enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館

Online Exhibition

Making of Minoru Betsuyaku: From His Unpublished First Play to the Soyosoyo Tribe

Purpose of the Exhibition

Minoru Betsuyaku was well acquainted with the creation of paintings, poetry, and novels from an early age, and encountered theatre when he enrolled at Waseda University. He gave the world more than 140 plays as a ‘professional artist’. The final work that the prolific Betsuyaku took on was a sequel to a great historical novel about a family with aphasia, titled Dowa: Soyosoyo-zoku Densetsu (children’s story: legend of the Soyosoyo tribe). On his sickbed, Betsuyaku was trying to settle the tribe’s ‘conflict over words’ wherein they were resisting modern society through ‘silence’.
In his plays, Betsuyaku included numerous characters who, while being pushed to the margins of society, continue to endure without voicing their dissatisfaction. People showing resistance through ‘silence’, which was what the Soyosoyo tribe did, was an image that Betsuyaku depicted time and again, and it was Betsuyaku’s philosophy as a dramatist that he consistently upheld. Betsuyaku left us the following words.

My calculations begin with the question of how a professional artist can sustain his literary style, assuming the ironclad rule that the only way to be sincere to all worlds is to remain silent.

The key to unravelling this sentence, which reads as if it were a capitulation that acknowledges the powerlessness of words, may be found all the way back in the words of Shozo Uehara, a junior high school teacher of his.

It’s not the apple that is beautiful. What’s beautiful is that it’s there.

It is believed that Betsuyaku valued these words throughout his life. ‘Silence’ is not an abandonment of weaving words. It is the determination and resolution to sincerely communicate no more than the ‘presence’ of a human being. So, how did Betsuyaku put this into practice by ‘writing’ ‘silence’?
In this exhibition, we go back to his boyhood to explore the origins of his creative work and trace the deviations he made on his path towards the final challenge of Soyosoyo-zoku Densetsu (legend of the Soyosoyo tribe). We want to think about how Betsuyaku constructed his dramaturgy and what questions he asked society through his creative work during his 82 years on this earth.

Planning and Exhibition Composition Member
Itsuki Umeyama(Associate Professor, Kinki University)

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