traditional-eisa-dance1

by Megumi Tomita – Feb 5th, Okinawa, Japan.

Big applause went on and on and on… Children on stage, their teachers and families in auditorium all smiled. 

Last November, at the community center of Tomigusuku city in Okinawa, the 14th Tomigusuku Warabintya festival was held. – ‘Warabintya’ in Okinawa dialect  means ‘Children’. The festival presented children’s activities at the school or after-school club in their local community. Children of elementary schools, preschools, and even nursery schools participated in the festival.

dragon-boat-race

There were many kinds of performances, such as singing old children’s songs, playing traditional musical instruments or Karate, acting dragon boat race and more. Those performances were all from the tradition of Okinawa selected by teachers carefully. Children took over those traditions very naturally and enjoyably, and leaned through the process that the tradition could be fun, not boring.

The festival used to run by only children, teachers and parents themselves. But this time, they decided to have professional stage artists involved since they got a subsidy from Japanese government. There were two different department, exhibition & stage. I took on the role of the director & the coordinator of the stage department. I have been working for theater FOR children, but it was my first experience working WITH children. I asked other stage artists (sound technicians, lighting technicians and makeup artists, etc) for helping and giving ideas to make the stage better. Children & teachers made basis of the performance and we (stage artists) gave some advices, arranged orders of the program, and operated technical matters. We put lots of efforts not to lose children’s primitive expression, but make the stage more effective using our professional skills.

 hand-made-costume

rehearsal

During the festival, stages artists, teachers, parents and members of Jr.-leader’s club (Jr. & high-school students) all worked together. Set-up, guiding audiences, make-up, putting costume, leading children entering & leaving stage, set-changes, emcee…etc. We gave all our best to make it happened and children performed with their best.

Big applause went on and on and on. The applause was not only for the children but also for those who supported them. In the end, they were all once children.

 

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