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Making of Minoru Betsuyaku: From His Unpublished First Play to the Soyosoyo Tribe

Creative Notebooks

The creative notebooks, which occupy a corner of this exhibition, are filled with brilliant short works. Although the time of writing is unknown for some of the notebooks, many were written in the early to the mid-1960s. In 1958, after failing to get in the previous year, Betsuyaku was admitted to the political science course of the First Political Science and Economics Department at Waseda University, where he joined the Waseda Free Stage in the same year and was put in charge of production. In 1960, he was expelled from the university for non-payment of fees, and in 1961, he participated in anti-US base movements in Niijima. After working part-time at the Chuo Ward Branch of the Matsukawa Derailment Countermeasures Council, he became a secretary of the Port Branch of the Tokyo General Construction Workers Union and continued to write plays at a café after work. That same year, A to B to Hitori no Onna (A and B and a certain woman) was performed by the Waseda Free Stage, and at the end of the year, the Free Stage was formed. Zo (the elephant) was staged in 1962 as their first performance.
The notebooks written during these turning points sometimes contain poems and prose with illustrations. Some are unfinished or seem to be in the conceptual stage, while others are titled on the cover and are tailored like an anthology. Above all, it is interesting to get a glimpse of his self-consciousness as a writer in the words ‘Nobel Prize Nominee Akutagawa Prize Unnecessary’ that he wrote on the cover of ‘Sakuhin (Zakki)’ (works [miscellaneous notes]), which was written in 1960, the year he left the university. ‘Histery Note (Neta-bon)’ (material), which he also compiled in 1960, suggests that he envisioned works across genre boundaries, including not just poetry and prose but also from scenarios to rakugo. In addition, in a creative notebook titled ‘Kiroku: Bobiroku’ (record: notes to self) (1961), we find fragments that appear to be drafts such of A to B to Hitori no Onna and Zo. This is a valuable source for knowing the process leading to their completion.

« Meeting Friends and an Interest in Painting | Constructing Dramaturgy »