Premiering in the UK before its Japanese opening, the world’s first stage adaptation of Makoto Shinkai’s Anime and novel, The Garden of Words, is a story of what it is to feel alone in the biggest metropolis in the world. Whilst seeking solace in a rainy Japanese garden, an out-of-step woman and an offbeat teenager meet by chance. Takao and Yukari are escaping; when they find each other, the social misfits develop an unlikely bond over classical poetry, shoemaking, bad cooking and a shared sense of loneliness. But what at first seems to be a simple and poetic story of connection begins to cloud. The production delves deeper into the grey: exploring the fragility of humans and the line between platonic and romantic longing, it asks if an inter-generational friendship can genuinely exist, regardless of age and position. This interdisciplinary adaptation brings Shinkai’s visually emotive story to the stage through puppetry, movement and projection art. Performed in English with occasional Japanese.
The Garden of Words is a new Anglo-Japanese collaboration from the UK’s Whole Hog Theatre, creators of the world’s first stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki film Princess Mononoke, and Tokyo’s Anime stage production specialists Nelke Planning (Attack on Titan, Naruto, Sailor Moon stage productions). Following its UK run, the show will have its Japanese premiere in Tokyo in November.
Director Alexandra Rutter said: “After a wait of more than 3 years, we could not be more delighted to finally be opening the doors to the garden. We are truly honoured to bring the world-class, complex and beautiful work of Makoto Shinkai to London. Following an unimaginable period of global isolation, the world is rightly questioning the status-quo on what, with whom and how we tell stories. Shinkai’s work speaks to this on a deep level. In an increasingly loud and digitalised world, his meticulously crafted visual storytelling, juxtaposed with complex characters struggling for human connection, is all the more poignant. It is a privilege to stage this authentic Tokyo tale that goes beyond the cultural zeitgeist of Japan, and we hope to be part of a reimagining of anime in popular imagination that encourages both traditional and non-traditional audiences. Our thanks to our Tokyo partner of almost 10 years, Nelke Planning, and our amazing female-led team of Japanese, British East Asian and British artists’. We are no doubt at the crest of a wave of Japanese stories on stage so there has never been a more exciting time for Anglo-Japanese collaboration. We are very excited to share this with you all.”
The Garden of Words is at Park Theatre 10th August to 9th September 2023. More information can be found here.