I’m sitting in a tatami room at the Katakuracho Kumin center, waiting for Mari and Takahiko to show up. Hiraku is on sabbatical until the two shows he’s committed to are over (my suggestion, since he was starting to look like he was operating on no sleep); Mayu is on training for work this week; and Saori has started additional classes on top of her work schedule.
When I got to the space, I thought we had the whole room. I was rather surprised to find two obaasan fussing around inside it after I came back from the toilets. They were using the sliding doors in the space to section off a square part of the room.
Then one of them started asking me if our group was going to make loud noises and could we not, please, because they were doing yoga. Huh? I informed her that we would do our best, but that this was Theatre, and that we were rehearsing, and I couldn’t make any guarantees. I’d told her we’d try, but we would have to at least speak at normal conversational tones.
This once again serves to illustrate the problem with not having a proper venue. It’s not simply the cost of renting spaces that is the problem: it’s the inflexibility of said spaces, and their unsuitability for Theatre rehearsals.
I contacted the real estate agent managing the building at Kanagawa-Shinmachi that we’ve occasionally worked in, courtesy another Theatre group. I once asked one of the guys in that Theatre group how much it cost to rent per month, and he told me 180,000. I thought about it later and realized I must have misheard him. He must have said 80,000. The building is so decrepit, and it’s totally unoccupied except for that group, that the number couldn’t be right.
It was. The next smallest room, at 43 square meters, would have cost us 230,000. The agent, very kindly, offered to bring it down to 200,000. I told him that he could call me when the owner was serious about actually having tenants. The agent told me that we were unlikely to do better. He may be right, but we simply couldn’t afford that. Even with the Theatre school running at full tilt, 230,000 yen would be pushing it. It might be doable if we were in downtown Tokyo and could rent the space out to other groups the way my friends at the Our Space rehearsal lounge do. But not at some po-dunk station halfway between Kawasaki and Yokohama, and not in a building in that condition. This is evidenced by the fact that we appear to be the only Theatre company that sublets from the group already renting the space there and the fact that the small amount they charge us in no way covers their costs.
If anyone has any suggestions about where to look next, I’m all ears. Next week, I will be visiting the Yokohama Arts Council to see if they have space tucked away somewhere, but I’m not terribly hopeful. What I really need is a private landlord whose sense of pride isn’t so bloated that he’d rather make 0 Yen rather than 30,000 Yen while he holds out for bubble-era prices.
As for today… I expect either Takahiko or Mari to show up any minute. Maybe we’ll do some quiet voice exercises or something. I might take some time and force them to write their biographies for the web site. Hmm….