International Theater Festival kicks off July 20th

By Bill Charles

Music is and essential part of many of the performances like this called “The Stickman.”

The Kijimuna Festa 2013, an International Theater Festival in Okinawa catering to the young audience, is finalizing its program for an eight-day run beginning July 20th.

Theatrical performances at the Kijimuna Festa range from comical to serious.

The festival film screenings will run daily beginning at 11 a.m., and run until about 8 p.m. each evening through Sunday, July 28th, at Ashibina Theater in Corinza Mall, Okinawa City Community Center and Okinawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  There’s more to the festival than films, which this year is operating with the themes Theater is Nuchigusui, ‘Nuchi du Takara’ is the spirit of Okinawa, Protect and hand down life even in hard times, ‘Nuchigusui’ is what supports ‘Nuchi du Takara’, and ‘Nuchigusui’ nurtures spirit and life.

The festival includes both workshops and symposiums, as well as the films.  Admission to seminars and symposiums is free, with bookings on first-come basis.  Reservations can be made through the Kijimuna Ticket Center in person or by phone or fax, stating the interested program, number of people booking, and your name.

Serious of comedy, all shows are suitable for children.

Advance tickets for programs are ¥1,500 for adults and ¥1,000 for children.  At the door, adult tickets are ¥1,800 and ¥1,300 for children.  Kijimuna Club 6 membership is ¥5,000, and allows the holder to see six shows, or two people to see three shows, or six people to see one show.  Kijimuna Club 6 is not available on the final day of the festival. Organizers recommend Kijimuna Club 6 members to select a show and exchange the tickets as soon as possible, as they cannot be exchanged for sold-out performances. Only three tickets can be exchanged for the FENMO Chinese Acrobatics by the Jinan Acrobatic Troupe.  Kijimuna Club 6 membership must be exchanged for tickets to performances, as holders cannot enter a show with only showing the membership.

Supporter tickets are ¥1,200, both for adults and children.  They’re drop-in tickets that can be used for any performance with available seats on the day of the performance.  Supporter Tickets will be honored only after the ticket holders with advanced and on-the-door tickets are in.  At Door Tickets are available on a first-come basis at the venue 15 minutes prior to the show time.  No At Door Tickets will be available if the performance is sold out.

Tickets are available at Kijimuna Ticket Center in Korinza Mall first floor in Okinawa City, tel: 098-981-2100, Family Mart / ePlus, Lawson – Loppi, Co-op Apple tel: 098-941-8000, RYUBO Department Store tel: 098-867-1171 Ashibina Theater tel: 098-934-8487¸ and Campus Records tel: 098-932-3801

The festival tries to develop nature and culture as being essential for human beings to live fulfilling lives, and it is our – adult – duty to create the environment that children can have an access to culture and art. Kijimuna Festa, which officially started in 2005, seeks to be the place of cultural exchange across borders and languages. It hopes both children and adults will nurture their sensitivities through the encounter with the quality arts and it will lead to the revitalization of communities in families and areas as well as widening the friendship with people from other countries.

Kijimuna Festa is linked with the geographical space, i.e. the World, in terms of the international interaction, and with the historical space in terms of the cultural inheritance. It means the festival is attached with the root of culture, education and human beings. We see the joy of rediscovering those roots in the feedbacks from the audiences.

What is Nuchigusui…? In addition to it being the program theme this year, t means “medicine for life” or “medicine for long life” in Okinawan language.

However, this ‘medicine’ is not just a normal medicine. It is a nutritional medicine for your life. For example, we often say “Oh, it was a good Nuchigusui!” after seeing a moving performance. Also In Okinawa you often hear the proverb, “Nuchi nu takara” which means “Life itself is our treasure.” It is the precious word we have learnt from our experience of the wars and the history of difficulties. It is the lesson from our ancestors that we must be brave to protect our lives however tough the situation. “Nuchigusui” is the energy, which supports our precious treasure: life. The people in refugee camps who survived the battle of Okinawa celebrated their survival as well as their lives with Kankara Sanshin made from American military waste cans. The sound of Kankara Sanshin was exactly the “Nuchigusui” for the survivors, after losing their families and their country, but the sound was also an initial cry telling the revival of Ryukyu performing arts that Okinawa boasts to the world.

The first Kijimuna Festa took place in 1994, organized jointly by several towns in the middle part of Okinawa Island. After the first edition, small-scale festivals were organized in the same towns. In 2005, Kijimuna Festa made a fresh start with its venue focused just in Okinawa City, when it was the 60th anniversary since the Battle of Okinawa, the final land battle of WWII. Since then, Kijimuna Festa has taken place every summer, and Kijimuna Festa 2013 is the 9th edition. Kijimuna Festa has developed as the seasonal event in Okinawa City. In 2012, the number of participants grew to 40,391, and it is now the biggest theatre festival for children and young people in Asia.