Creating a theater with the people of the town

There are a large number of facilities and events related to culture and the arts in Sapporo. Started in 2005, “Sapporo Art Stage” is a festival of art in which visual arts, music, and theatrical performances are seen across Sapporo for an entire month in the fall. We had a chance to talk with the actress Keiko Miyata, who is part of the troupe “Sapporoza,” about her connection with Sapporo.

At first, I thought, “There is no way I can perform with these scary adults!”

Ms. Miyata, who is from Mitsuishi, Shinhidaka-cho, was active in her high school’s drama club throughout her time there. After graduating from a junior college in Sapporo, she found work at a cable television station in Sapporo. For 4 years she dealt with all aspects of program production including filming, reporting, and editing traveling across all of Hokkaido. Later, after she had experienced doing work as a presenter and as a community radio personality, an acting workshop she participated in became her chance to return to the stage at age 30.

“I loved watching plays, and I used to watch performances at Concarino and at the then-Sapporo Honda Gekijo. For me, whose only acting experience was at a high school in the countryside, the theaters of Sapporo seemed unapproachable. I was like… I can’t perform alongside these scary adults. When I started work as a presenter and as a radio personality, I took an acting workshop to improve my expressiveness. It was there that I remembered becoming absorbed in acting when I was in high school, and I was drawn into theater at once.”

The wish to make their hometown the setting of the play came from their wish to perform all across Hokkaido.

The troupe that Ms. Miyata belongs to, Sapporoza, sets many of their pieces in Hokkaido and Sapporo.

“The desire to set our plays in Hokkaido’s towns such as Sapporo comes from the wish for people from all across the prefecture to come and see our work. The setting for Haru no Yasokyoku (Nocturne) is Nakajima Island in Shobuike Lake of Nakajima Park. The play Nishisen Juichi jo no Aria is set at the streetcar’s “Nishisen juichi jo” stop. For plays’ titles, we use proper nouns like ‘Junichi Watanabe Bungakukan,’ ‘Shindori Ichiba,’ ‘Chuo Toshokan,’ and ‘Susukino’ and expand on local topics. When we are practicing we often visit the place that the play is set in, and observe the feeling of the town and the people that live there. We actually stand at the train stop and think about our own performance.

In the past, there were not many opportunities to perform plays more than once, but in Sapporo the “Sapporo theater season,” where old plays are performed again, is gradually becoming more and more established. Also, every year in November there is a celebration of the arts called “Theater Go Round” where plays, opera, music, puppet shows, etc. compete on 9 stages as a part of the Sapporo Art Stage program. Depending on how well they do, their chances of being selected for the “Sapporo Theater Season” increase. So, the performers’ wish for people to come and see them gets stronger every year. We are thankful for the opportunity to be able to put on our performances again, and it is wonderful as a performer to be able to hold on to one role and continue living with it.”

I want to make a city theater where the locals to come together.

“During the theater season in February 2012, we projected Korean subtitles during our performance for the tourists that came to Sapporo to enjoy the snow festival. In the U.S. and Europe, theaters in each city are places for the young and old to come together. I think that the foreigners that come to our performances are not coming solely to see our acting, but to experience the feeling of the town through its theater. As actors, we want to keep presenting plays as a way to make the theater a place for local people to get involved.”

In addition to being an actress, Ms. Miyata recently has been holding acting workshops in elementary schools and junior high schools to teach communication skills through acting. Performing is thinking about her role while observing others. She says that the same is true of communication. The day when the children that Ms. Miyata encounters will grow up to enjoy a day at the theater is not far off.

Sapporo Art Stage / Theater Go Round 2013 participant Sapporoza’s 40th Performance “Rossum’s Universal Robots”

DateNovember 29 (Fri)—December 2 (Mon), 2013
VenueSunpiazza Theater (Atsubetsu-chuo 2-jo 5-chome 7-2, Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo)


Sapporoza Actress

Born in Mitsuishi, Shinhidaka-cho. Joined TPS (Now Sapporoza) in 2001 through the A.G.S studio. She has performed in plays such as Fuyu no Baieru, Nishisen 11-jo no Aria, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Peer Gynt, Bremen no Jiyu, Shimotsuki Sayokyoku and has participated in overseas performances in Korea and Hungary. She is not only an actress, but also produces and holds workshops for people from elementary school students to adults. She also works as a presenter, narrator and reporter. She also has experience as a Jazz vocalist at a hotel lounge. Her special skill is Tai Chi.