Hey guys! We sat down with Yokohama Theatre Group and their latest intern. Henry discusses his role and the waves he's making in the new cultural sphere of Kanagawa.

Andrew teaching Henry


IJ: Please tell us who you are and about Touch Me Not.

Tania: I am Tania Coke and I am the director of “Touch Me Not”. I have worked many times before with YTG, but this is the longest project I have done so far. So therefore it is the most fulfilling. We started rehearsing in March and since then rehearsals have increased to twice a week and this here is our team.

IJ: Tania’s main work is tarinainanika.

Tania at tarinainanika

IJ: Naoe, tell us about your part *Naoe’s mouth full of food*. OK then, Andrew, You are not eating yet. Tell us more!

Andrew: I’m not eating yet!? That is the business part of it…. I am Andrew Woolner, I am the Artistic Director of Yokohama Theatre Group and I am in the show. I am a performer, so I have been rehearsing 2 days a week since March, plus doing a lot of the production technical stuff. Well, yeah, what else do you need to know?

IJ: Please tell us more about Touch Me Not.

Andrew: Well, Tania is really the person who should be talking about the show. This is her Baby.

Tania: I’d love to hear your views though...

Andrew: My views change weekly *laughs*. It’s not the show I thought it was at the beginning. And It’s not the show I thought it was 4 weeks ago. Well, that’s the thing. You’re making your show in rehearsal. It is constantly evolving. I am just kind of trying to go with the process. Which is also hard because I am approaching it as a performer as well as a co-creator as we are all on this.  On most projects I am much more in the driver’s seat than on this one...so, I’m just trying to relax about that. I just need to worry not to worry about not being in the driver’s seat, while being in the driver's’ seat a lot about the production stuff. While Tania is a hands on director, she does a lot of the production stuff, but I am more at the backend like advertisement, publicity and so on: the boring stuff. I have got other helpers such as John Matthews who is not here today.

He is not coming to most rehearsals but he is a board member and does loooooads of stuff on the backend. Photographs and stuff like that. He does a lot of the work and I am in charge of coordinating everything, on top of being a performer who doesn’t leave the stage for the entire show. Giving this to Naoe now. Is her mouth empty yet?!

Naoe: My name is Kawamoto Naoe (川本直枝) and I am a dancer. I started dancing when I was 6 years of age and until now I have been on stage in Ballet and dance performances. 2 years ago, performed in my first musical “CHESS”, but that is pretty much it. I came into contact with YTG and became part of the performing team now. I also teach Pilates at a chiropractic clinic.

IJ: Are you nervous?

Naoe: I am not great at speaking in front of the audience and during the show, I haven’t had a single line. My talents lie in expressing myself through my body movements.



IJ: Absolutely. You are amazing!

Naoe: I am challenging myself. I am not yet at all where I want to be. Expressing the feelings exactly as supposed to be, I feel, is extremely difficult. With your hand or just one finger, you are completely exposed … that is certainly a big deal - and if you are not constantly working on it, it will not improve. For me, this learning process is really enjoyable. I can’t speak for the premiere day yet… *laughs*... pretty nervous indeed, but I will do my best! *laughs*

IJ: So, Tania, please tell us a bit more about the show itself.

Tania: First of all, when Andrew came to me and asked: "can you direct a show for me and Naoe?" I looked at them and thought you couldn’t get two more different people. One tall, Canadian male talkative person; one tiny Japanese dancer *laughing* I thought “Wow, this is great!” That’s exactly what you need for a show, its contrast. And it reminded me of the story of my grandparents in the Philippines. My grandfather was an American, my grandmother was a Filipino. And they had an extraordinary story. My grandfather was the first person to make movies in the Philippines. He made movies about the Philippine national hero José Rizal. His classics were born from tales of idealism, political revolution, death and destruction.

He made movies with his first wife who was an actress. And they had this idyllic life of art and love transcending nationalities and cultures. When she suddenly died, he retreated into himself and that is where “Touch Me Not” takes off. This man is buried in his little world of memories and lost dreams and he is trying to remember his poems from the past. He is looking at his notebooks from the past. He looks back at his photos. And around him is this silent woman who is cleaning the house around him and he doesn’t pay any attention to her. But little by little they start to interact more. He starts to show her his movies. There are only clips and fragments of his movies. None of the real movies have survived. Due to the second world war everything was destroyed. So we try to reconstruct, using a lot of artistic imagination. Showing how those scenes might have looked like.

And we show this 4-way relationship between a man and woman on stage (loosely based on my grandfather Edward Gross and my grandmother Suzie Gross) and a man and woman on the screen (the characters in Edward's movies - including his first wife) And those characters appear on the stage as well towards the end.

Like Andrew said, it is always the case for me that when I make shows I don’t know what it is until it’s done. That’s the magic of the process. The story is telling itself, we just have to listen through it and work out what it’s gonna be. It is beyond what our rational brain could have worked out.

IJ: And that is the magic we see. You are co-creating. Our wonderful intern Henry is there too and he is learning while creating with you also. We love it very much. Henry, your turn.



