Warabi-za Theater Company is one of a kind in representing Japanese folk art tradition in forms of theatrical performances. (For example, see how indigenous tradition of bear hunters are represented. )They perform thousands of shows every year all over Japan. Finding out how this amazing place has come about will give you a better experience when visiting Tazawako Art Village.
(Below is an insert from a written material available for foreign guests upon request.
Here it is provided by the courtesy of Warabi-za Theater Company.)
What is Gekidan Warabi-za?
Gekidan Warabiza (Warabi-za Theater Company) was formed in 1951—right in the midst of the revitalization after WWII.
The predecessor, Umi-tsubame, was formed by Taro Hara with an aim to “console the shattered heart of Japanese people by a tune of min-yo,”— a style of Japanese accompanied folk singing.
Umi-tsubame, which was a professional theatrical group Hara formed in Tokyo, relocated the head-quarter to the current site in Akita Prefecture, for the area was known as “min-yo min-bu no houko,” a treasure trove of folk songs and dances.
That was in 1953 and also when the group renamed itself Warabi-za with a wish to become empowerment in the live of people -- just like wild warabi (fiddleheads ferns) that saved farmers from hunger.
Foundation of Warabi-za Theater:
While Warabi-za had traveled to perform throughout the country, the members started to wish to own their own theater at Home. Despite of the criticism that such a large-scale theater can be managed only in urban settings, the members were passionately driven and initiated a fundraising campaign. As a result, with contributions by 8,000,000 citizens, Warabi-za Theater was born.
For a while, Warabi-za Theater had remained as a place for experimental performing arts; however, it was only until 1993 when the company took a tour to Ashland, Oregon, and Mineapolis, Minnesota, to study American theater management.
The members returned home with a new vision on theater management: A theater’s mission should be clarified and closely tied to the community and whose audience is to be prioritized. This notion had become the very foundation of Warabi-za’s theater management.
In 1995, the first long-run musical performance had finally begun. In a town whose population was only 14,000 people (formerly known as Tazawako Town), more than 35,000 had attended to 168 shows in the first year alone. Today Warabi-za performs more frequently, and nearly 300 shows are held in a year at both small and large theaters in the facility.
Warabi-za's Fundamental Principles:
Warabi-za Theater Company contributes to the community and society, based on the following principles:
CREATIVITY: We create theatrical arts deeply rooted in the traditional culture of Japan, Tohoku, Akita, and Semboku regions that also reflects the heart of people who live in the modern times. We aim to create “a theater whose works are for both international and domestic audiences,” -- to become an anchor of unique production and art appreciation.
CULTIVATION: Through activities such as stage performances and workshops, we aim to cultivate artists, staffs, and connoisseurs of theater arts. We also maintain “a theater open to the regional community” that supports diverse creative activity regardless of genre.
CONTRIBUTION: We aim to become the center for community involvement in fields of culture, social welfare, tourism, and educational activities. We also aim to become “a theater that is deeply rooted in the community,” which contributes to the cultural and economical development of the community.