The house of man (Jinrui-kan, 1976) is a play written by an Okinawan author, CHINEN Seishin (1941-). The house of man is founded on historical facts of modern Okinawa; Osaka Exposition case (1903), a prohibition of using native Okinawan language (1879-), and the experience of ground war (1944-1945), etc. We find many tales and historical episodes in this play, there are even tragic. Additionally, the play is written in three kinds of languages; standard Japanese, Okinawan-Japanese called Uchina-Yamato-guchi that is spoken in modern Okinawa, and native Okinawan (Ryukyuan). It is sufficiently sensitive to Okinawa's dilemma.
This paper illustrates characteristics of the play, and points out its critical opinions on discrimination and resistless people of Okinawa. Although the play could be interpreted as a tragedy, it may contain a good deal of humor, and appeal to the readers (or audience) all the more on account of it. The House of Man has been partly revised two times. The first revised edition (1978) gave a vivid representation of Okinawa of the day. And the second (2003) describes its recognition of separation of politics and the people of Okinawa. Anyway, CHINEN laughs away Okinawa's fears, and raises a question about passive obedience of Okinawa.
KINOSHITA Junji seems to have become interested in Okinawa in 1960, fifteen years after the end of World War II, when he co-created the Sprechchor, Okinawa, for the first China tour of the Shingeki theatre troupe, “Nihon Shingeki Dan.” The work presents an Okinawan woman named NAMIHIRA Hide, who kills a former sergeant of the Japanese Army, YAMANO Takekichi, by cutting the rope he holds onto. She thus severs what Japan's past has been burdened with and she, as an Okinawan, throws herself to death from the cliff. Kinoshita completed the play in 1963 by confronting the issue of Okinawa within Mainland Japan without visiting Okinawa. What made him create a drama of alienation (à la Brecht) that was beyond his own theory of drama is firstly a kind of refracted double structure; he “looks at Okinawa through the eyes of Noboru JABANA, while being looked at by the same eyes in turn.” This was caused by Kinoshita's sympathy with the life of Jabana, one of the intelligentsia in the Meiji Era. And secondly, a realistic impact of dissolution of his theatre company, “Budo no Kai”. Accordingly, the alienation effect in this play is produced by placing “Okinawa” as the object of the drama.
Although a playwright and director OHTA Shogo (1939∼2007) had never been in Okinawa, he wrote three plays on Okinawa in his early days. They are Nine Scenes on the Bus (1969), The Breast of a Black Swallowtail (1970), and The Nocturne of Old Flowers (1974) remade from The Story of Flowers (1972). Why he could write them without visiting Okinawa? This paper will describe the point.
According to Ohta, three photoes inspired him to make those plays. It seems that “imaginary Okinawa” is more important for him than real one. The modern history of Okinawa was that of victims. After the Second World War, US Army had occupied Okinawa until 1972. It was just before its return to Japan that Ohta wrote these three plays. Actually, Ohta directed the plays in anti-realistic style. He knew well that only the Okinawans could write their own tragedy realistically. So he dared to use symbolic expressions. After that, his idea of the symbolism developed to his new original style; “Silent drama” in 80's, which was most aesthetic style in Japanese avant-garde theatre.
The film production began in the Taisho Era in Okinawa. At first the films were made for stage performances of Rensa-geki, a form of popular entertainment. It consists of a combination of film projection and performance. This type of film presents scenes which cannot be played on the stage. It was introduced into Okinawa from the main islands of Japan. Even after its declines in Japan, Okinawan film makers continued to create and produce their own Rensa-geki.
Gosamaru Seichu Roku (1934) was the first serious feature film in Okinawa, which was also used for the pieces of Rensa-geki. The film was revived in 1951 and was included in the first Rensa-geki after the Second World War. It had a great impact on the films in Okinawa. Under the occupation of the American army, Okinawan theatre companies produced their own films and Rensa-geki. These films included typical Okinawan forms of drama and bore some unique characteristics of such creators as KINJO Tetsuo and TAKAMINE Go. It was Takamine who introduced Rensa-geki into his film Mugen Ryukyu, Tsuru Henry (1999) in the form of a play within a play. Rensa-geki was brought to life in our era through Gosamaru Seichu Roku.
Many experimental theatre troupes, known as Angura (underground or avant-garde theatre), emerged in the middle of the 1960s, a theatrical movement that rapidly gained influence from 1966 to 1970. Today, Angura is regarded as an important movement in Japan, but research on it remains insufficient. What was the theatrical movement Angura?
Engeki Centre 68/71 is considered to be the most political theatre troupe of the Angura movement. The Dance of Angels Who Burn Their Own Wings was written by four playwrights of the Centre in 1970. This play deals with the French Revolution to express the Centre's idea of revolution. Angura is concerned simply with a counter culture or political movement; as most of Angura's artists participated in a campus activism and their plays were often radical. The characters in this play are unable to achieve a revolution. However, this failure of a revolution does not suggest the limit of Angura; rather, it prevents the revolution from falling into self-contradiction. Through analyzing the text, it could be said that The Dance of Angels Who Burn Their Own Wings represents the Centre's struggle to avoid getting into such a simple revolutionary movement.
Ohio Impromptu (1981) was written at the request of S. E. Gontarski for the world symposium held in order to celebrate Beckett's 75th birthday. Although Ohio Impromptu is a play, no conspicuous movements occur on the stage, except for a hand that knocks on a table and a hand that turns some pages. We are obliged to see only the static postures of the two protagonists, who are distinguishable only as a Listener and a Reader, and to hear the voice reading the book. In this play, two images overlap: one is the still, picture-like stage image, while the other is the image built up as the story is read.
I will investigate the hands, which are the most important performing part in the play, and the difference between the mirror-images and the images reflected in the water. Furthermore, I will also look into the “separation” that ultimately opens up the door through which we can get to the place where “nothing is left tell,” namely, borrowing Jacques Derrida's description, “pure absence.” In this play, the performing hands and the “absence” are strongly linked with the act of “writing” that is represented on the stage.