TUFS students participate in internships at Theatre Office Natori

June 1st ~ June 7th, 2018

Two students from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS), who were in the middle of exchange studies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, had the opportunity to participate in internships at Theatre Office Natori.

Theatre Office Natori was established in 1996 as a production company, focusing on the production of plays and dance performances.  In addition to undertaking performances of the works of modern playwrights such as Minoru Betsuyaku throughout the world, Theatre Office Natori has also been responsible for introducing overseas playwrights, both from the east and the west, to Japan.  This has included arranging the translation and performance of works by Russian playwrights who are representative of 20th century Russian theater, such as, Mikhail Bulgakov, N.Ptushkina, Nina Sadur, Aleksandr Vampilov, and Aleksei Arbuzov.  Additionally, Theatre Office Natori organized an International Ibsen Festival in Tokyo, towards the goal of introducing Henrik Ibsen’s works to Japanese audiences.  Their recent production of The Butcher, written by Nicolas Billon and performed by Kyo Ogasawara, has received numerous Yomiuri Theater Awards and Kinokuniya Theatre Awards, resulting in their theater company receiving high praise as a leader in modern Japanese theater.

The internship offered the TUFS students the opportunity to learn about translation work associated in supporting an overseas performance; in this case Minoru Betsuyaku’s play Zo (Elephant), which was performed by Manabe Takashi, and which was seventh in a series of overseas productions supported by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs.  This overseas performance is part of the Russian and Japanese governments’ program of bilateral cultural exchanges, known as “Japanese year in Russia,” which has received a lot of notice in Russia.  The piece was performed on the 2nd and 3rd of June at the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater in St. Petersburg, and on the 6th and 7th of June at Raykin Higher School of Performing Arts in Moscow.

 Beyond facilitating communication through translation between the Russian stage staff and the production company staff in regard to sound, lighting, and stage production, the students who participated in the internship also translated the comments and impressions of audience members for the Japanese staff.

Below are the impressions of the students.

  • ) This was my first opportunity to do translation work related to culture, so it was a very good experience.  The first thing I learned was that as a translator, it is very important to acquire a good understanding of the necessary technical terms before taking on a translation task, lest one’s misunderstandings lead to error’s in the translation.

The second thing I learned was just how profound theater is.  A simple turn of phrase can lend a deeper meaning to an actor’s gesticulations or to how they express emotion; such cultural exchanges as I participated in allow for other people to have a deeper understanding of Japan.

  • ) Being able to have such close-hand experience of professional translation work, and of the work performed by people in the theater, was an enormously rewarding experience.  I had worried that finding an opportunity to utilize my Russian-language knowledge in a work setting; nonetheless this internship showed me how much demand there is for people with Russian-language skills, and reiterated to me the significance of foreign language study.  Additionally, I also experienced how important and how fun communication between Japanese and Russians can be.

Internship overview

Date: June 1st (Fri.) ~ June 7th (Thu.), 2018

Internship venue: Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater(Emb. Reki Fontanki, 65, St. Petersburg 191023, Russia),Raykin Higher School of Performing Arts(Sheremet’yevskaya st., 6, Moscow, 129594, Russia)

Theatre Office Natori personnel

Mr. Toshiyuki Natori, President of Theatre Office Natori, Tokyo

2 TUFS students