The Garden of Words a stage adaptation of the stereotype-defying Anime and novel by a world-renowned Japanese filmmaker, Makoto Shinkai, We spoke to cast member Aki Nakagawa
Tell us what The Garden of Words is about and what you think the play means to tell the audience?
In a nutshell I think it’s about seven characters in all walks of life, all trying to navigate or try and find their ground. Some of these characters’ lives are interwoven together and influence each other as the story progresses. It makes the audience reflect at certain points in their life and when they had a certain connection with someone. How you were changed from the experience or What you learnt from that specific encounter.
Do you think the story is viewed differently in the UK and Japan, or that the two countries take different things from it?
I think so because Japanese and British culture are so different, whether you’re talking about the workplace, school environment or relationship culture in Japan. I grew up in my childhood and early adulthood in both Japan and Western countries. So I understand both but for people who know one side of the culture some things might come as culture shock. So I am excited to hear the feedback from both UK and Japanese audiences.
When did you first come across the story
I first saw the animation on Netflix. The beautiful visual animation initially drew me to it. Also I used to live in Tokyo and work in Shinjuku where the story takes place so it was very nostalgic to watch.
What’s your role in the show and how do you approach it?
I’m playing Yukari Yukino. I’ve been trying to extract clues from the novel ‘Garden of Words’ as there is more in depth information about the characters in the book. It is really helpful as it is written in the POV of each character and you really get to know what is going inside their head. From this I’m trying to build a core of the character; what persona they build in front of people and what they are like in private. Also it’s always interesting to think about what their fears are and what gives them joy.
Is this similar to previous roles you’ve played? What do you think the challenges will be?
No not at all. I think the challenge is to move away from just playing the image of the animation version, which I know a lot of the audience will have that in mind when they come to watch the show. I would like to break from that and really play a three dimensional person living in the current world that people could relate to.
The Garden of Words is presented by Whole Hog Theatre in association with Park Theatre at Park Theatre until 9 September https://parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-garden-of-words/about