In 1902, Kyoto Engeki Kairyo Kai, literally “The Theatre Improvement Organization in Kyoto”, was established. The aim of this organization was to reform conventional theatrical forms in order to modernize them, placing special weight on improving dramatic scripts. Takayasu Gekko, who has been regarded as an old-fashioned playwright of Kabuki, took a key role, as a matter of fact, in this new movement.
However, the activities of Kyoto Engeki Kairyo Kai ended after giving only three public performances. Although the organization used to focus on the pieces of Gekko, his drama was not staged in the organization's last public performance in 1903, in spite of having been nominated initially.
In this paper, I re-examined the relationship between Gekko and the organization, especially focusing on the meaning of the third and last public performance, which has never been examined in detail until now. This investigation shall clear out the reason why the movement failed, as well as the real reason which disturbed modernization of Japanese theatre at that time. This is an attempt of reassessing the playwright Takayasu Gekko in the context of the theatre history in Japan.
The modernisation of the Japanese theatre began with translations and adaptations of Western plays, and there were a number of Irish plays translated and adapted in the Japanese theatrical scene. Ireland was trying to establish its own national theatre and had aspects similar to Japanese New Drama. In this paper, Shoyo Matsui's adaptational process is examined taking the example of Yuki no furu yo [Snowy Night].
Shoyo Matsui was one of the prominent reformers of the Japanese theatre and he produced a multitude of translations and adaptations as well as plays of his own creation during the foundational period of New Drama. His first travel to Europe was between 1906 and 1907 where he studied actual modern Western plays. After returning to Japan, he introduced a substantial array of theatrical reforms, ranging from performance skills to theatrical systems.
Yuki no furu yo [Snowy Night] premiered in March 1921. It is an adaptation of The Troth written by Rutherford Mayne, a Belfast playwright. The story inspired Matsui to write a Japanese version because as he said, “the original reminded me very much of tragedies which occurred in the North-East district where I was born”. Using Kabuki and Joruri motifs, the adaptation is converged into the dichotomy between “landlord and tenant farmers”and its dramatism is enhanced from the original.
Like Mayne, Matsui focused on the ordinary people and considered plays for the general public. Since he started his career as a Kabuki playwright, he was well aware of the power of classic dramas attracting the people, thus attempting to use their essence. Meanwhile, he defied conventional theatrical systems and tried to establish the New Drama comparable to Western theatre. Matsui’s reformation led to fierce opposition from conservative supporters of the theatre, though his methods subsequently took over this conventionalism.
Currently, a simultaneous audio commentary “Earphone-Guide” is provided in Kabuki performances through earphones to explain the synopsis, casting, costumes, tools, and Kabuki-specific conventions in a timely manner as the drama progresses. Officially introduced at the Kabuki-za Theater in November 1975, it was an epoch-making attempt in the history of theater, providing commentary for native speakers of Japanese. Since its introduction, it has been used by many spectators, but, while it occupies an important position in Kabuki, several pros and cons have been identified since its introduction, and even now, 45 years later.
Based on this situation, we will clarify the background and origin of the Earphone-Guide, describe what the Japanese commentary in Kabuki comprises, and examine the relationship between the audience and the commentary during the viewing experience by comparing it with the announcer of radio stage broadcasts. In recent years, research on the relationship between theater and new media has been progressing, both visually and audibly. By discussing the Earphone-Guide, I hope to help explore the possibilities of the use of “guide” in theaters in the future.
KAWAGUCHI Matsutarô's novel Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô (1934) gained popularity after it was adapted into a play and then into a film. This paper examined how the novel was received. In addition, it also clarified the fluid nature of Matsutarô's text by examining the problems of its adaptation and relationship to the Japanese performance art genre “geidômono.”
The main characters of Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô are the performers of the Shinnai musical performance art. Together with The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums that follows Kabuki actors, Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô has generally been considered the performance art genre's representative work. The performance art genre “geidômono” refers to the group of works that depict a world where performance holds a supreme value beyond any particular person. Undeniably, this work and the theatrical production of its predecessor The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums functioned as the impetus creating this genre. Nevertheless, this investigation has shown that while both of these works were treated as similar stories in their historical contexts, their structures greatly differ. Furthermore, Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô has been considered an adaptation of the long-time Hollywood film Bolero. Clearly, portions have commonalities with Bolero, for instance, the setting, but Tsuruhachi and Tsurujirô's structure and character models differ distinctly from Bolero.