As May approaches, Anthony Gilmore and the members of Nameless Theatre are excitedly gearing up for what they are anticipating to be a well attended performance of Shakespearean theater.
Every Sunday, there is a group of people in Nagoya who like nothing more than to get together for seven hours and pretend to be other people. They recite lines originally written 400 years ago, and sometimes do things like hold sticks while imagining that they are in fact wielding menacing swords.
That group of which we speak is Nameless Theatre, and the show they are currently in rehearsal for is William Shakespeare’s timeless classic Romeo and Juliet.
The play has a reputation for being the classic love story to end all love stories. For this reason, many productions tend to up the romance and bury all that tragedy stuff in the background. Nameless, however, is attempting to bring out the darker, more dangerous aspects of the show, as director Anthony Gilmore is keen to stress.
“A lot of people think about Romeo and Juliet as being a sappy love story,” says Anthony. “But there is so much more to it than that. Things are extremely tense, fast-paced and aggressive. I want people on the edge of their seats when they watch it.”
A huge undertaking, the production has brought together around 50 Nagoya-based cast and crew members from all corners of the globe to stage the play.
Who are these people that give up their time to rehearse a 400-year-old play every Sunday (and the occasional Saturday) for 5 months? As it turns out, they’re a mix of elementary school teachers, translators, university professors, company CEOs, and radio DJs (among others). It’s a very diverse bunch of people, but they all seem to have been drawn in by the same thing—the excitement of doing something fun and creative. Some of the cast and crew of Romeo and Juliet have years of experience. For others, like Sophie Goto (Juliet), it will be their first time on stage.
“I joined because I wanted to meet more people that I might share interests with,” says Sophie. “I’ve never acted before, but after a friend suggested that I should audition for Juliet, I felt that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the kind I’ve always traditionally shied away from.”
The other half of the (un)happy couple, Romeo, will be played by Nick Rosier.
“Like a lot of people, I had never really imagined that I could actually be involved as anything more than a spectator,” Nick explains. “Every aspect of the show is new and demanding. But meeting all these new people has had a profound impact on me. Community theatre has really exposed me to a part of the city I didn’t even know existed.”
The crew also dedicate hours of their time outside of cast rehearsals to make the show happen. For Romeo and Juliet, costumes are being designed entirely from scratch, and custom-built weapons are being shipped from America for the many fight scenes – the cast will have to make do with sticks until they arrive. You might have also seen art department head David Mazzucchi running around Osu with his props and costumes team, as they look for the dozens of things needed to bring the show to life.
“It has been very, very busy,” says David. “Designing the costumes to fit the scene; making sure specific props that are called for are available; figuring out how a set will be moved. But working out how to solve these challenges is one of the most interesting aspects of doing community theatre.”
There is definitely a sense of pride about the group. This is something created right here—by the Nagoya community, for the Nagoya community.
“The depth of artistic talent in Nagoya has really surprised me,” says Ian Roth (who plays County Paris). “I love that the community here is small enough to allow for a lot of collaboration between different people and groups. If everyone really sought to learn from one another I think Nagoya would develop a well-deserved reputation for its creativity, artistry, and culture.”
“The cast and crew have been just amazing,” explains Anthony. “The dedication and passion they have shown throughout the process has been really inspiring.”
“That we are able to keep doing this is really all down to the amazing support we’ve received from the community in Nagoya,” says Artistic Director Carl Bradley (who also plays Friar Lawrence in the play). “Basically our goal is to create an environment where anyone who wants to get involved can come, meet some like-minded people, get a bit creative, and hopefully put on a great show”
And what can we tell people who are thinking about joining the group’s next production, Treasure Island?
To this, Nameless Theatre’s resident Juliet, Sophie grins and asks, “What have you got to lose? Except maybe, your weekends.”
Nameless Theatre presents Romeo and Juliet
Performances: May 24 (7pm), 25 (2pm & 7pm) and 26 (2pm & 6pm) at Aichi Arts Center Mini Theatre, Sakae (next to Oasis 21)
On sale now ¥4,000 adv. (¥4,500 at the door)
Students: ¥3,000 (¥3,500 at the door)
Available from www.namelesstheatre.org, Aichi Arts Center Playguide, or through any cast or crewmember
Opening-night party at the Hilton Nagoya: Immediately following the Friday night performance, the Hilton Nagoya will be hosting an exclusive after party. Tickets to the event are by invitation only. To inquire about being added to the guest list, please contact Nameless Theatre.