by Leigh Wellsview
The Tokyo International Players (TIP) were founded in 1896 and have been bringing English-language community theater to Tokyo ever since. Community theater has long been an important first step for young actors, as they get perhaps their first chance to take to the stage while at the same time reaping the benefits of working with older, more experienced actors. This year, TIP mounted The Pirates of Penzance and was able to involve several young actors in the production.
For Hope Algeo, 14, a grade nine student at Nishimachi International School (NIS), “It was a great experience! I got to meet a bunch of awesome people that were into drama…you felt like you really belonged.” This was Algeo’s first production, although she’s caught the theater bug now and plans to continue performing into the future.
While it was a new experience for most of the kids involved, everyone was overwhelmingly positive about their time in the show, and offered encouraging words to any creative youngsters in Tokyo. Keaton Batten, 15, says, “Keep trying and auditioning and never give up—you never know—you could get a part or be able to help out,” while Assistant Stage Manager Sarah Haber, 13, gives advice to those who might experience stage fright: “If you are nervous about getting on stage, try it out with small roles, but backstage is also a lot of fun!” Speaking to any first timers interested in getting into theater on stage or back, is fifteen-year-old Aily Roper: “You don’t need experience— if you start, then you’ll gain the experience as you work your way through.”
Nicole Dickson, the Education Director at TIP, and also the drama teacher at NIS, is keen to help teens gain that experience and was able to help involve some of the promising young students from her school in the cast and crew of Pirates. It is her hope that in the future TIP will be able to host summer theater camps for children and increasingly involve them with community theater productions, something that, in her opinion, doesn’t happen often enough in Tokyo. In the meantime, NIS will be mounting its first production next year, and on a case-by-case basis, the director of Elephant Man, TIP’s next production, is open to having older teens audition. Please contact Nicole at [email protected] for more information about getting involved. For younger children, those not ready to get up on stage, or anyone who just wants to see some great community theater for children, check out Tokyo Theater for Children who put on regular productions geared towards the younger set. Email [email protected] for more information. For more information about TIP and to find out about their upcoming season, visit www.tokyoplayers.org.