Preview: Shinsai: Theaters for Japan

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From the March 8, 2012 edition

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the triple disaster that struck the Tohoku region of Japan. Human loss and emotional tragedy aside, recovery from the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami is estimated to require billions of dollars.

The consuming loss for the Japanese had its own effect on Jessie Glover Boettcher, a Wild Goose Creative board member. She kept up on news from the region even as it faded from the spotlight.

When she heard about the theatrical fundraising relief effort of Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, she jumped on the chance to bring its mission to Columbus.

Wild Goose is one of more than 60 theaters across the country participating in this event, at which actors will perform 10- to 15-minute dramatic plays about Japan. Ticket sales ($20 at Wild Goose) and additional donations will go to the Japan Playwrights Association to distribute among the affected Japanese theater community.

“I’m really excited about the fact that this is an opportunity to engage in an ongoing crisis, one that is continuing to be massively difficult to recover from,” Glover Boettcher said. “This is a small effort, but hopefully a useful one. I like that it’s an artistic response.”

The Wild Goose show will include a Japanese-food cooking demonstration followed by local actors performing four plays that were written after the disaster by playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda, Toshiki Okada, Shoji Kokami and Suzan-Lori Parks.

“The plays are surprising takes on remembering and engaging with the way that lives change after something like this,” Glover Boettcher said, from the telling of an elderly woman who won’t leave her house even though she lives in an area threatened by nuclear radiation to the tale of a man remembering the disaster in a dreamscape.

Glover Boettcher, who is producing and directing the Wild Goose presentation, said, “It’s really terrific how people have been excited and warm about the concept.” She’s received plenty of artistic support from the area, and a group of volunteers helped Glover Boettcher make thousands of paper cranes that will hang around the stage. Their presence has reaffirmed for Glover Boettcher that every helping hand counts.

“I’m hoping [‘Shinsai: Theaters for Japan’] will be a great opportunity for people to look at the tragedy from a different angle,” Glover Boettcher said. “It’s really part of the ongoing story of Japan now, and it will continue to leave a mark for a long time.”