Comparative Theatre Review
Online ISSN : 2186-5094
Print ISSN : 1347-2720
The Multi-layered Story and the View of Eschatology in Hideki Noda’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
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Volume 16 (2016) Issue 1 Pages 1-16

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This paper aimed to explain the transition of Hideki Noda’s style through the analysis of Hideki Noda’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1992, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Noda has been an active playwright, director, and actor from the 1980s. Previous studies have indicated that Noda changed his style when he dissolved his theatre company, Yume no Yuminsha. Hideki Noda’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was produced three months before the dissolution of the company. Noda reconstructed the Shakespearean original, altering it in two major aspects. First, Noda’s version was set in Japan. Second, Mephistopheles, the demon of Goethe’s Faust, made an appearance in the play. Mephistopheles contributed catastrophic aspects to the play, creating an episode out of the original story composed of the stolen words from the characters who had dissatisfaction in their minds. Due to the destructive power of the episode by Mephistopheles, the forest where fairies live, fell into crisis. To avoid the crisis, Soboro, originally Helena, created the new episode of reviving the forest, incorporating the catastrophic episode as a part of it. As the episodes were integrated into an inclusive story, the order of the forest was regained. The multiple episodes and their competitive relationship were the subjects of the play. Because the competitive relationship between the episodes inside the story was put in the foreground, this multi-layered structure may be called metafiction. The reason for creating this adaptation can be inferred from the fashion of occultism of the 1970s, particularly the prophecies of Nostradamus that predicted the end of the world in 1999. In this paper, I interpreted the production as an opposition to the eschatological atmosphere at the time. In examining the transition of Noda as a playwright, the metafictional structure is remarkable. During the 1980s, Noda’s works comprised bold images. In these plays, the images are not intended to be integrated at one point. On the contrary, after the dissolution of his theatre company, many of Noda’s works set clear themes, such as national borders and the Emperor. Hideki Noda’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was unique in the feature that the multiple episodes were integrated by the metafictional structure of the play and such a structure itself was set in the theme of this play. In this respect, it is possible to understand a part of Noda’s tradition trying to construct a story integrated into one point as well as the criticism of contemporaries.

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© 2016 Japanese Society for Theatre Research. Comparative Theatre Section
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