Shinsai Steamboat is 1 of 70 performances across the US
March 8, 2012
Steamboat Springs — One year ago this week, the ground under Japan shook violently, disrupting the course of an entire country and shaking loose the foundations of its storied culture.
The Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami weighed heavily on the global community, and on its one-year anniversary, the stories that emerged from the rubble will be told through theatrical performances across the world via a fundraising program called Shinsai, Theaters For Japan.
"Theater is a dynamic, it brings emotion and humanity into a story like this," said Mike Forney, a local resident and reader for the Steamboat production of Shinsai.
Shinsai Steamboat is one of 70 performances of short plays and musical numbers occurring across the country Sunday. Theaters, workshops and organizations across the world are bringing to life several stories by American and Japanese playwrights chosen specifically for this occasion.
The local performance is at 6 p.m. at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library. It is free to attend. As of Thursday, the event was the only Shinsai performance slated for Colorado.
Bud Werner Memorial Library adult programs coordinator Jennie Lay said the idea was planted during a stirring talk last week from dramaturge Anne Cattaneo, of the Lincoln Center Theater, who is putting on a Shinsai event in New York City.
In less than two weeks, local acting instructor Stuart Handloff gathered a group of a dozen local readers to put on the production.
"This has been a whirlwind to pull together, but it's a worthy cause and an opportunity to bring the words of some of the world's greatest playwrights to Steamboat's doorstep," Lay said. "It's truly Stuart's theatrical experience and enthusiasm making this a reality. And it's no small thanks to the cast of local readers and actors who stepped forward to make this happen."
Out of the more than 10 plays available for Shinsai, Handloff chose five, as well as one musical number.
The performance will be staged as a reader's theater, with no costumes or blocking. Handloff said the sparse staging will help emphasize the weight of the text and dialogue.
While the subject matter is heavy, Handloff said the message isn't all just doom and gloom.
There is one story about a woman who fell in love with a rickshaw driver. But then there is the story of a family that has to deal with leaving behind its radioactive dog after a nuclear meltdown forced them from their house.
"I hope they get some feeling of what this event meant," Handloff said about Sunday's audience. "A massive number of people died, and there are parts of the country that are still uninhabitable. So what does that mean to a culture? And can we bring it closer to home … make it real?"
At Sunday's event will be a display case featuring items of Japanese heritage. And although the performance is free, attendees will be able to donate via text message, online and at the door. All proceeds will go to the Japan Playwrights Association to disperse among the Japanese theater community that was affected by the disaster.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com