enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


【史実】【Historical Fact】

The establishment of real-life events and characters as the primary motif of a play is a practice that has been long-standing in theatre, especially so in New Theatre. In recent years however, it is hard not to notice the existence of a small group of playwrights that are proactively engaging with history within their plays. For example, Osada Ikue, leader of the theatre group “Tegami-za”, has recently garnered recognition for her plays based primarily upon major historical events, despite her origin being in writing musicals. Her skilful narration of the personal stories spilling from these major historical events has been received very well by critics. Furukawa Takeshi of “Gekidan Chocolate Cake” is another good example of a playwright that specializes in exploring history, where his plays act as a fresh analytical lens that allows new perspectives on famous historical events and personalities – an approach that has earned the support of an even wider audience demographic.

Recent happenings that have yet to even make the pages of history textbooks are being energetically discussed by veteran playwright Nagai Ai of the group “Nito-sha”, causing cracks to appear on what she portrays to be an inherently unreasonable societal system. By exploring actual issues directly without fear, such as the adhesion of mass media to the ruling political party, Nagai shakes her audience by mixing uplifting humour with heavy realities. Some issues, such as the political tensions in Okinawa regarding US military presence are explored and presented for discussion over several, often experimental perfromances by Sakate Yoji of “Rinko-gun”. On the other hand, Seto Yamami is working towards creating theatrical pieces that explores the attitude of personal responsibility and current events such as the politics of nuclear power in the unique context and cultural atmosphere of Japan. These directors and their respective plays refuse to be swallowed up by the larger, more traditional views on history.