SHOW MUST GO ON (SMGO)

It has been a turbulent month looking at the increasing cases of coronavirus infections around the world. It hasn’t been easy for anyone in all industries, looking at how unpredictable this situation is. We can only do what is best for ourselves and our loved ones – practising personal hygiene, social distancing, and not travelling around unnecessarily.

It hasn’t been easy for the entertainment industry. When the peaceful days are gone, that’s probably the last thing people can afford to spend time and money on. I see how many events, concerts, performances were cancelled or postponed. All the preparations are kind of “wasted”, schedules are messed up, companies are stuck with all plans hold up due to this situation.

ENDLESS SHOCK shows cancelled

It’s been announced that all shows will be cancelled. There goes the 20th anniversary. I read how a lot of people are disappointed and sad including the cast. But I think it’s the right decision but I’m thankful that Koichi managed to convey his thoughts clearly on this decision via his own Johnny’s web blog.

Times like this, you can trust Koichi to tell us his thoughts in his own words. I went back to read all the blog entries from the beginning of February when the show just started till the last one he shared about the announcement of cancelling the remaining shows.

Let’s have a look back at what he mentioned in these 2 months. I did some lousy translation here but you get the meaning.

SMGO Logo

5th February

The show has started smoothly.
We will run through with all cast and staff this year too.

26th February

During our off day, Ueda and I both had to work.
Ueda Tatsuya went to Shizuoka for some filming and bought me some wasabi as a souvenir.
It’s the first time in my life lying down beside wasabi.

Currently, coronavirus is rampantly spreading.
I’m thankful that the audience is wearing masks to watch the shows, to protect themselves and also the cast.
I think there must be many people worried about the shows being cancelled.
SHOCK is under the management of Toho, and will make decisions in cooperation with each theatre.
Personally, I can only pray that we can continue to perform.
I sincerely hope that those who have been infected will not get into critical condition.

27th February

It has been announced that the shows will be cancelled from 28th February to 10th March.
I have experienced show cancellations and interruptions in the past 20 years
but I cannot describe this feeling of having the curtains were drawn up and everyone sets off to the same journey every day suddenly stops.
I will prepare myself to be ready to stand on the stage anytime in hopes of resuming the shows and reunion with everyone.
I am really sorry to all who have been looking forward to the shows.
As part of the company, we share this sadness.
I hope that the virus will not be spread further.
And those who have been infected to recover soon.

6th March

I’m working on whatever I was supposed to do after the shows.
However, I find myself thinking about the shows every day.
The world is in a difficult situation.
People are focused on survival, that’s why these contents are left aside.
While the situation is not widely reported, there has been an increase in people who lost their jobs with no sort of guarantee.
I can’t ignore this situation.
Even though I do not have any authority, if we can’t gather people together, then why don’t we try this or that?
Proposals and imagination, regardless of the times, is something I can do.
I believe there is something we can get out of this.
I think this is the essence of entertainment.
In such times, instead of thinking about restrictions,
my first priority is to make sure that the involved parties, especially those who feel sad, to be happy.
It might have been right to say that I should not be saying such things and behave like a good boy giving hope to the rest by saying positive statements.
But look at the state the world is at now.
What the hell!
What? Why care about this and that rule at this time?
If we can let more people feel happy, do we need such rules?
There are too many things that made me feel this way.
I will fight to make more people happy.
I want to believe in the power of entertainment.
I have been spending time thinking like this recently.

8th March

It has been announced that we will extend the period to stop the shows.
Great times, painful times, frustrating times, sad times,
the company shares these with our audience.
About cancelling the shows, it cannot be helped considering what is happening in the world now.
Our top priorities are safety and security.
But as I have mentioned many times, we don’t just wait for the shows to resume.
In such a situation, there will be something we can produce.
Even if it’s not something we can make it happen immediately, we can think about ideas and prepare.
To deliver the amount of joy that is more than sad thoughts,
keep fighting

15th March

SHOCK goods will be available for online purchase.
It was said that it will be difficult as SHOCK involves third parties,
but with the current situation in the world,
for those who cannot come to the theatre,
I discussed the ways that we can let these people also have a chance to feel our 20th anniversary.
After talking to many parties involved, overcoming obstacles, we managed to make this a reality.
When we resume the shows (I hope we can resume…),
it will also help to ease the crowds at the theatre.
Again, every day I’m reminded how happy it was to be able to have peaceful days.

