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Making of Minoru Betsuyaku: From His Unpublished First Play to the Soyosoyo Tribe

Welcome Message

This exhibition displays new sources to trace the trajectory of Minoru Betsuyaku, who greatly influenced Japanese contemporary theatre and regrettably passed away last year, until he solidified his foothold as a dramatist.
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum received donations of vast volumes of drafts and other materials on two occasions: once when Betsuyaku was still alive and once after his passing. These included a large number of sources that are extremely valuable for knowing how the dramatist Betsuyaku came to be. In this exhibition, I would like to join you in following the history of the words of Betsuyaku, as he transformed from a boy into an adult and eventually became a dramatist.
In particular, we have several writings never before shown that will provide us with vicarious experiences of the moment the dramatist Betsuyaku was born, including as many as four self-penned manuscripts of ‘Hokuro Soseiji’ (hokuro sausages), known as his unpublished first play, and the prose text ‘Akai Tsuki’ (red moon), which served as the basis for his early masterpiece Zo (the elephant).
Betsuyaku always provided insights into the invisible structures behind crime and social problems and listened to the quiet voices of those who live modestly on the peripheries of society. Those people were called the ‘Soyosoyo tribe’ and were represented as proud people of strong will and determination who reject cheap sympathy. Betsuyaku continued to write the epic history of the ‘Soyosoyo tribe’ through his lifework that was Soyosoyo-zoku Densetsu (legend of the Soyosoyo tribe). In this exhibition, you will find a map of the area around ‘Oumi’ which appears in Soyosoyo-zoku Densetsu. The map is thought to be drawn by Betsuyaku himself and we explore the earnest feelings that Betsuyaku poured into the ‘Soyosoyo tribe’.
In the early 1970s, Betsuyaku wrote Machi to Hikosen (town and airship), which almost seems to predict the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that we can lean in and hear the voice of Betsuyaku as he continues to ask us many questions.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone, including Rei Betsuyaku, who offered great assistance for this exhibition, as well as to all visitors.

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University
Minako Okamuro, Director

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