An Expression of Sympathy to the Disaster Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake
I would like to offer my prayers for the peaceful repose of those who lost their lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake, and convey my deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by this tragic event. I am praying for your rapid recovery.
When the earthquake struck on March 11, the Opera Studiofs final performance of the season, Il Tabarro, was being staged at the Playhouse. The shaking continued for a very long time, and when it finally subsided, the audience members were led outside of the Playhouse where we had them wait. Roughly 200 audience members and others who were unable to get home because of the disruptions in the transportation system spent the night at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. I understand that no visitors were injured, there was no major panic immediately following the earthquake, and so we were able to respond to this emergency.
At the start of the following week, on March 14, we discussed once again how best to handle the situation, and given how extensive the scale and scope of the impact was, we decided to cancel all remaining performances in the month of March—both our own and those by organizations that had rented our theaters—and we subsequently made that announcement.
This was the first time in the history of the New National Theatre that we had cancelled one of our performances, but we felt compelled to make this difficult decision given the gravity of the situation. We were sorry to disappoint those who had been looking forward to the performances, but hope that they will understand.
As we face this major disaster, I believe that what we as a theater can do, the role that we can play, is to support the recovery through the power of the arts. In order to help lift the spirits of those in the affected regions, we are planning to look for an appropriate time to have the New National Theatre Chorus hold a get-well concert in the affected region.
We have received an outpouring of messages from foreign singers and artists who have performed at this theater, and from our colleagues at theaters around the world, expressing their concern for the victims of the tragedy, wishing them a speedy recovery, and expressing their support for our theater. We have also received many inquiries about donations, as people want to find some way to help. We have also received many kind words of encouragement from our patrons.
The New National Theatre, Tokyo, will resume all performances from April. We will do our utmost to ensure the safety of our guests and to conserve electricity while presenting our performances in the belief that cultural and artistic energy can provide strength to the recovery efforts.
Our upcoming performances are as follows:
Opera: Der Rosenkavalier—5 performances, April 10 (Sun.) - April 22 (Fri.)
Ballet: Aladdin—7 performances, May 2 (Mon.) - May 8 (Sun.)
Drama: Waiting for Godot—17 performances, April 15 (Fri.) - May 1 (Sun.)
Let me conclude by saying that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this devastating tragedy. They are facing tremendous challenges, and we will continue to give them our support and encouragement in order to hasten the day when their lives and communities will fully recover.
President, New National Theatre, Tokyo