Highlights of 2009

 
 

    Yes, it’s been a wonderful year for KGB! It started with a few days at Kagoshima, in Kyushu, with beautiful views of the volcano on Sakurajima Island, where we went cycling. Later in the month we made a trip to Singapore to attend a concert by the famous Hong-Kong singer George Lam (who was my student in UK back in 1965). The climate there was unexpectedly temperate though only a few degrees from the equator. We stayed in the famous Raffles Hotel, in a room with windows at least four metres high. Near the end of January KB went to Tokyo to receive her prize as a winner in the annual NHK (Japan’s BBC) National Haiku Poetry Contest (for the third time!). In early February GB went to Kashiwa to attend the Kick-Off Party of the so-called P&M Project, the planned production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s “Pelleas & Melisande” to be performed on October 3rd, Reitaku University’s Homecoming Day, for which GB made several trips to Reitaku University during March, May, July, September for blocking and work-through of the play, and on 26th December we had a wonderful End-of-Work Party attended by sixteen project members and helpers.   

    In April we had a visit from Louis Eastman, son of my U.K. sculptor friend Tony Eastman (who created a wind-and-dragon sculpture at Hijikawa Wind Museum in 1994). We took Louis  and his friend Tom Parker to Hijikawa, where we met Mr. Hayashi, the now-retired headmaster of the Primary School Louis attended for three weeks in 1994. We had a few good drinking sessions with Louis and Tom!

    On 2nd May, KB, who worked at Reitaku University Library for 15 years till 1976, held a luncheon party for Ms Yumiko Tomonaga, a former colleague in the Reference Section, who retired this year.

    On June 26, Meitoku International Players performed Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (directed by GB) in Kochi City to an audience of 400, who clearly enjoyed themselves.

    On 4th July, GB reached the ripe old age of 70. On the 16th, a group of Meitoku teachers held a special birthday party for GB in a hotel in Kochi.

    2009 also happened to be GB’s 40th year in Japan and 15th working for Meitoku Gijuku as Director of the International Players. KB made a comprehensive chart of all dramas directed by GB from 1969 to 2009 with Reitaku University English Drama Group (R.U.E.D.G.), Reitaku University E.S.S., Reitaku High School E.S.S., Feste English Speaking Theatre (FESTE), South Ehime English Drama Society (S.E.E.D.S.), Hijikawa English Study Group and Summer Schools, and Meitoku International Players (M.I.P.). The chart includes plays directed by Merwyn Torikian with R.U.E.D.G. since 1994. Click on this hyperlink to view complete chart (Needs Excel):  DramaChart(Main).xls

    On August 11th, a special ceremony and lunch party were held for the 40th Anniversary of the Okada Juku, a summer school for local children held every year since 1970. Founded by Mr. Yoshiharu Fujita, Masayuki Okada (one of GB’s first Reitaku students who sadly passed away in 1992) and GB, it has promoted a spirit of studying together in a friendly atmosphere. The occasion was greatly honoured by the attendance of Mr. Mototaka Hiroike (President of the Institute of Moralogy, on which the principles of Reitaku University are based) and his wife.

    In September, KB won Third Prize in a Haiku Poetry Contest sponsored by Ehime Newspaper. Her poem referred to Utamaro, the ukiyoe artist, and the famous Hijikawa rhododendrons. On 17th we made a trip to Tokyo to see Verdi’s great opera “Don Carlos” performed by La Scala Opera and Orchestra in Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno—a four-hour marathon. The costumes and sets were beautifully blended, almost more memorable than the music itself.

    Events reached a climax on October 3rd, Reitaku University’s Homecoming Day, which also celebrated the university’s 50th anniversary. In the morning George Lam and his friends MiMi Chan and Winnie Fong arrived from Hong Kong in time to see GB receiving a certificate of appreciation from university President Nakayama for his cultural contribution to the university for 40 years (even though he retired in 1994). GB called George to the stage as one of his very first students in UK 45 years ago. In the afternoon “Pelleas & Melisande” was performed in the Small Theatre, which was full to capacity. The production was also a memorial to 14 Old Members of the Reitaku English Drama Group who had passed away during the last twenty years. The “extraordinary” cast included 6 OMs over 50 years old and another 6 over 40. (See the P&M page on this website). Following the performance was a Drama Group Reunion held in the Campus Plaza Hotel, and a “second’ party in the campus house of Merwyn Torikian, GB’s nephew, now Director of R.U.E.D.G. A specially signed poster of Kabuki actors Koshiro Matsumoto, his son Somegoro Ichikawa and grandson Kintaro was presented to KGB by Kinjiro Matsumoto (formerly Kenta Tamura, OB of R.U.E.D.G.), who is now a member of the Matsumoto Kabuki troupe. On the way back to Shikoku we visited my U.K. friend Phil Booth, a sculptor, who has been teaching at Nagoya University of Arts for the past seven years. There we viewed Phil’s very impressiveand spectacular retrospective exhibition of sculptural works and drawings.

    On 27th November, Meitoku International Players presented GB’s production of “Little Women” in Kochi City, to a very enthusiastic response. From 24th for three days, photograph artist Junpei Tainaka, who had acted the role of Pelleas on 3rd October, visited Meitoku to take some “professional” pictures of GB. (To be added to website soon.)

    In December, KB received another letter from NHK about the National Haiku Poetry Contest, but the results cannot be announced till January! For the second time, GB did Father Christmas for a local kindergarten. KGB stayed with Merwyn’s family for Christmas, also for the second time.

    During the year GB continued converting old video tapes of R.U.E.D.G. and E.S.S. stage productions to DVDs, these now numbering over 60 and include the 150-minute documentary of the E.S.S. (“The ESSence of ESS”) made in 1982. See the separate page on this website for further details of these DVDs.

A WONDERFUL YEAR FOR KGB