Whole Hog Theatre In Association With Park Theatre Presents THE GARDEN OF WORDS World Premiere

An adaptation of the stereotype-defying Anime and novel by a world-renowned Japanese filmmaker.

By: May. 31, 2023
Whole Hog Theatre In Association With Park Theatre Presents THE GARDEN OF WORDS World Premiere

The Garden of Words is an adaptation of the stereotype-defying Anime and novel by world-renowned Japanese filmmaker, Makoto Shinkai. The stage adaptation will have its world premiere at Park Theatre 10 August – 9 September, and the show's November run in Tokyo was announced today.

Premiering in the UK before its Japanese opening, the world's first stage adaptation of Makoto Shinkai's Anime and novel, The Garden of Words, is a story of what it is to feel alone in the biggest metropolis in the world. Whilst seeking solace in a rainy Japanese garden, an out-of-step woman and an offbeat teenager meet by chance. Takao and Yukari are escaping; when they find each other, the social misfits develop an unlikely bond over classical poetry, shoemaking, bad cooking and a shared sense of loneliness. But what at first seems to be a simple and poetic story of connection begins to cloud. The production delves deeper into the grey: exploring the fragility of humans and the line between platonic and romantic longing, it asks if an inter-generational friendship can genuinely exist, regardless of age and position. This interdisciplinary adaptation brings Shinkai's visually emotive story to the stage through puppetry, movement and projection art. Performed in English with occasional Japanese. 

The Garden of Words is a new Anglo-Japanese collaboration from the UK's Whole Hog Theatre, creators of the world's first stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki film Princess Mononoke, and Tokyo's Anime stage production specialists Nelke Planning (Attack on Titan, Naruto, Sailor Moon stage productions). Following its UK run, the show will have its Japanese premiere in Tokyo in November.

Director Alexandra Rutter said: “After a wait of more than 3 years, we could not be more delighted to finally be opening the doors to the garden. We are truly honoured to bring the world-class, complex and beautiful work of Makoto Shinkai to London. Following an unimaginable period of global isolation, the world is rightly questioning the status-quo on what, with whom and how we tell stories. Shinkai's work speaks to this on a deep level. In an increasingly loud and digitalised world, his meticulously crafted visual storytelling, juxtaposed with complex characters struggling for human connection, is all the more poignant. It is a privilege to stage this authentic Tokyo tale that goes beyond the cultural zeitgeist of Japan, and we hope to be part of a reimagining of anime in popular imagination that encourages both traditional and non-traditional audiences. Our thanks to our Tokyo partner of almost 10 years, Nelke Planning, and our amazing female-led team of Japanese, British East Asian and British artists'. We are no doubt at the crest of a wave of Japanese stories on stage so there has never been a more exciting time for Anglo-Japanese collaboration. We are very excited to share this with you all."

Makoto Shinkai (新海 誠) is an Japanese animation director. He made his commercial debut with Voices of a Distant Star and has since gone on to direct films such as 5 Centimeters per Second, The Garden of Words, and Weathering With You. He is best known for the box office smash hit Your Name., which became a Japanese cultural phenomenon and topped several charts including breaking the record for the highest grossing anime film in history in the UK. His latest film, Suzume also broke records around the world and is the all-time-best-selling Japanese film internationally.

Whole Hog Theatre specialises in creating Anglo-Japanese adaptations with emerging artists. Their work in the UK and Japan aims to challenge stereotypes, champion diversity and encourage new audiences to the theatre. Their seminal Anime theatre production was the world's first theatrical staging of Hayao Miyazaki's renowned animated film Princess Mononoke, produced with the kind permission of Studio Ghibli and which sold out two runs at London's New Diorama in 2013 in two days, nine months in advance of the production. Since 2015, they have had a base in Tokyo where they forge new collaborations and connect British and Japanese artists and now have a decade of experience building artistic connections between the UK and Japan. 

Park Theatre presents exceptional theatre in the heart of Finsbury Park, boasting two world-class performance spaces: Park200 for predominantly larger scale productions by established talent, and Park90, a flexible studio space, for emerging artists. In ten years, it has enjoyed eight West End transfers (including Rose starring Maureen Lipman, The Boys in the Band starring Mark Gatiss, Pressure starring David Haig and The Life I Lead starring Miles Jupp), two National Theatre transfers, 14 national tours, six Olivier Award nominations, has won multiple OffWestEnd Offie Awards and won a Theatre of the Year award from The Stage. Park Theatre are grateful to all those who have donated to the Park Life fund, supporting the venue through the pandemic.

Running Time: 1hr 45 mins (inc interval) | Suitable for ages 12+

Content warning: themes of mental health struggles, bullying and abuse of power.


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