At Home in the World
A cultural collaboration like no other
At Home in the World (Japanese title: Sekai ga wa ga ya) is a collaboration between Ashinaga, Vassar College, and internationally renowned director John Caird in support of Ashinaga’s efforts with orphaned and bereaved children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2014 and 2015, the unique amalgamation of dancing, singing, and drumming from Ashinaga’s Rainbow House in Uganda, taiko drumming by students from Rainbow Houses in Japan, and choral singing by students from Vassar College earned standing ovations from audiences in Japan and the United States.
Although its young performers grew up in contrasting cultures and environments, At Home in the World brings them together with a vision of overcoming life’s challenges, and the goal of creating a better future by eradicating social and educational inequality.
In 2016, At Home in the World brought this message to Uganda, where Ashinaga’s work first inspired the idea for the show.
The work of London-based director and writer John Caird spans plays, musicals, and operas. As a director, he is the winner of a Tony Award for Les Misérables, and both a Tony and an Olivier Award for the groundbreaking production of Nicholas Nickleby.
Ashinaga and Vassar College
Despite coming from different sides of the world, Ashinaga and Vassar College are united by the shared ideal of improving the lives of people everywhere through education. Ashinaga is the largest single provider of internships to Vassar College students, and the college has committed significant support to Ashinaga’s work in Africa.
They are collaborating with John Caird both to raise awareness of the needs of orphaned young people and to support Ashinaga’s efforts to raise funds for talented African students to attend university overseas through the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.
Perhaps more importantly, they are working together to produce At Home in the World, which offers talented young people from Uganda, Japan, and the United States the opportunity to transcend boundaries by articulating and sharing their experiences, artistry, and aspirations.
About the Performers
Tohoku Wa-Daiko Team
Under the direction of Mitsuaki Sato, the Tohoku Wa-Daiko Team brings together young people from Tohoku who lost a parent in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011. The drums these students use have been hewn out of the debris left behind by the disaster.
Ashinaga Uganda Terakoya
The Terakoya Kids come from Ashinaga Uganda Rainbow House, near Kampala. This center was set up to support orphaned students in the local community who are unable to go to school.
Vassar College Choir
Led by Christine Howlett, this choir represents some of the finest musical talent at Vassar College, the alma mater of Jean Webster, author of Daddy-Long-Legs from which Ashinaga derives its name.
Performed in Sendai (Tohoku University) and Tokyo (Shinjuku Bunka Center). His Imperial Highness, Prince Akishino, and Her Imperial Highness, Princess Mako, attended the Sendai performance.
2015: Japan and the United States
Performed in Sendai (Tohoku University), Tokyo (Nerima Bunka Center), Poughkeepsie in New York (Vassar College), New York (Jazz at Lincoln Center), and Washington D.C. (Warner Theater).
2016: Uganda and Kenya
Performed at Kampala (Ndere Cultural Centre), and a small performance at TICAD VI (Nairobi, Kenya).
A special feature of the Ashinaga Family Newspaper was made to commemorate the successful end to the three-year tour.
- Director: John Caird
- Producers: Ashinaga and Vassar College
- Writer: Lance Ringel
- Choreographer: Griffin Matthews
- Composer: Matt Gould
- Vassar Choir Director: Christine Howlett
- Tohoku Choir Director: Mitsuaki Sato
- Narrators: Mikiko Otonashi (Japan), April Yvette Thompson (US), Esther Nakamya (Uganda)