CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A West Virginia High School on Wednesday was transformed into a Japanese performance hall as one of only three venues chosen for a performance of the internationally acclaimed Shizuoka Performing Arts Center troupe.
Huntington High School hosted Satoshi Miyagi’s Medea, a Greek tragedy with live musical accompaniment. The play incorporates Miyagi’s signature puppet theater-inspired style that uses two actors per role – one to speak and one to move. In this play, men provide the voice, while women provide the action.
The West Virginia event, co-sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education, Cabell County Schools and Marshall University, included two free performances for students and the general public. The only other cities chosen for performances were New York and Pittsburgh.
“We are fortunate in our state to have the West Virginia International School at Scott Teays Elementary in Putnam County,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “This facility has helped us nurture a growing relationship with Japan for the benefit of our residents and students. The Japanese performance troupe will help our relationship continue to flourish.”
West Virginia is home not only to the international school, but also to several Japanese-based companies, including Toyota. The international school, a tuition-based Saturday program dating back to 1997, was created as part of an incentives package designed to bring the Toyota plant and other international corporations to West Virginia. It helps prepare Japanese students for their successful re-entry to their homeland when they return to Japan.
In addition, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has long worked to foster relations between Japan and West Virginia. Those factors were considered in selecting West Virginia as a site for the Japanese performance group’s visit.
The cultural performance, which is being funded by Japanese Cultural Affairs, is an example of the type of arts performances that Marple believes will help student learning in the 21st century.
“I believe the arts – dance, theater, visual arts and music – are the soul of the school,” Marple said. “Years of research show that an education that includes the arts is closely linked to almost everything that we as a state and nation say we want for our children: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity.”
For more information, contact Mami Itamochi at the state Department of Education, at (304) 558-0200 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.
--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called “Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.