enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


Contemporary “Shogyo Engeki”

“Shogyo engeki” (商業演劇; commercial theatre) refers to dramatic productions that are sponsored by private companies, including movie/drama producers and distributors such as Shochiku (松竹) and Toho (東宝) , talent agencies such as Horipro (ホリプロ) , and department store businesses such as Tokyu (東急) and Parco (パルコ). “Shogyo engeki” continues to produce works that combine commercial appeal with artistic merit.

One renowned director involved in “shogyo engeki” was Ninagawa Yukio. Ninagawa’s background lay in the “shingeki “(新劇; new drama) movement. However, he made his debut in “anguraengeki” (アングラ演劇; underground theatre); he ventured into “shogyo engeki” in 1974 with Nissay Theatre’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”. The production featured spectacular performances that left a profound impression on audiences. Ninagawa garnered international acclaim for the production, earning him the nickname Sekai no Ninagawa (Global Ninagawa).

One famous theatre company involved in “shogyo engeki“ is the Takarazuka Revue (宝塚歌劇団), whose members consist entirely of unmarried women. Since staging its debut show in 1914, Takarazuka Revue has forged a unique position in contemporary Japanese theatre and its productions continue to draw in audiences. Takarazuka Revue produces many actors who, after leaving the theatre company, go on to appear on stage as well as in movies and television programmes.

Other companies worth mentioning are the Shiki Theatre Company and the talent agency Johnny & Associates (ジャニーズ事務所), both of which have a cult following. By attracting mass audiences, “shogyo engeki” plays an important role in ensuring the diversity of Japanese theatre and broadening its horizons. Another genre that pulls in audiences is musical theatre. Shiki Theatre Company and Takarazuka Revue both own multiple venues, and they stage several foreign-origin and home-grown musicals throughout the year.

Recently, a new type of “shogyo engeki” has emerged called 2.5 “jigen myujikaru” (2.5次元ミュージカル; 2.5-dimensional musical), which is based on manga, anime, and video games. The genre has become so popular that it now has several dedicated theatres and is attracting growing interest from overseas.

Note: On the panels, as for the order of the name of the Japanese person, their family name is written first, and then their given name.