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Barbican Theatre Celebrates a Resounding Success at the First Plymouth Undokai 


Barbican Theatre Celebrates a Resounding Success at the First Plymouth Undokai 

UK and European Premiere of the Future Undokai Project brings the local community together.

Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre is celebrating the success of the unique Japanese cultural phenomenon of Undokai, which was staged at the end of November and saw over 500 local family members, sports enthusiasts and university academics participate in the UK and European Premiere of the Future Undokai Project. 

Laura Kriefman, Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth:

“It was so wonderful to take this high-energy, inclusive and fun interactive game that can be played by any sized group to another event. Especially as it had been invented by two local families- who really got into the Spirit of the Future Undokai. We were so pleased to get to work extensively across so many different local communities – from youth centres to the Japanese team spending a day at St Matthew’s Academy Primary School. We had families participating from across the home school networks, University students and academics from all three universities.” 

The initiative not only brought together the community but also connected Plymouth to Japan 150 years ago, and renewed that link today, creating a joint future with the new Plymouth Undokai games showcasing Plymouth’s expertise across the Navy, sporting excellence, technology and industry. 

Produced by the Barbican, in partnership with The Future Undokai Project and the Undokai Association, Plymouth Undokai took place at Plymouth Life Centre between November 18 and 26, with two weekends of games and a conference at the University of Plymouth.

During the course of the events, 12 new games were invented by 70 people from across Plymouth as part of a fun-filled community project that engaged people from 5-75 years old.  Over 60 games were played and the teams involved supported 13 events in 14 days. Participants commented on how they found that “Playful community events are brilliant” and the benefits they felt the opportunity offered to the whole community in Plymouth.

One of the games – Smeaton’s Shake – has already been played at a second event for Digital Plymouth.

Abbie Gardiner, a member of one of the families who created the popular game:

“We felt so fortunate to be involved in an experience that opened up an entirely new world and new people to us. To take part in something alongside other people who brought positivity, joy, warmth, an open mindset and a great sense of fun to learning about something new was such a unique opportunity and something I wish we could find more of in our local communities.

“For F, who is often reserved and avoids risk-taking, in social situations especially, it was evident how successfully you all built an environment where it felt safe to put himself out there!” 

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