A photo set-up by photographer Simon Richardson of Riko Nakazono, who will be joining me for the autumn tour of THE MISTAKE, through September and October. Heading off to Dartington, Chester, Caernarfon, Aberystwyth, Wickenby (Lincs.), Lancaster, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cardiff, Banbury, Walton-on-Thames, Chichester, Bristol, Hull, Cambridge, Brighton, Doncaster, Pontefract, York, Bewdley (W. Midlands), MAC Birmingham, Northampton, Buxton, Diss, Aldeburgh, Bury St. Edmunds, Canterbury and one or two other places tbc. Phew! Quite a tour to many and various corners of England and Wales. You can find the dates, schedule and booking links here… https://michaelmears.org/dates-for-your-diary/ And we’d be so grateful if you can put the word out to any family or friends you have in or near any of the places we’re visiting. Thank you!
These three very special women have been and are part of the journey of THE MISTAKE from page to stage to tour and more – and all three were at the Arcola Theatre recently on the same night for a performance of the play. You-Ri Yamanaka, on the left, was a part of early workshopping of the play, took part in the film collage we made from the play in 2020, and then came to Edinburgh with me in November 2021 to give a first public reading of the play. Emiko Ishii, in the middle, performed in the first full production of the play last year at the Edinburgh Fringe and this year at the Arcola. And Riko Nakazono, on the right, will be performing in the play on its 2023 autumn tour to 28 venues around the UK, from Aberystwyth in west Wales to Aldeburgh on the east coast, from Brighton on the south coast to Lancaster in the north! It has been a privilege for me to meet and work and get to know these three very talented performers and I hope they will all continue in some way to be a part of THE MISTAKE in its future life. ‘Arigatou gozaimasu’ to them all!
Hackney Peace Carnival Mural
The photo shows a small detail from the wonderful Hackney Peace Carnival Mural, just round the corner from the Arcola Theatre – where we will perform THE MISTAKE from April 18-22, at 7pm each evening, with a matinee on the 22nd at 3pm.
‘THE MISTAKE covers very difficult subject matter in a way that really engages the imagination and emotions and all with such intelligence’ (Audience feedback)
‘A powerful examination of humanity in the wake of Hiroshima ★★★★’ (The List)
‘The play is fast paced and yet detailed, lyrical when it needs to be, complex at other times. It jumps place, time and characters seamlessly and is truly, all round, an exceptionally high-quality piece of writing. All of that could be overlooked though if not in the hands of two expert actors. Luckily Mears himself, alongside Emiko Ishii prove just that – experts at their craft. Ishii is haunting as she recalls the diary entries left by Nomura Shigeko that give us deeply personal insight into the Hiroshima atrocities.’ (review from Theatre Travels. Org at the Edinburgh Fringe).
Go to https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/ to book for The Mistake – or book for both The Mistake and WORTH (running in the main house there, from our friends New EarthTheatre) and get a discounted deal – use the code WORTHMISTAKE. Thank you!
I know it’s a cliche – but it’s true…
‘BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND.’ Our production of my play THE MISTAKE, about Hiroshima and the first atomic bomb, is returning to the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, London, E8 3DL for one more week – April 18th – 22nd.
Performances are now at the earlier time of 7pm, (curtain down at 8.20pm approx.) with a Saturday matinee on the 22nd April at 3pm.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s your chance…
If you have already seen it, thank you. But please feel free to see it again! Or at any rate, feel free to phone a friend, mail a mate, or nudge a neighbour to get along and see it – we’d be hugely grateful!
Emiko Ishii will still be with me, giving her heart-stopping portrayal of atomic bomb survivor Shigeko…
And here are just a few of the audience feedback comments from the other week…
‘I will never forget this play. Absolutely brilliant and so powerful.’ ‘A completely engrossing, moving and important play.’ ‘Thought-provoking, moving, overwhelming.’ ‘Exceeded all expectations. Absolutely riveting.’ ‘Brilliant performance. It has made me urgently need to know ever more about these events. Loved the use of props, especially the airplane scene.’
Thank you, as ever, for your support.
THE MISTAKE in London, Jan. 31st to Feb. 4th 2023
As followers of my website will know, I finally premiered my Covid-delayed new play THE MISTAKE, about Hiroshima and the first atomic bomb, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. Now, in the new year, we are going to be performing it in London for a short run.
From Tues. Jan. 31st to Sat. Feb. 4th, Emiko Ishii and I will perform THE MISTAKE, directed by Ros Hutt, at the ARCOLA THEATRE, Dalston. 24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL. 8pm each evening. There will be a matinee performance as well on Sat. 4th, at 4pm and a Q and A on Thursday 2nd Feb. after the performance. (With Kate Hudson, CND chair, taking part.)
If you’re stuck for present ideas…why not treat friends or family to a ticket? Maybe not ‘the perfect Christmas pressie’, but certainly a stimulating, thought-provoking evening in the theatre…
★★★★ ‘The past comes alive – a gripping piece of storytelling’ (THE TIMES)
Tickets went on sale today here…
Thank you as ever for your support and for spreading the word where you can…
Just to remind you, here is a brief description of the play…
1942. On an abandoned squash court, a dazzling scientific experiment takes place that three years later will destroy a city and change the world forever. Two actors, one British, one Japanese, explore the events surrounding the catastrophic ‘mistake’ that launched our nuclear age.
