IPE Academy is one of Nagoya’s longest running privately owned Eikaiwa. It was founded and is still managed by Yoshiko Matsushima. IPE Academy, Yoshiko and Nagoya Players have been working hand in hand over the past two years to develop and execute NP 2019 season’s theme of Inclusivity & Accessibility. They’ve been a huge component of our family-focused strategy and were instrumental in helping us bring to stage Aesop’s Fables as well as our winter production of The Gift of the Magi. Yoshiko is a very busy woman and so we’re very grateful she took out some time to sit down for an interview to discuss her work in language instruction and community theater.
Please tell us about the type of work you do.
I own and run a language school in Imaike, IPE Academy, for English and Japanese learners. I believe it’s one of the oldest privately owned Eikawa in Nagoya now. We teach all levels from children to adult. Our school is unique because we offer Art+English and Music+English curriculum for Japanese children. I’m responsible for managing the school and I also teach Japanese. I love teaching! My students come from all over the world and it’s very rewarding to help them improve their Japanese and pass the JLPT.
How long have you been involved with community theater? How about Nagoya Players? Why did you get involved?
Over the past 20 years I’ve taught many Nagoya Players actors and members. There have been many new members recently, and some of them are taking classes at IPE now. Naturally, I started to attend their shows to support them. I was asked by Shawn Mahler, a former student, to help with the production of Anger. Since then, I’ve been actively involved and help get the shows ready for stage by doing a lot of the behind the scenes work.
I believe that learning English through theater can be very effective. Nagoya Players hasn’t always focused on language-education shows, but in 2019 with Aesop’s Fables we’ve made a concerted effort to strengthen our language-education component.
As a volunteer, you are asked to attend many different theater related functions, with your own career and business, how do you manage the time?
Well, it’s a lot of time after work and whenever I have a free moment. Many weekends are also dedicated to the group. It’s hard work, but we’re trying to achieve a larger goal. So, for the moment, I’m giving it my best shot.
What is your official role with Nagoya Players?
I’m Nagoya Players’ Production Manager. I take care of our bookings and organize events and shows. I also negotiate with venues and vendors to help keep the shows affordable. On the shows themselves, I’ve been a translator and I’m in charge of subtitles. Recently, I’ve been developing our Community Service section of the group. I want to create after school programs, especially for children in need, and teach them language through the performing arts. I’ve always enjoyed working with children and if we can build something for them through Nagoya Players that would be fantastic.
Have you considered being on stage or directing?
Not at all! I’m pretty busy at work and managing the school. I’m very passionate about Hula though, and have been dancing on stage for many years. I’d love to be a Hula instructor one day. But as for theater, I’ve never thought about acting or directing.
Where do you see community theater headed, specifically NP, in the next three to five years?
I see Nagoya Players doing more activities outside of theater production. I’d like us to grow and expand into areas like language-education and community service. Our most immediate goal is laying a strong foundation for the future. We need to grow our budget and find funding to help us develop into a fully-fledged theater group with outreach programs.
Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done! Nagoya Players couldn’t have achieved all our success this season without you!!
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Interview by: Allan Van Der