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Rutland’s Iron Guild Performance to be featured in popular Japanese show

Rutland hosted an unlikely group of Japanese celebrities and their film crew earlier this month. They came to film a segment of the Iron Guild's performances at Mac Steel in Rutland. The Japanese film crew is from the immensely popular extreme travel show that is seen by 15 million people every Sunday night across Japan. "Itte Q" has been on Japanese TV for about five years on the Nippon network (which is approximately equivalent to NBC in America.)

How did this come to be? The best guild members can guess, is that someone affiliated with the show stumbled across some footage of the Iron Guild performances at Mac Steel in Rutland and recognized the potential. The production team then contacted the Guild and flew a crew to Vermont film the melting iron and the dramatic performance art that has come to accompany the Guild's shows.

Matt Stone and a group of students at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston formed the Iron Guild in 2003. Stone was first exposed to the craft of cast iron during the summer he interned at the Carving Studio in West Rutland and worked with Rutland native Glenn Campbell. Stone then returned to Mass Arts and began building iron furnaces on campus with other students.

Campbell went down and became involved in Stone's student group and they soon began incorporating performance art into their iron pours on campus. Subsequent shows were at Rutland's Carving Studio, First Night celebrations and Mac Steel. Halloween shows have become a regular part of the fun as well. For the last several years, the Guild has performed on Halloween at the Scrap Yard in Providence, RI.

"At First Night we carved an ice Viking boat and then poured iron oars into the boat, it was really cool," Campbell recalled of an early show. "As the years go by we put more and more theater into the show. Instead of just throwing iron around, it is kind of like going to a play. We have scenes that are calculated."

Itte Q got a taste of what the Iron Guild does and the special properties of iron, safety procedures and what goes into planning a performance. Elizabeth Cantrell, a guild member, said they were a bit underwhelmed at first.

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"The film crew was pushing us to really show them and 'wow' them," she said. "We told them that none of it looks very exciting until you get the molten iron in a dark setting. There was a little bit of discouragement until Saturday night when we got both of the furnaces going. That night they were very excited and happy with the footage they were getting. It was very different for the Iron Guild because we are used to having total autonomy when it comes to creativity and timing. In this case the film crew and the director had really specific ideas about what they wanted to see and when. We had to focus more on the goals of the film crew than the goals of ourselves or a live audience." 

Itte Q will make you chuckle with its unique brand of over the top theatrics. The show is hosted by Tetsurō Degawa a comedian and representative of the so-called "reaction entertainers." His favorite phrase is "Yabaiyo, yabaiyo! or "It's dangerous, dangerous!" This is fitting for a show whose stars have taken the plunge in the icy waters of Iceland, visited an Indonesian water buffalo festival and eaten insanely hot peppers in Mexico.

At the Iron Guild, the host stood under a special umbrella while 200 pounds of molten iron rained down on him. As with any Iron Guild spectacle, sparks and fire that surpass any fireworks display were in abundance. Yabaiyo yabaiyo! indeed.

The silliness and the dramatic fiery mayhem that took place at the Iron Guild is expected to air on Itte Q next month.

Photo by Nathan Allen

Photo courtesy of the Iron Guild