Japanese Society for Theatre Research was founded in October 1948, just after the end of the war. Shigetoshi Kawatake was the first president, and Kenji Shuzui the vice president. However, the organization of Society was already formed in prewar years, 1931. The constitution of the society manifested to establish theatre studies in Japan. In a newspaper it was said as follows: “the society for theatre research was formed in order to research academically theatre and theatrical phenomenon. The first committee members were Ryozo Niizeki, Toyoichiro Nogami, Shigetoshi Kawatake, Seiichi Funahashi, Tatsuyuki Takano, Tomoichiro Iizuka, Kenji Shuzui and Hisao Tanabe. And the Society projected to publish its academic journal.” Since I had served six years in the president, I would like to describe the early days of the Society rethinking theatre studies in Japan and my personal history as well. It would contribute to this special issue.
The recent, so-called post-classical narratology is more concerned with narrative in the communication form, in the feedback loop or in everyday life than with literary narrative. However, narratology of theatre has not been paid much attention in any case, although a play mostly contains a story, which can be narrated. A reason, if not the reason, for the relative neglect of theatre narratology might be the insistence of classical narratologists that no narrator of a story would exit in a play, because it should consist only of dialogues.
This article is a preliminary attempt of theatre narratology, mainly focusing on the changing aspect of the story in the process from a written play to a performance. It also involves the problem of translation and adaptation of a play into a different language or medium.
The works of Komparu Zenchiku, who was Zeami's son-in-law and lived around the middle of the 15th century, have been often considered complicated, because the themes are unclear and the representation of characters is vague. However, this general understanding, further intensified by his profound theory of Nohgaku, is doubtful. In order to reevaluate Zenchiku's works, this paper will examine approximately twenty works of Zenchiku from four perspectives: ‘effect,’ ‘background,’ ‘theme,’ and ‘taste.’ This approach will contribute to analyzing other Noh plays. Through this analysis, the influence of Zenchiku on Zeami will be demonstrated.
Since the “qualitative revolution”, qualitative approaches have been growing in cultural and social sciences. They have now taken a performative turn, caused in great part by the “politics of discourse” or the “politics of interpretation.” It means drama/theatre education research has changed. The International Drama in Education Research Institute (IDIERI) is attempting to bring the heritage of drama/theatre education into performative qualitative research. It promotes the crossover of research, education and art making.
Here, several research methodologies in drama/theatre education are examined individually, such as ethnography, performance ethnography, case studies, historical research, action research, experimental research, reflective practitioner case study, as well as arts-based and arts-informed enquiry, narrative enquiry and mix and meta methods.
Finally, methodological issues in drama/theatre education research within Japan are considered. Drama/theatre education is predicted to shift its focus of inquiry through praxis. Theoretical models will be constructed, contributing to arts and advocate praxis itself. Academic communities of drama/theatre education need to be more flexible so as to accept these various styles of presentation, including workshops and performance. The future of drama/theatre education research is explored by making performative connections between research, societies and people through research collaboration, practitioners and artists in academic communities.
The purpose of this project is to explore the possibility of (1) an alternative expression of Hijikata Tatsumi's Butoh concept and (2) an expansion of the virtual auditorium with reference to a “live” theatrical quality.
Hijikata moved from destructive and brutal-body expression in the 1960s to the enfeebled and quiet expression of disease and aging in the 1970s, and then finally to suijyakutai ‘corpus moriens’: the concept that the dancer perceives in his mind's eye his own slowly dying and decaying body. The idea might have been partly inspired by the sokushinbutsu (self-mummifying Buddhist monks) in Shonai area of Yamagata Prefecture in northeastern part of Japan. The project was produced at the Tsuruoka Town Campus of Keio in Shonai from 31 August to 3 September 2008. It aimed at objectifying Hijikata's concept of suijakutai by dripping water on a life-size earthen statue of himself for four days, by which time the statue had almost completely deteriorated. The process was transmitted in HD quality through the web site, so that people outside of the performance site could have the nearly same experience in real time. Thus, the practice is successful in presenting not only an untried topic of theatrical research but also a distinct theatrical means of representation and transmission.
My major is the research of dramaturgy of Japanese modern play. Dramaturgy means technique, to me. Concretely, it is based on the structure of “Tragedy” that Aristotle extracted from “Oedipus”. Analyzing the each play, we learned how different it is from Tragedy, because the Drama was never established in Japan.
I hope the piling up will become the history of Japanese modern play in future. Because, we have history of the companies alone, we do not have of the play itself yet.
The research of conversation is also urgent. Since mid-1990's, “Contemporary Conversation Play” came out in Japan. It is evaluated high as quite new occur. Kishida Kunio is the first playwright who said about conversation of play in 1920's. He said that daily life should be written by usual conversation. Contemporary Conversation Play also must be placed in this history.
