Of all the ways you could imagine spending a lazy Sunday afternoon in Nagoya, watching a high school teacher and a member of the U.S Consulate have a musket fight with a graphic designer and a fashion model was probably not among them.
Yet in the surreal bubble of community theatre – where a group of Nagoya residents are currently putting their nine-to-fives on hold for a few hours a week to rehearse Nameless Theatre’s next show Treasure Island – that kind of thing becomes commonplace. Networking events aside, it’s hard to imagine what would bring such as disparate group of people together.
“I like the fact that although we all have various other ‘day’ jobs, that regular office routine is forgotten when we come to rehearsal,” explains Matthew Fraser, who is the Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Consulate of Canada in Nagoya (except at rehearsal, where he is known simply as Dr. Livesy). “And instead we work together on a project with a completely different focus.”
You might remember Matthew from Romeo and Juliet, where he made a brief but memorable appearance as the bumbling Friar John. He will have a significantly bigger role in Treasure Island, accompanying the hero Jim Hawkins on his quest to recover buried treasure.
“I really enjoyed the strong team spirit we shared while working on Romeo and Juliet last spring, and I didn’t want that to end!” continues Matthew. “There are challenges too of course. Not least of which are my attempts to perfect a British accent.”
Matthew is one of several Romeo and Juliet actors returning to Nameless Theatre for Treasure Island. Among them are Jessica A Robison, Louise Heal Kawai and U.S. Consulate Nagoya’s Principle Officer, Harry Sullivan.
“Everyone at Nameless Theatre has been so supportive so it was easy to shed my inhibitions,” says Harry, who will play one of the good guys, Captain Smollet. “The process of the development of the play is always really interesting to witness. Over time, the synergies between the actors, the development of the set, and the lines all seem to take a life of their own, and like a child, one is constantly amazed at its rapid development. I hope that my participation can help add visibility to the diversity of Nagoya’s cultural offerings.”
Treasure Island feels like a slightly different change of pace for Nameless Theatre, who in the past year staged two dark Shakespeare tragedies. Director Ryan Seale, helming his first show for the group, explains why he chose to direct something much lighter than what Nameless is used to.
“Treasure Island reminds me of the shows that I grew up with, like The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan,” says Ryan. “Those shows were filled with magic and adventure, and they’d sweep you away to fantastical places. Treasure Island has the same level of imagination, and on top of that it has deeper human themes that really resonate with me.”
It’s a story most people are familiar with. Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel became so popular that pirate ships, buried treasure and eye patches became the stuff of cliché, but the coming of age story of Jim Hawkins has a timeless feel that makes it easy to connect with.
The lead role of Hawkins will be played by Matthew Hegstrom. A man with a significant amount of experience under his belt (58 shows at last count), Matthew trained professionally at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
“One of the most unique aspects of doing community theatre in Nagoya is that we get to work with people from all over the world,” explains Matthew. “There are people from Japan, England, Brazil, Italy, America, China, and other countries all working together for the sake of telling the audience a fun and exciting story. Rehearsals have been very energetic, the movement is getting better, and the costumes, designed by Sophie Goto, who also played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, have really helped make the characters come to life.”
You can’t mention Hawkins without talking about his nemesis. With his peg leg and parrot, Long John Silver single handedly defined our contemporary image of pirate. In an inspired bit of casting, Silver will be played by local ex-pat John Ahern. To those of you that know him (probably most people reading this), John seems a great fit for the role.
“Silver is a tricky character,” says John. “It’s been fun trying to nail him down and figure out how to play the different sides of his personality. I realized quickly that he’s more than just a peg leg and a pretty face.”
As a more family friendly show, is it safe to assume that there will be less stabbings, suicides and firing squads in this one?
“Well, someone gets beheaded by a cutlass,” admits Ryan. “The kids are going to love it.”
Friday, October 11th, at 6:30pm
Saturday, October 12th, at 2pm and 6:30pm
Sunday, October 13th, at 2pm and 6pm
Electric Cultural Center, Fushimi (2 minute walk from Fushimi station exit 4)
Tickets (on sale now):
General admission tickets are ¥4,000 in advance (¥4,500 at the door), and student tickets are ¥3,000 (¥3,500 at the door).
Tickets are available online at:
www.namelesstheatre.org, by purchasing directly through cast and crew, or at the Aichi Arts Center Playguide in B2 of the Aichi Arts Center in Sakae.