1. Theatre for All
    Photo: ©Hajime Fukuma‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’
  2. Theatre for All
    Photo: Ai Nakagawa‘The Day When I Was Born’
  3. Theatre for All
    Photo: Theatre for All‘Nelken Line @ Kyoto Documentary’
  4. Theatre for All
    Photo: ©2018 King Production Co.Ltd.Rakugo musical ‘Okiku no Sara’

5 videos to watch on the Theatre for All streaming service

Plays, movies and documentaries on this accessible streaming service are available with subtitles, audio description and more

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Theatre for All
Advertising

The accessible video streaming service Theatre for All lets you watch movies and documentaries, as well as contemporary theatre, dance and art performances, complete with English and Chinese subtitles, detailed narration and sign language interpretation. It’s designed to be inclusive and easy to enjoy for everyone, regardless of language or disability. Plus, to constantly improve the service, Theatre for All Lab regularly teams up with people with disabilities to try out different accessible options.

The lineup of videos changes regularly and includes content that’s free to watch, as well as paid releases. To start watching, you’ll first have to sign up via Theatre for All’s official website. Making an account is free, but you can also consider becoming a supporter and help the service grow by purchasing a yearly subscription for ¥30,000. This deal includes unlimited access to Theatre for All’s full range of videos, like movies, plays, documentaries, learning programmes, interactive workshops, discussions and more. 

To help you decide what to watch first, check out this list of recommended videos.

‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’ by Yoshihiro Fujita and the Masuda City Iwami Kagura Shinwa-kai
Photo: ©Hajime Fukuma

‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’ by Yoshihiro Fujita and the Masuda City Iwami Kagura Shinwa-kai

Shimane prefecture is famous for its traditional performing art Iwami kagura, which originated back in the 14th century as an entertainment ritual for Shinto deities. ‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’ is a new take on this classic ceremonial dance, which has been produced by choreographer Yoshihiro Fujita, who spiced up the piece with some contemporary dance elements.

The story is a fusion between the legend of Shoki and the Japanese story of Somin Shorai. The first sees the Chinese deity Zhong Kui fight plagues in the guise of demons by using a large hemp hoop. The second story is about a poor man who helped a god disguised as a traveller. In return, his family was saved from disease by wearing miscanthus wreaths around their waists.

The piece is supported by traditional Iwami kagura melodies using drums, flutes and cymbals. Dancers wear either flowing white or black clothing, emphasising their good or evil character. The terrifying demon creatures representing epidemics are dressed in elaborate traditional costumes and are defeated by Shoki’s magical white hoop.

The plot of the dynamic and colourful play is explained upfront and through English subtitles, so it’s easy to follow the story.

Duration: 63 minutes
Cost: Free
Subtitles: English

‘Nelken Line @ Kyoto Documentary’ by Emuralabo and Koichi Emura
Photo: Theatre for All

‘Nelken Line @ Kyoto Documentary’ by Emuralabo and Koichi Emura

This documentary by director Koichi Emura follows the process of putting together a line dance performance in Kyoto. ‘The Nelken Line’ (1982) by world-renowned German choreographer Pina Bausch represents an inclusive, accessible society and has been performed around the globe by people of all ages and abilities. The dance is done to Louis Armstrong’s ‘West End Blues’, with a few simple gestures making up the choreography, which is designed to evoke the four seasons.

The 40-minute long documentary explores the entire process of putting on this famous line dance in Kyoto, using the Rohm Theatre Kyoto and the spacious surroundings of the city’s famous Heian Shrine as its stage. You can clearly see that ‘The Nelken Line’ does not need to be performed perfectly. Instead, the dance focuses on the fact that participants should have fun and be able to express themselves.

The end of the documentary includes the final piece of the dance, with participants dressed in colourful clothes. While watching, you’ll definitely feel like taking part in this unique dance performance yourself.

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: Free
Subtitles: English

Advertising
Rakugo musical ‘Okiku no Sara’ by Yonosuke Kingentei and Ragg
Photo: ©2018 King Production Co.Ltd.

Rakugo musical ‘Okiku no Sara’ by Yonosuke Kingentei and Ragg

This unique piece combines rakugo, Japan’s traditional art of storytelling, with samba-style music, featuring rakugo storyteller Yonosuke Kingentei and his band Ragg.

The performance is a modern arrangement of the classic rakugo ghost story ‘Okiku no Sara’, featuring the beautiful servant Okiku and the samurai Aoyama Tessan, who was deeply in love with Okiku. Okiku was completely indifferent to his advances, so eventually Tessan killed her by hanging her upside down in the mansion’s well. After her death, Okiku came back as a vengeful spirit to haunt the samurai. The piece tells a fictional story about a group of people visiting the well during the coronavirus pandemic to see if Okiku is still haunting the area.

Before the performance starts, you will get an English introduction to traditional rakugo. The performance includes original songs and music by Kingentei with lyrics matching each scene.

Though the original story sounds quite scary, this new take on ‘Okiku no Sara’ plays up the comedy. Gloomy and funny sound and light effects emphasise the changes in atmosphere throughout the story. The subtitles manage to capture the playfulness of the storyteller even in English, using a casual tone and different colours to indicate the different characters’ voices as the storyteller performs them.

Duration: 56 minutes
Cost: ¥1,000
Subtitles: English

‘The Day When I Was Born’ by Tanpopo-No-Ye Art Center Hana
Photo: les contes

‘The Day When I Was Born’ by Tanpopo-No-Ye Art Center Hana

The Day When I Was Born’ is a play by the Nara-based Tanpopo-No-Ye Art Center Hana. Its theatre programme Hanaplay lets members with disabilities express their personalities through visual and performing arts.

The play combines stories from the actors’ past with memories of former member of the troupe Keiji Matsumoto, who passed away suddenly a few years ago. The play is divided into different episodes, with Matsumoto represented by a performer dressed in white, who guides the audience through the play.

Current members re-create incidents from their past, such as funny situations from their time at school and even a trip to Okinawa. The play ends with the day of Matsumoto’s death. One performer places a flower bouquet on his empty wheelchair and prays, while photos of Matsumoto are projected to a screen in the background.

Duration: about 57 minutes
Cost: ¥1,000
Subtitles: English

Advertising
‘Midnight Walk Tour / Tokyo 2020’ by SIDE CORE
Photo: Theatre for All

‘Midnight Walk Tour / Tokyo 2020’ by SIDE CORE

Sakie Takasu, Toru Matsushita and Taishi Nishihiro, members of art collective Side Core, take you on a night walk through Tokyo’s hip neighbourhoods Harajuku and Shibuya, while unveiling hidden artworks. You’ll encounter a variety of large and small pieces of street art and murals scattered around the area, while getting to know the history of certain buildings, streets and areas.

The journey starts at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Jingumae, where owner Koichi Watari talks about the concept behind the facility and its previous exhibitions featuring international artists. You’ll not only get to see works by Side Core themselves, but also those of American artist and designer Kaws, who has collaborated with many brands of the Urahara (Ura-Harajuku) area, and German artist Dennis Fuchs, who’s known for his funny sign boards.

Harajuku was once home to lots of graffiti, but most of the works have been removed in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Thanks to Side Core, you’ll still be able to find the last few remaining ones, such as those by American contemporary artist and muralist Espo and French urban artist Invader.

This documentary shows Harajuku and Shibuya from a different perspective, turning the walk into a treasure hunt for unique street art combined with interesting stories of Tokyo’s contemporary art scene.

Available from June 23 to August 23
Duration: 88 minutes
Cost: ¥1,000
Subtitles: English and Chinese

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising