of the Heart.
  In 2019, the Shiki Theatre Company staged ‘The Story of A Seagull and The Cat Who Taught Her To Fly’, which was its first original musical in 26 years. The musical was based on a children’s novel of the same name by Chilean writer Luis Sepúlveda. The stage version was written mainly by members of theatre companies, and it tells the story of a heart-warming exchange between a cat and a young seagull. It delivers the message that people should break through their protective shells and bravely move forward in their lives.