Veteran Studio Ghibli Composer Explains Why The Piece Isn’t Produced In Japan.
If you were to look Totoroyou’ll likely begin your search in a Japanese forest, perhaps even the wooded section of Saitama Prefecture that served as the inspiration for the setting of the My Neighbor Totoro film. But this fall, Totoro will be waiting for fans on the other side of the planet, because the beloved Studio Ghibli anime is being adapted as a live-action play by the UK’s Royal Shakespeare Company.
As with the stage adaptations of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Taken away as if by magicanime director Hayao Miyazaki is not directly involved in the production. There is, however, one key member of the original Totoro the anime creative team taking on a key role. Joe Hisashicomposer for Totoro (as well as other Ghibli classics such as Nausicaa, Princess Mononokeand Taken away as if by magic) will be the play executive producer. In fact, it was Hisaishi who first came up with the idea of a Totoro play to Miyazaki, who responded with “If you take care of it, Hisaishi, then OK.”
▼ Video preview for the My Neighbor Totoro play
The play will be directed by Phelim McDermottwith a screenplay written by Tom Morton Smith. It’s also worth noting that the preview video gives the screen time of puppeteer Basil Twistimplying that Totoro will come to life using practical effects.
▼ We can see your teeth, Totoro!
Hisaishi, who is in charge of the music for the play, praised the team’s talent and unwavering love for the anime’s source material. As to why the piece is being produced outside of Japan, he commented:
“I was involved in the original work, so I’m convinced that I don’t want to break the identity of the film. If the play was first produced and performed in Japanese, the play and the film would end up overlapping in people’s minds. So I thought it was better if the piece was produced overseas.
I believe My Neighbor Totoro has a universal quality, and if that’s true, then even though it’s produced in a different language by people who grew up in a completely different culture [from Japan]I believe it can still move people all over the world.
This open-minded attitude does not, however, mean that Hisaishi is ambivalent about loyalty to the atmosphere of the source material. “There are concerns that a stage adaptation in a foreign country could make the play a flashy spectacle. “Let’s not let Totoro fly around” is something I said. The staff establishes a good relationship where we can honestly and openly exchange opinions with each other.
the My Neighbor Totoro the play is due to run from October 8 to January 21 at the Barbican Center theater in London, with ticket bookings opening on May 9.
Source: Official site of the play My Neighbor Totoro, PR time
The featured image: YouTube/Royal Shakespeare Company
Top picture: Studio Ghibli
Insert images: PR Times, YouTube/Royal Shakespeare Company
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