Nick Park's Involvement in Princess Mononoke Play Revealed
posted on by Andrew Osmond
The English-language Japanese newspaper the Japan Times has published a feature on the British stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, which will be performed in Tokyo from April 29 to June 6. The feature mentions the involvement of Nick Park, the British creator of Wallace and Gromit, in getting the play made.
At a Tokyo press conference in March, however, film producer and Studio Ghibli director Toshio Suzuki explained how almost a year earlier he was contacted by Nick Park, the Oscar-winning clay-animation artist behind “Wallace & Gromit.” Park attached a promotion video of WHT [Whole Hog Theatre] and a clip of their stage-dramatization idea for “Princess Mononoke.”
“As we trusted Nick and have had a close relationship,” Suzuki said, “I called Miyazaki to come and watch the video with me. After a couple of seconds, he just said: 'Let's do this!' Previously, we had offers from Hollywood and big theater companies in Japan and elsewhere, but he'd never given his consent.
“So that was the moment this project began because, of course, we liked the promotion video, which showed their imaginative dance scenes — but we also liked WHT's straightforward attitude.”
Alexandra Rutter, the play's director, comments on the film's multicultural British casting.
“(It's) quite a different way of doing 'Princess Mononoke,' because we are sort of making a statement that though the film was made for Japanese audiences, the work appeals across the world. Everyone can feel its message and it strikes a chord everywhere. That wasn't something I intended, but it has been something we've been very keen to support.
“So, to have a different group of people — because Britain is very multicultural, as are our cast — representing such a different range of experiences, ages, backgrounds and cultures gives quite a different look, style and feel to the work, I think.”
The Tokyo performances of the play will be at the Aiia Theatre in Shibuya-ku, in English with Japanese subtitles. They come between the two sold-out runs at London's New Diorama Theatre, in April and late June. The Japanese run has an English-language page here.