16th March

I went to the Imperial Theatre on the 15th for some meeting.
After we stopped the shows, it was the first time I went back to my dressing room.
Even though everything was cleaned and managed,
everything on my table, around my dressing table, photos of Johnny-san and Mori-san,
were left as they are on that day.
Obviously there were no one and the rooms were dark even when I opened my window.
Things that materialised, things that collapsed, things that were born,
Fleeting and precious

I’m not sure if Koshioka has retrieved the nattou left in the fridge in this dressing room.
Scary, terrible

Good halfway time.

18th March

I think there has been a notice about resuming the shows.
I will write about my candid feelings.
This time, I think the situation is really unpredictable even when many things have happened in these 20 years.
I’m aware of the various opinions and other matters that will come out.
Of course, the preparations have been done so that we can draw up the curtains anytime,
and this is a judgement that is considered carefully based on safety measures.
I trust all these.
As an actor, if I’m told that the shows will resume, I believe my mission is to stand on stage and perform.
However, considering the situation is changing every day,
if I’m told again that the shows will be cancelled, I think it’s important we accept this judgement.
Cancellation, resuming the shows, extension of the suspension period,
I think the audience are also faced with these dreadful thoughts,
but I hope for your kind understanding.

20th March

It has been announced urgently that the show will be cancelled today.
I’ll be honest.
My intentions were strong towards cancellation this time.
The organiser has been aiming to resume the shows after considering all safety measures.
All of our company has also been preparing by rehearsing each scene.
Thereafter, after watching the expert meeting yesterday, the organiser and I had a discussion again immediately.
It is, of course, important resuming the shows by matching the pace of other theatre shows, to boost entertainment.
However, in my opinion,
our audience comes from different parts of Japan to watch SHOCK,
(the expert meeting emphasised to continue avoiding gathering)
and just with the cast, we have 50 members.
As a characteristic of this show, throughout the show, there are scenes where we will be out of breath and crawling near the ground,
the actors will also speak within short distances of one another.
As part of my flying act, I also go near the audience.
I feel that the risk to continue performing like this every day is too high,
considering we can’t really say the situation has improved in the world now.
I am not treating this coronavirus lightly, and I want you to read this without any misunderstanding.
If I’m infected during the show, I will think it cannot be helped.
Or if any other member is infected, and spread to me, I will think I’m glad it’s not only you!
That’s the level I love this stage and our company.
However, what we need to think as our top priority now is not this kind of joke,
but how to stop spreading the virus.
And I can’t allow any risk on my beloved fans or my beloved co-actors by asking them to stand on stage in this situation now.
It’s a necessary thing in the entertainment industry now for others to make a judgement to resume their shows.
However, I think SHOCK is a show that has a higher risk to our audience and actors compared to other shows.
After the expert meeting, I thought we need to come up with better safety measures and thanked the organiser for considering my opinions.
With our announcement to resume the shows, and this sudden announcement to cancel again,
I feel really sorry to crush everyone’s precious time and schedule, as well as your feelings.
Given the changing situation every day, we have been preparing ourselves in a flexible way,
but I seek your kind understanding.
Please raise awareness to protect yourselves.
I hope the days we can enjoy entertainment from our hearts will come as soon as possible.

The theme of SHOCK
The essence of “Show must go on” says
even if we have to stand and stop, we will relook at where we are now,
think about what we need to do now in order to start running again…
I think this is exactly the time now.

Afterthoughts

It made me feel very touched that he’s sincerely thinking about his company and fans and made this painful decision. I think everyone hopes that the shows can be resumed but considering the situation, I stand with Koichi for his decision to protect everyone and stop the shows. I can’t imagine the amount of work for all parties that goes into this kind of discussion (i.e. financial or even legal aspect). It makes me rethink about my own work and company too, looking at how inspiring Koichi’s words always are – proposals, ideas, imagination.

In the meantime, I pray that the peaceful days can be back soon too! Stay safe and take care, everyone!

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