What is amazing about this theater is that they made it as closely as possible to how it was back in the 16th century. It’s mostly open-air and you experience the occasional pigeon flying in and can see the actors entering the stage from all possible angles. With the circular design of the seats, you are always a lot closer to the action and I did notice some very pretty actresses playing the princess’ attendants. For me, this makes it all more immersing, as there is something artificial about the controlled nature of modern theaters, with their elaborate spotlights and noise-insulation, ending up with a Hollywood-style ‘perfection’ that in some ways may be a good thing, but robs the events of some of their immediacy. Who needs studied perfection when you can have real emotions? All the more important if, like me, you can’t follow a lot of the words.
These kinds of cultural events are something I miss living in Japan. Of course, there’s more Japanese culture than anywhere else, but when it comes to things like Western Theater or lesser-known, alternative artists, there’s just not enough of an audience for much of it to survive there. In fact, a lot of art students come here to study, which is a good way of getting away from the neon-commercialism that is surprisingly pervasive in Japan. I say surprisingly because it’s a county with so much incredible heritage. It’s important that younger people learn that there is more to enjoying life than shopping malls and Disneyland. London’s lucky that having so many tourists makes a ready audience for so many of the arts (a lot of them Japanese tourists!), so that they can be presented in a dynamic way that people who live here can also feel part of it. So, this is something about my country I want to share with Japan, that art can be relevant to everyone.
As far as falling victim to commercialism goes, I have to admit, though, that I’m as bad as anyone else in this, I’m always looking around to see what the latest digital camera can do and as far as TV goes I only follow the big name ones that I hear about from friends. Maybe no-one can escape the influence of ‘branding’ these days, least of all me. I just feel that we should all make an effort to find more authentic things, that maybe have been less commercialised. A kind if organic foods approach to culture. which might also help the ‘little guys’ find their natural audience better too.