Henry (Intern): My name is Henry Morse, I come from the UK and I am currently on my placement year at the University Of Huddersfield. I am studying “Music Technology and Audio Systems”, a subject which covers a wide range of topics related to sound engineering. I decided to come to Japan about a year ago, in September, and worked a lot with Internship Japan. We exchanged emails back and forth until we were able to sort out a suitable chance. I kind of thought of coming to Japan as a bit of a fantasy, but luckily I was able to hook up with the Yokohama Theatre Group and then met Andrew. We had a Skype interview at 1 in the morning, and then I stayed awake all through the night because I was so excited.

Andrew: YTG, we make dreams come true!
*laughter*
Andrew: As long as they are very small dreams.
*More laughter*
Andrew: And inexpensive!
*ROFL…*

Henry (Intern): So, that is how I met Andrew, and how I got involved with YTG. Also pretty much why I am here now. I will be living in Japan for one year which is still kinda crazy to think about. I still wake up some days really dazed and confused. Like, “Woah, I am in Japan now!? Why is everyone speaking Japanese?! It is really good though, and I enjoy it a lot here. It’s really making me understand the importance of internships, especially in this kind of industry where the experience you have and the people you know are pretty much everything.

IJ: What have you learned so far? Anything specific jump to mind?

Henry (Intern): Ahhhm, specific....Again, I think a lot of it is being aggressive about how you put yourself out there. You have to keep yourself upfront and keep yourself open for opportunities, and always seek new ways of getting connected with people in the industry. Constantly looking for new part-time work (Henry is on a Working Holiday Visa, he may do paid work in Japan as well, not only internships.) and hopefully, you meet a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who can get you a job. The worst thing to do is nothing. If you don’t do anything and you don’t put the work in then nothing will happen.

IJ: Exactly! Get out on the market, right?

Henry (Intern): Yessss. I have only been here a month so, ask me that again in 10 months! We’ll see what happens.

IJ: We will! Looking forward to keeping up to date!
*laughter*

Henry (Intern): Yeah, so this is about all I have for now.

IJ: Alright, so Andrew, back to you. Tell us about more internship possibilities at Yokohama Theatre Group.

Andrew: YTG is always looking for interns, especially those with skills related to sound, light, video, photography etc. We don’t need so many people for the office. We could use someone who has really good organizational skills on the non-technical side. We are less looking for performers because, people are usually here for too short of a period of time to be part of a show. It has worked out a few times by accident. But the chance of fitting into a rehearsal period from the beginning to the end is not so great.

IJ: How long would that be?

Andrew: It depends on the show. This show is 6 months. The last show was 6 weeks. It depends but I usually do not have so much control over it. We can’t arrange it for somebody to fit into the school year. So, technical skills you would not think a theater company is looking for, like in this case sound engineer, those are people who we can use. Such skills are also transferrable, right? You can transfer sound skills into pushing buttons of a lighting board, learning new skills like lighting and stuff like that. It might not be possible to say yeah, come to Japan and get a job, diving right into the music industry, but you will be at least using your skills.

Henry (intern): I think this is what I have enjoyed the most about YTG. This wide range of things that I can get involved with every week. One day I am here working the lighting board, the next day I’m hunkered up in a dark room composing some sound design stuff, scraping my hand against metal boxes and making that into some weird sound scape for a scene in the performance. I find I’m using my skills a lot more than I ever did back home, it’s really taken me out my comfort zone.

IJ: Being open is a key ingredient.

Henry (Intern): Yeah, especially if you are looking for something specific in Japan. I think maybe just take a step back and broaden what you are looking for a little bit so you don’t overlook potential opportunities.

IJ: That’s what internships are all about we think!

Henry (Intern): Yes. And it is a safe environment.



Andrew: You haven’t been injured yet!
*laughter*

Henry (Intern): Yeah. I think an internship is a nice way to discover what you really like doing and opening yourself up to new things you might not have had the chance to do otherwise.

IJ: Indeed. How would you know what is possible without trying it out, right?

*The whole team agrees*

IJ: Henry, you are also playing instruments, right?

Henry (Intern): Yesss. Yes!



IJ: We saw those cool photos on your Facebook wall with the guitar, on stage...

Henry (intern): I am a guitarist, music producer. I sit in my room and record entire songs on my own. I release it on the internet and people seem to like it.
But I am also in Japan to get involved with the music scene over here. I have a cover band for a 90’s Japanese Rock band called “Thee Michelle Gun Elephant”, and we are playing in Ooyama on the 16th of October 2016. Kind of a Halloween Show. That is one of my other hobbies, I like Pro Wrestling as well *laughter* (more about Henry here)

IJ: And you will intern in a few other places too, right?

Henry (intern): Yes but there are still some things in the works so I will report back on those later. I also have a part-time job with starts in two weeks as an English tutor at a Kindergarten. We’ll see how that goes but I mean, whatever. I mean you never know.

Andrew: He taught me all the English I know!
*laughter*

IJ: It’s all learning!

Henry (intern): Yes. I see it like that too.

IJ: A BIG thank you to our partners Yokohama Theatre Group for supporting us, we are happy to see such great work and a very happy intern!


To support Yokohama Theatre Group, please be sure to see the show!

Tickets for the show can be purchased online here.

More information about YTG:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ytgjp
Bilingual website: http://ytg.jp/en/
Interview with Andrew from December 2014
Success Story of former Intern Carolina
Article on YTG’s membership @ Internship Japan, including the video of Carolina

Photo credits: John Matthews (except tarinainanika)


Success Stories

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