This essay discusses the performances of Hamlet by the Japanese director, NINAGAWA Yukio. Ninagawa has directed this tragedy six times, and among his Shakespearean productions, Hamlet is his most frequent. Each production was a turning point in his history as a director. Now he is 73 years old, and through his own experiences he has changed the theme and direction on Hamlet. However, his direction in 2003 was most significant.
At first this essay will briefly review the history of Ninagawa's five Hamlets and reexamine each performance. Then the 2003 Hamlet, which is the newest direction and most controversial performance among Ninagawa's Hamlet, will be investigated associating the direction with the text and the criticisms. From the view point of thanatology, this essay will discuss the depictions of Hamlet and Fortinbras. Thirdly, Ninagawa's consideration about his own age and senescence will be presented and its association with his direction will be pointed out. Finally, this essay will make clear his present state in his own career as a director.
The theatrical company Bluebird is an all-female troupe that was the first in the history of the alternative theatre in Japan. “Ichidō Rei,” which literally means “Everyone, bow!” is not a personal name but the collective name for all the women in the troupe, who share the functions of playwright, director, and actress in their productions. Their creation method is very unusual. They start their works by brainstorming. “What interests you most now?” “How happy do you want to make the play?” “What do you want to do on the stage?” “What scenes do you have in mind?” Once these general matters are decided, discussion moves to the theme and plot of the play. Dialogue-making comes last and is the product of improvisation. I verified this in Itsuka mita Natsu no Omoide (Memories of a Summer Long Past, 1986), which was actually composed with this “Bluebird Method.” I conclude that this play is one of the best expressions of the main theatrical characteristic of the 1980s, when “(child's) play” was the centerpiece of plays.
Nowadays we rarely meet excellent Geidan, “talking on performing arts,” which we used to have in abundance the old days. Most Geidan talking consists of vivid memories of sensual aspects of stage performances by actors, stage staffs and theatre-goers. In the present paper I point out some reasons why Geidan has been disappearing since. One of the reasons must be the recent tendency of critics to seek the essential, not sensual aspects of theatrical performances. This tendency is drying up, instead of enriching, the theatre criticism and, consequently, theatre appreciation.