A MULTI-CULTURAL FAMILY: A new Yorkshire theatre production explores cross-cultural families

At Yorkshire Families we want to represent ALL families who live or want to experience the region regardless of background and any barriers whether it cultural or financial etc. Our founder Sophie Mei Lan aka Mama Mei comes from her own unique background which has been/is full of lots of challenges but with a passion for the county! So we’re excited to see that there’s a new theatre production exploring cross-cultural families coming to Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Missing People by Pinter Prize-winning playwright Brad Birch explores the similarities and mistranslations of a Japanese and British family thrown together by a cross-cultural marriage. This is the first co-production between Leeds Playhouse and Kani Public Arts Center Japan, opening in Leeds from 12-21 March, following its Japanese debut at the New National Theatre in Tokyo and at Kani Public Arts Center. 

Missing People is co-directed by Leeds PlayhouseAssociate Artist Mark Rosenblatt and Kani Public Arts Center Associate Director Nobuhiro Nishikawa. The production is the centrepiece of a creative relationship shaped over two decades, sharing working practices for staff and artists across cultures and offering an insight into each other’s sector-leading organisations.

Rehearsal images show British actors Ishia Bennison (Romeo And Juliet, Royal Shakespeare Company) and Simon Darwen (Skellig, Nottingham Playhouse) alongside Japanese actors Susan Hingley, Hiroki Tanaka, Yutaka Oda, Yuri Eikawa and Natsumi Nanase.

This new play focuses on a multi-cultural family who are not as serene as they first appear. Sakiko, a Japanese woman, and her English fiancé Dan have returned to her hometown of Kani, a commuter town near Nagoya, to introduce Dan and his mother Linda to her parents so they can plan their wedding. However, under the calm surface is a family in crisis, struggling with the loss of Sakiko’s brother. As she seeks the truth about her brother, Sakiko is forced to confront her own past, her own ‘disappearance’ to live in the UK, and where her own choices have led her.

The Missing People creative team includes Rumi Matsui, a Tokyo-based set designer and scenographer; Japanese artist Rie Nishihara, who has designed the costumes; lighting designer Elliot Griggs; sound designer Matt Padden; movement by Sachi Kimura; script translator Keiko Tsuneda;and translator in the room Mikiyo Usui.    

The production is part of a series of official public events that make up the Japan Season of Culture, which aims to build public support ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad was originally launched in 2017 with a ceremony in the city’s Nihonbashi district featuring performances fusing traditional arts with modern technology.  

Missing People is supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Missing People, Courtyard Theatre, Leeds Playhouse

12 – 21 March, Press Night Mon 16 March, 7.45pm

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk

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