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Kijimuna Festa focuses on international

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-07-27

The Kijimuna Festa and ASSITEJ International Meeting, with a theme “Theater is Nuchigusui” kicks off its run Saturday in Okinawa City, offering more than 115 distinctly different programs, seminars, workshops, performances and events for visitors over the nine days.

The international festival, the International Theater Festival Okinawa for Young Audiences, is a cultural gold mine for youngsters. Sponsored by everyone from Okinawa City to Okinawa Prefecture, with Ashibina Independents Project Executive Committee, as well as the Art Community Organization Okinawa, NPO Okinawa Art Culture Advancement Association, Okinawa Convention and Visitor Bureau, Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Broadcasting Company, virtually every minute of the festival’s extremely well organized.

The festival gets under way Saturday, mixing, blending and combining a variety of symposiums, workshops and programs. Some 56 productions from Japan, Asia and around the world are a cornerstone to the festival, which also features seven symposiums dealing with “The Role of Theatre for Children and Young People in Peace Building”, “Disabilities and Art”, and “Crisis and Art”. Add to that five seminars and more than a dozen workshops on kabuki, noh, kyogen, Peking opera, Pansori, Gamelan, puppet making and communications for children, round out the festivities.

Events take place in various Okinawa City venues, including the Okinawa City Civic Center, Okinawa City Central Community Hall (Chuo Kominkan), the Yaejima Park Special Venue, a Special Outdoor Tent, the Okinawa Chamber of Commerce, the Special Town Stage Center Kominkan, Ichiban-gai Performance area, Nakanomachi KOMINKAN, Oto-Ichiba Koza Music Town¸ and the Special Town Stage Ken’s.

Performances include “My Friend the Sheik in Stureby”, a production by the New Face Joint Production Program, and “Space Battleship Sora” production designed to think about children and the theater after a disaster. Seminars include Current Situations and Roles of Theater for the Very Young, Learn from the World: Theater for Children and Young People-Playwriting, and Learn from the World: Theater for Children and Young People-Directing.

Theater is Nuchigusui, this year’s theme, projects Nuchi du Takara, the spirit of Okinawa, protecting and handing down life, even in hard times, and Nuchigusui, which is what supports Nuchi du Takara. Thus, Nuchigusui nurtures spirit and life. Nuchigusui means “medicine for life” or “medicine for a long life” in the Okinawan language, although this medicine is far more than normal medicine.

Nuchigusui is the energy, which supports earth’s precious treasure of life. People who survived the Battle of Okinawa and lived in refugee camps celebrated survival and their lives with Kankara Sanshin made from American military waste cans. The sound of Kankara Sanshin was exactly the Nuchigusui for survivors who’d lost their families and their countries. That sound now is the cry for revival of the Ryukyu performing arts that Okinawa’s so proud of.

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