Interweaving the stories of a young woman in war-time Hiroshima, a brilliant Hungarian scientist, and the American pilot who flew the plane that dropped the bomb, THE MISTAKE is a powerful drama that confronts the dangers that arise when humans dare to unlock the awesome power of nature.
THE MISTAKE…planned tour in Autumn 2023 (and beyond)
An urgent new play about Hiroshima and the first atomic bomb.
The dropping of the first atomic bomb is referred to on the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima as “the mistake”. Michael Mears’ compelling and profoundly moving new play, directed by Rosamunde Hutt, explores personal stories surrounding that catastrophic event.
★★★★ ‘The past comes alive – a gripping piece of storytelling’ (THE TIMES)
★★★★★ ‘I was genuinely blown away by this production. It received one of the very few standing ovations I have seen at the Edinburgh. (UK THEATRE WEB)
★★★★ ‘A powerful examination of humanity in the wake of Hiroshima.’ (THE LIST)
★★★★ ‘An evocative, well-researched and urgently fascinating story.’ (SCOTSMAN)
We are looking to perform THE MISTAKE in theatre venues and studio-type spaces – but can also consider non-theatre venues where space permits. A minimum performing area of approximately 5m x 3m would be required.
Currently we have pencilled bookings or strong expressions of interest from venues in: Salisbury, Canterbury, Walton-on-Thames, Northampton, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bewdley, Diss, York, Hull, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Caernarfon and Peebles.
We want the play to move and enlighten audiences and to encourage them to think deeply about the questions raised. The response from people to the play’s opening run in Edinburgh 2022 confirmed this. For example:
‘An important story told beautifully. We were gripped, moved and enlightened.’ Elaine Russell.
‘Even though I already knew a bit about the Hiroshima bombing, I learned a great deal more from the play. It is not only enlightening but also deeply moving.’ Mary LaFrance.
‘Superbly acted by two immensely talented actors about an historical but totally topical event. It brought tears to my eyes – a ‘must see’ play where the use of limited props is ingenious.’ Chris Elliott.
The play is suitable for audiences of 15+ years. It will appeal to anyone interested in history, politics, science, ethics, morality and peace studies. We also want to perform to school and college students wherever possible.
FOR MORE INFO PLEASE CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org michaelmears.org
WINNER – of a CAROL TAMBOR INCENTIVE AWARD – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2022
WINNER – of a SPIRIT OF THE FRINGE AWARD – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2022
SHORTLISTED – for the SIT-UP AWARDS for plays making a social impact – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2022
LONGLISTED – for the BBC WRITERS’ ROOM Popcorn Awards for new writing EDINBURGH FRINGE 2022
Choosing the right moment to hand out flyers – experiences from the Edinburgh Fringe 2022
And so, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022 has come to an end. I’m back home in my London flat, nursing a heavy head cold which broke hours after our final performance last Saturday. Talk about good timing!
The name of our theatre space in Edinburgh was the Argyll Theatre, a rather grand sounding name for a small 50 seat venue, converted from a conference room on the first floor of the Hilton Hotel. Doing a play about Hiroshima in the Hilton Hotel struck us as a little odd. But perhaps some rich Americans would pop in and take a look at the play and rethink their attitudes to nuclear weapons?
We were performing at 10.45am each morning, a little earlier than I might have preferred, and a bit of a shock to the system, but it worked in our favour. Our audience demographic was a little older and those people were up and about in Edinburgh and in the mood for some mid-morning serious drama. We were also blessed with a fab technical team, and three excellent operators of the sound and lighting cues for our shows, Isaac, Adam and Emma. They all want to come on the world tour with us – should such a thing ever happen!
Emiko and I had just one day off but we got into the rhythm of doing our demanding work in the morning then recovering, chilling and heading off to see other shows in the afternoon and early evening. I was in bed by 10pm pretty much each night, then up again at 6.15am in order to wake up my body and brain in time for the play…
The word of mouth about the play was excellent and my having chosen a small 50 seat venue, it did mean that it was often quite full and in the final week often sold out…
The responses from audiences were heart-warming. They seemed so engaged with the material, moved by it, challenged by it, wanting to talk to us as soon as we’d finished the play. We tried to do this while striking our set and clearing our props as the next play in the space was due in ten minutes later! A fast turnaround – that’s the Fringe for you.
One man, Larry, told me that he’d found the play very healing, helping him to resolve issues within his family – where his father had always believed the atom bomb was necessary to end the war, whereas Larry had passionately disagreed.
Another man told me that his father had been a ‘back-room boy’ on the Manhattan Project – there were many of those – and that his father had in fact been at the very first atom bomb test on July 16th 1945 – which we reference in the play. I was lost for words when he told me this.
