"The Tempest: Swimming for Beginners" was created by people of all backgrounds, regardless of disability, nationality, gender, age or experience, with the aspiration to produce a production that can be enjoyed by everyone. Jenny Sealey, a pioneer of the UK disability arts movement and co-director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony, oversaw the production as Artistic Director. The project launched in February 2019 as a key programme in the UK in JAPAN initiative. After more than two years of preparation and postponement due to Covid-19, the production was presented to the public in June 2021.
The play was a bold modern reworking of Shakespeare's final play, that reflects the impact of Covid-19 on the world. The production featured disabled directors and cast members from three countries - Japan, the UK and Bangladesh. In addition to their diverse national and cultural backgrounds, the different disabilities of the cast were incorporated into the production.
There were also many unexpected challenges in the development of the play. Covid-19 made it difficult for Jenny to visit Japan, and instead she directed remotely with the British and Bangladeshi performers participating via video. This new version of The Tempest is a creation of overcoming the barriers of culture, language and disability.
Script: William Shakespeare, Pamela Carter
Original script tranlation: Kazuko Matsuoka
Text translation: Keiko Nagata
Artistic direction: Jenny Sealey
Direction: Hiroe Ohashi, Yasushi Oka
Cast: Hiroe Ohashi, Sachika Segawa, Rio Sekiba, Hidetada Tashiro, Kazumi Hiratsuka, Kotaro Yanagi
Cast in the video: (UK) Phillipa Cole, Fatima Niemogha, Jack Hunter, Jenny Sealey / (Bangladesh) Mohammad Saddam Bepary, Morshed Mia
Organised by: British Council, Toshima Mirai Cultural Foundation, Toshima City
In Association with: Graeae Theatre Company, Dhaka Theatre
Supported by: Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture