Diary of a socially distanced director: how I staged a play in Tokyo – from London

When Lindsay Posner was asked to direct a production of Twelve Angry Men from his home in the UK, with a Japanese cast in Tokyo, he took a giant leap into the unknown

Reginald Rose’s drama Twelve Angry Men is an American theatre classic that has proved popular with audiences in Japan, where trial by jury was reintroduced in Japan in 2009 for the first time since 1943. Before the pandemic hit, I signed up to direct the play at the Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon, Tokyo, with rehearsals due to begin this summer. Towards the end of July, Tokyo’s theatres reopened for socially distanced audiences. But with no easing of travel restrictions, I was asked if I would be willing to direct the play by Zoom instead of in person, opening the show in Tokyo from my home in west London. Faced with an indefinite postponement and intrigued by the prospect of a novel way of directing, I agreed – and kept a diary of rehearsals.

Twelve Angry Men is at Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon, Tokyo, until 4 October.

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