Then after the final performance, a Japanese family came up to me, saying that their son, who was there with them, was one of the singers in the recordings we use in the play of Japanese children! The boy attends the Japanese School in London – where I had made a contact earlier this year with a teacher, who very generously organised a number of students to sing and record children’s songs in Japanese and English to be used at key points in the play – songs which are terribly affecting. It was the family’s first visit to Edinburgh and we were the first play they went to. What’s more, they told me that the boy’s grandfather was a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb, and that at the age of 94 he was still alive and active, now living in Tokyo. The boy’s father told me that the grandfather never cursed or blamed the Americans for what had happened.
I found it very humbling to hear these testimonies.
Edinburgh in August is like a huge mad carnival of street theatre and performers, stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, vast crowds, alongside the constant dishing out of flyers for shows left, right and centre, and on this occasion, in the last two weeks of the Festival, overflowing bins due to the strikes in Scotland. It did turn this beautiful city into something of an eyesore…I hope the Japanese family weren’t too shocked by this.
Flyering – hmm, I felt that I was really getting a bit too old to be doing this but I gritted my teeth and had some very good conversations with people, a number of whom did then come and see the play, which was gratifying.
The most outrageous example of flyering that I was subjected to myself – seconds after we had finished our performance one day, and the applause had only just stopped, a lady stepped forward and accosted me saying that ‘Our show has just the same set as yours! We too have a blackboard! Exactly the same! Here’s a flyer! Will you come and see it?’ she said, with a bright smile. ‘It’s about suicide.’
‘Erm, would you mind waiting till we come out front in about ten minutes and you can tell me about it then – right now we have to clear our set away…’
‘Just like our set, exactly the same as ours!’ she went off muttering to herself.
There is an appropriate time and place to flyer – but that was not it.
By the time I got out into the foyer, she had gone though…
After the final performance last Saturday, Emiko and I celebrated with tea and cake in Clarinda’s traditional Tearooms. I was delighted to learn that she loved tearooms as much as I do!
In conclusion, we had a ‘good fringe’ – a very good Fringe, all things considered. Still not remotely a profit-making venture, but I didn’t lose as much as anticipated.
We received some very good reviews, five stars and four stars, won a Carol Tambor Incentive Award, were short-listed for the Sit-Up Awards – for plays that strive to have a social impact on their audiences. And THE MISTAKE was long-listed for the BBC Writers’ Room ‘Popcorn Awards’ for New Writing at the Fringe. (Can’t recall when I last saw anyone eating popcorn in a theatre…)
Finally, and most fun perhaps, Fringe stalwart Mervyn Stutter, who for 29 years now has had his show Pick of The Fringe running each day throughout the Festival, gave us a Spirit of the Fringe Award – still presented in a clip-frame as it has been these last 29 years. Mervyn felt that if anyone exemplified the ‘spirit of the Fringe’ then I did – what with doing all the writing, admin, venue-hiring, laundry-supervising, etc etc, you name it!
But many thanks again are due to all those who have supported this venture through crowd-funding etc. I felt that it was an investment worth making to bring this important material to life and to get THE MISTAKE up and running ready for a tour next year hopefully.
A tour of the UK – and yes, who knows, maybe a world tour? One can but dream…
Heading north to Edinburgh…
Feedback from one of our preview audience members last week in London (July 28th)
H.M. at Portfolio Publishing… ”The Mistake left me absolutely lost for words, so I am incredibly grateful that you found the words to express the impact of the Hiroshima bombing and its reverberations in the decades since that atrocity. With only two actors and minimal props, I was transported across time and space, across countries and continents, with deep insights into the mindsets and actions of a large group of distinct and believable characters. I learned a huge amount, felt a massive emotional punch, and applaud both the theatrical achievement and the key role The Mistake must play in campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons and an end to the arms trade madness. Thank you.”
So yes, tomorrow, Tuesday 2nd August, we head to Edinburgh and the Fringe Festival for a three week run of the play – a play which we believe is important and highly relevant given the current state of affairs in the world…
Our first performance is on Friday August 5th… if you know of anyone who lives in Edinburgh or nearby or who is visiting, please send them in our direction – thank you!
Follow this link for Edinburgh tickets: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mistake
For LONDON PREVIEWS on July 27th and 28th at 7.30pm – follow the link below…
Another passionate campaigner for peace has left us
I was truly saddened to hear of the passing of the great and inspirational Bruce Kent, aged 92, active campaigner for peace and against the madness of nuclear weapons. https://www.theguardian.com/…/jun/09/bruce-kent-obituary
On a personal level, I first met Bruce six years ago when he kindly agreed to introduce an event I’d setup in memory of Britain’s WW1 conscientious objectors. He was very encouraging to me and came to see the subsequent play that came out of that event, THIS EVIL THING, at least three or four times. After one of those performances he insisted on helping me with the get-out! Despite my protestations he started lugging my wooden crates to the van, saying ‘You’ve worked hard enough already this evening.’ He was 88 at the time. When I last saw him a month ago, at a tribute event for Bertrand Russell’s 150th birthday, he said he was keenly looking forward to seeing my new play about Hiroshima, THE MISTAKE – adding wryly, ‘I’ve made too many of my own in my time.’ My sympathies to his family and heartfelt thanks for all he did. You will be greatly missed, Bruce, but trust us – we will endeavour to carry on your work in your absence. RIP.