Besides the sports teams, students had to join a cultural club, which was not taken as seriously as the sports program and was only active before the cultural festival in the autumn.
Izumi, Kei, and I joined the theatre club. It was the only place we could be creative, be free to express our imagination. Another positive thing was that there were no girls from the 3rd grade and just a few, non-threatening girls from the 2nd grade. Other girls joined the chorus or sewing club or some such.
One of the girls from the 2nd grade, Saori, didn’t believe in the legitimacy of the girls’ rules. She treated us as equals and expected us to reciprocate the attitude. She was smart, but because of her liberal belief system and independent nature, she was often seen as an outcast.
She confided with me that she liked the president of the theatre club. He was in the 3rd grade, a goalkeeper on the soccer team and a long-distance runner, smart, tall, and kind. He was so mature that he never treated girls as lowly yet desirable creatures like most junior high school boys. I wasn’t surprised Saori liked him. There was no one else she would have liked.
In our 1st year with the theatre club, we did a comedy version of Cinderella. I wrote the screenplay. Cinderella was played by a boy. In a way, gender-swapping was humorous, but it was also my attempt to break the gender role myth in the most gender-stereotyped fairy tale.
Izumi, Kei, and I didn’t take the acting role but designed costumes and stage settings. The play received great laughter and was a success. Three of us were proud of our accomplishments and enjoyed the process of creating a play.