Building on the experience of a British Council Scotland-funded trip to Japan in 2017, Tricky Hat returned to the country in April this year. The company's Artistic Director, Fiona Miller, shares their experience of the trip.
Our intention was to create collaborations between Japanese artists, arts organisations and groups of older people, and The Flames, our performance company for people over 50.
We felt it was important for the whole team to get a sense of Japanese culture if the collaborations were to be successful. Thanks to the Japan rail pass, our core creative team - Fiona Miller (Artistic Director) and Associate Artists Kim Beveridge (Digital Artist) and Mick Slaven (Musician) - travelled to cities and rural communities the length of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, where we met with an amazing range of artists.
They included musician Mokoto Nomura, who has collaborated internationally and created music projects using roof tiles; Miki, a scriptwriter whose favourite TV programme is “Chewing the Fat”; and a theatre in the mountains of Nishi-Waga where the amphitheatre (a lake) is under water all winter.
We also enjoyed a morning warm-up with a group of older people in Natori who have been rehoused after the 2011 tsunami devastated their homes. The older people we met on our travels were just like the older people we meet here, and although we couldn’t understand everything they said, the humour was the same.
Our use of digital art makes The Flames ideal for international collaborations, and the people we met were excited to find ways to work with us. We have started three digital collaborations with older people from Japan, and the results of some of these will be included in The Flames’ performance at Tramway in Glasgow, on 13 October.
The landscape and travelling experience on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) have inspired Tricky Hat’s Associate Artists to create new work, some of which we will be exploring at Cove Park in November with a group featuring members of The Flames.
We see this trip as a starting point. We want to share and work with what people have to say about the world in the 21st century. Contacts were made, and we are continuing to make new connections in Japan and plan to develop joint performances, both digital and live, with older people in Scotland and Japan over the next three years.