One Thousand Paper Cranes
Bringing the magic of origami to the stage
An actor preparing for a role has to do many things, but learning origami isn’t usually one of them. Alongside the usual checklist of remembering lines and researching characters, however, the performers in One Thousand Paper Cranes also had to turn their hand to the traditional Japanese art of paper folding.
Inspired by the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old Japanese girl who developed leukaemia following the 1945 Hiroshima bombing, the show is about staying hopeful against the odds. When Sadako’s best friend tells her about an ancient Japanese saying that anybody who folds 1000 cranes will be granted a wish, she endeavours to do just that – but dies before the task can be completed.
With origami paper in short supply, Sadako was forced to use everything from gift wrap to doctor’s notes to make her cranes. Director Lu Kemp echoes in the show, with cranes fashioned from envelopes, political manifestoes and all manner of diverse materials. ‘We start with nothing on stage,’ explains Kemp. ‘Just a box, with another box inside it and so on – which gives the idea of unwrapping stories. Then, by the end, there are masses of cranes onstage, some pre-made, others created by the performers during the show.’
Despite the tragic subject matter, Kemp is keen to point out that the show is actually vibrant and optimistic. ‘It’s a story about friendship,’ she says. ‘And although the challenge doesn’t save Sadako, it does give her something to live for. The script is funny and quirky, and focuses on how friendship can make an impossible situation positive and full of life. It also shows how the girls’ endeavour brought a sense of hope back to an entire community.’
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 13–Sat 17 Oct