enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館



The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent nuclear plant meltdown was an illuminating event that cast a light of unreliability and distrust on the government. In the aftermath of the 2016 Yamayuri care home scandal, the growth of a violently discriminatory mentality was made apparent to the public. With economic gaps widening and social security becoming an increasingly narrow platform to balance upon, it seems more likely that one would become a member of the socially vulnerable demographic, rather than to avoid finding themselves in a position of vulnerability. The practice of carefully absorbing this current societal atmosphere and embedding it into the process of creating a script has become a much more commonplace activity among playwrights in recent years. It is crucial to note that the key characteristic of these plays is not to portray the socially vulnerable themselves, but to portray the world as seen by their eyes. The goal is not to emphasize the struggle of being a victim, but to say “yes we are weak, but so what?” or “We are weak and that is good”. The ultimate objective is to propagate this mentality that “to be weak is ok”, but to do so insistently.

Yamamoto Suguru of theatre collective “Hanchu-Yuei” focusses on those denied such things as justice, art, and love by the rules of society. Yuri Yamada of “Zeitaku Bimbou” and Hashimoto Ryu of “Ungezeifer” meanwhile set their sights on temporary employees and those that struggle cooperating with people and environment that surrounds them while Yamamoto Kensuke of “Jien-sha” talks exclusively to the small late-night radio community. Ikeda Ryo of “Yuumei” creates scripts centred on bullying at school or power harassment in the home environment whilst Yamamoto Masanori of “Kotori-kai” and Nakajima Shiori of “Ii-henji” discuss topics that specifically have no interest whatsoever to the majority of regular people, and other insignificant changes in society. All of the above work in their own ways to capture the delicate details of life often left behind by society’s prioritization of economics, rationality, and productivity.

The root of all these playwrights and their respective concepts can be traced back to Iwai Hideto, who dramatized his own experiences as a recluse, or his childhood dominated by his violently dictatorial father. Despite the highly personal nature of his plays, the abundance of comments from the audience along the lines of “How does Iwai Hideto understand my home environment?” illustrates the sheer universality his performances.