[From November Issue 2013]



“Gear,” a show performed at Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, is becoming popular by word of mouth. Once you enter the small theatre located within a building, a set that resembles a genuine factory appears before you. Before long, five performers appear on stage and express the story through various movements. Not a single word is used.

The story is set in a tempestuous and desolate future society. A former toy factory, where humanoid “Roboroid” robots continue to labor, is visited by “Doll,” a former product of this factory. As they interact they experience curiosity and play, gradually becoming more like human beings. Meanwhile, an accident occurs and the Roboroids have to deal with a crisis. The story takes a dramatic turn when, left all alone, a change appears in Doll.

Although the play is silent, the audience laughs at the slapstick comedy and sheds tears during the emotional scenes. KOHARA Keito, the producer of ART COMPLEX – an organization that sponsors the show – says, “I created Gear in 2010. The show took this form because I wanted to produce a global event, but believed that the language barrier would be my greatest challenge. The aim was to create something that could be enjoyed regardless of age or nationality.”

Gear utilizes the latest technologies, including something called projection mapping, projecting an image or lighting up an object by adapting itself to that object’s shape. The choreography was created by KONDO Ryohei who is also known as the leader of the dance company “Condors.”

Numerous world championship winning dancers and mime artists make an appearance. However, Gear demands movements and expressions that have never before been experienced. At first the performers had concerns, saying, “Why do we have to do something like this?” They also went through a tough period when there would only be about ten people in the audience.

Kohara continued to make steady progress by taking into account the opinions given on questionnaires about the show. The cast themselves began to put forward their own ideas. Here, the crew, cast and audience all direct the show. Because of their hard work, the show, which was first performed in 2012, was performed for the 400th time in September, 2013, and more than 20,000 people have been to see it.

Audience members have commented that: “I could enjoy it even without dialogue. In fact, it is more interesting because there are no words.” “While the tricks and devices are effective, in the end, it was the ‘people’ who moved me.” A non-Japanese tourist commented that: “I’ve never seen a performance like it.” Kid’s Day – when children under the age of three can attend – was created after they received a comment saying that, “Our three year old child was able to concentrate and watch it until the end.”

“I would be delighted if many more small theatres were created in Kyoto,” says Kohara. “In the future I want to do a long running performance on the real Broadway. There’s no precedent for Japanese people performing a long run yet, so I’d like to set myself this challenge.” Kohara’s dreams are growing bigger.



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