ICU student Kai Nakagawa successfully applied for a JICUF spring term grant on behalf of Theater Niji, a student theatrical group that performs musicals both locally and internationally. The ¥400,000 grant was used to help cover the cost of the “8th Rainbow Bridge Project,” a series of performances by Theater Niji in Indonesia. “Niji” means “rainbow” in Japanese, and the group’s goal is to bridge people’s hearts by presenting musicals in communities with little access to the arts.
Student members travelled to Indonesia in March, and stayed with local families in Ciherang Village, Jakarta and Simokerto Subdistrict, Surabaya. The group performed the musical “Koko and the Magical Compass” at schools and community centers.
This was the third time that Theater Niji performed in Indonesia, with the first two performances being in 2006 and 2013. They have also performed in India (2008), the Philippines (2009 and 2015) and Kenya (2010).
We had a chance to interview Kai.
JICUF: Congratulations on receiving the JICUF grant this spring! Please introduce your group, Theater Niji.
Kai: Theater Niji was founded on May 5th, 2001, to perform musicals for people who have little access to the theater. We have been performing about 20 times a year in preschools, elementary schools and nursing homes around ICU, in Mitaka-shi and Musashino-shi.
JICUF: Please tell us about Theater Niji’s performances in Indonesia which took place in March.
Kai: We put on 10 shows in elementary schools and community halls in Jakarta and Surabaya between March 4th and 20th. 14 student members including freshmen through seniors participated in the trip.
JICUF: What was the biggest accomplishment in your Indonesian tour? (What was the best / most memorable part of your experience?)
Kai: Staying in villages, eating local food, taking walks with children and performing – the days we spent there were rich and fulfilling. The fact that we were accepted as family members by the local people rather than guests from Japan made it very special.
JICUF: Did you encounter any difficulties? Are there things you would do differently in your next overseas tour?
Kai: The coordinators for our trip were locally-based Indonesian people and we had difficulty communicating with them. We feel we should have made more requests.
JICUF: What are Theater Niji’s future plans?
Kai: We plan to continue with our spring and fall performances in the local area, ICU Festival performance, and summer performance in Tohoku. In December, we are planning a trip to the Philippines. It makes us happy that the connections we made two years ago in the Philippines led us to return there.
JICUF: Finally, do you have a message for alumni and supporters in North America?
Kai: Our goal is to deliver musical performances to children, but it is a constant struggle to find funding for it. We are truly grateful for the grant from the JICUF. We will continue to work hard to make children around the world smile. Thank you very much for your support!
JICUF: Thank you for your time, Kai. Good luck with your future performances!