enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


The 1990s

In 1991, Japan’s asset price bubble burst. This event prompted major changes among Japanese theatres. Many companies withdrew from their art funding programmes. Some theatres started to forge new ties with national and local governments. For example, some local governments established dedicated arts venues and appointed artistic directors. It was also in this period that small theatres became eligible for arts subsidies. Against this backdrop, Tokyo’s New National Theatre opened its doors in 1997.

In contrast to the frantic performances of the 1980s, the 1990s featured a calmer form of theatre known as “shizukana engeki” (静かな演劇; quiet theatre). Dispensing with extravagance, playwrights focused on portraying everyday situations with realism. Such playwrights included Iwamatsu Ryo, who composed and staged plays for Gekidan Kandenchi (劇団東京乾電池), Miyazawa Akio of the Yuenchi Saisei Jigyodan (遊園地再生事業団), Hirata Oriza of SEINENDAN (青年団), Hasegawa Koji of Hirosaki Gekijo (弘前劇場), and Matsuda Masataka of Gekijo Jiku (時空劇場; later known as Marebito no Kai [マレビトの会]).

The 1990s also gave rise to a number of theatre companies and playwrights that continue to attract large audiences today. The 1990s also gave rise to playwrights such as Mitani Koki, whose well-made comedies became popular on TV. The decade also gave rise to theatre companies that continue to attract large audiences today. One example is Otona Keikaku (大人計画), the troupe of Matsuo Suzuki, whose plays lampooned the works of humanity with acerbic wit. Another example is Nylon 100°C, the troupe of Keralino Sandorovich (Kobayashi Kazuma), who is known for his nonsense comedy. One other example is Gekidan☆Shinkansen (劇団☆新感線), whose playwrights include Inoue Hidenori and Nakajima Kazuki, both known for their manga-oriented worldview and flamboyant performances.

Contemporary dance developed in various ways during the 1990s. This development can be traced back to the late 1980s. For example, contemporary dance attracted the Japanese public’s attention when Teshigawara Saburo won the “Concours de Bagnolet” Innovation Award in 1986. Furthermore, many overseas dancers were invited to perform in Japan during the asset bubble years of the 80s, leading to the various developments in contemporary dance in the next decade

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.