I have engaged myself in theatre education and theatre research, teaching students theatre practice and theory at university, while at other times occupying myself in theatre activities as director, actor, and so on. For Japan to be Japan, a book by Junji Kinoshita, gave me a starting point for theatre research. This book taught me significantly about the concept of play and its structure, and that of theatre and its structure. Kinoshita's view of catharsis is especially intriguing for me, pointing out the issue of “qualitative conversion of values” and, at the same time, stating that theatre, therefore, inherently and independently, has substance to “change” an audience.
Nonetheless, a kind of self-contradiction occurred to me. It would be generally typical to verify by means of practice what one has pursued in theory, or, conversely, to base one's practice on theory. Although I meant to think of theatre research through theatre practice, as a matter of fact, I did not do so. I have never “staged” a Kinoshita play. Furthermore, I have directed quite a number of plays by Bertolt Brecht; however, I have never written a “paper” of Brecht studies. There would be some reasons, and it seems certain that there lies some contradiction of sorts.
This paper reflects on theatre research from two perspectives, with a mind to future theatre research and joint research.
KUME Kunitake (1839-1931), a Japanese historian, published an official report of the delegation led by the Foreign Minister Iwakura to the USA and Europe from 1871 to 1873. After his return he worked with Iwakura to restore traditional Noh and Kyogen. In 1906 he wrote “Kabu Shourei Wa Sengo No Kyumu”, claiming that the first thing we [Japanese] must do after the Russo-Japanese War was to promote a flourishing music and dance culture.
This paper focuses on historic aspects of Kume's essay. He put a unique aesthetic interpretation to the representation of Noh actors' performance, comparing it to the expressions of European sculptures. He innovatively suggested that the public should enjoy Noh plays not only as ‘listening’ drama but also as ‘visual’ art. It appears that this idea was developed under the influence of his son, KUME Keiichiro (1866-1934), who was a Western-style painter. The essay also argues that it is important to show the cultural level of Japanese people to other countries and for the educated classes to enjoy Noh and Kyogen as a demonstration of excellent taste. Noh and Kyogen have both visual and sound elements that are essential to the complete appreciation of this performance art.
This paper questions an inclination, in recent years, towards scientific rather than literary papers in the field of Modern Japanese Theatre (MJT). This may be attributable to the nature of the research: in scientific research the outcome is most important and the process is the path to reach it. In addition, more grants are given for and more money is spent on scientific research. Therefore more scientific papers are presented.
I have questioned whether or not research on MJT is valuable. The purpose of research in this field is not to discover something completely unknown, but to re-examine MJT history with a fresh viewpoint. This paper adopts a positive perspective on the value of research in MJT. It is regrettable that neither the art nor the richness of writing is to be found in many of the recent research papers about MJT: many are factual and plain like those in the sciences.
Works on MJT by scholars from other fields are also discussed critically. Non-specialists of MJT seem to jump at common knowledge and approach the subject by using the research methods of their own fields. This may be because MJT has comparatively smaller research resources and fewer well-known scholars.
Erwin Toku Baelz (1889-1945), the eldest son of Erwin Baelz, the man who contributed to the development of modern medicine in Japan, adapted and directed the fifth and sixth acts of a kabuki play Kanadehon Chushingura, and staged a German kabuki play named Death of Kampei (German title: Sampei's Sühnenopfer) in Berlin in 1938, enacted by the students of a drama school affiliated to Deutsches Theater. Although the performance was staged by German actors in German, the script was mainly based on joruri, a Japanese dramatic narrative; furthermore, other elements such as narrations, the way the actors delivered their lines, the acting, costumes, stage props and stage equipment were made close to those of genuine kabuki. It is considered that this was the first such trial in Europe before World War II. This paper describes the background to the performance of the German kabuki, the performance on the stage, the public response and critics, mainly based on primary sources, obtained from the Federal Archives in Koblenz.
This paper discusses the creation and performances of Utayomizaru (The Monkey Poet) a folktale drama by Budoza Theatrical Company. It was written by KAWAMURA Mitsuo, who founded Budoza in Yuda Town, Iwate prefecture, in 1950, and first performed in 1981. Utayomizaru was based on Saru no Yomekko (The Monkey Groom), and old local folktale from the Yuda area.
Kawamura adapted the original folktale, The Monkey Groom, a celebration of traditional community into The Monkey Poet, a drama that satirizes the collapse of modern day community. However, over time the original intent of the drama has been weakened as it was adapted into various formats such as musical plays and interpreted into other languages.
This paper focuses on the original intent of Utayomizaru, which used traditional styles of Yuda storytelling and old style Japanese theatre, Kagura. Utayomizaru is unique because it portrays a modern day story through combining traditional folklore performances and KINOSHITA Junji's post war nostalgic styles.