Hanafuda Denki 2012 World Tour
RYUZANJI COMPANY "HANAFUDA DENKI" WORLD TOUR 2012
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe
- The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC)
- Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival
- Vancouver International Fringe Festival
About the play
Hanafuda Denki was written by Shuji Terayama (1935-1983) and first performed by his theatre company Tenjo Sajiki in 1967.
French theatre director Nicolas Bataille (1926-2008) saw the performance in Tokyo in 1967 and he later said in his memoirs that it was the most exciting theatre experience of his life. Consequently, Bataille directed Hanafuda Denki for his French company and performed it at Théâtre de la Huchette in 1971. In addition to this, the play has attracted many directors and theatre creators over the years, and it has been performed repeatedly by various theatre companies. Terayama’s rhetorical words have never lost their momentum and they still have an enormous impact on today’s audiences.
The director Saori Aoki specially focused on the line by Danjuro: “Remember - No one has ever escaped death!” and she created a splendid musical play, which cleverly depicted the contradicting aspects of human life and death.
A dead man, Danjuro, was making a brusque business in the dealing of death products, while a living boy Kitaro was enjoying his life through stealing some immaterial morals from other people. Gradually the audience becomes confused as to whether Danjuro is dead or Kitaro is really the dead person while other weird zombies wage a game of tag. These people’s different ideas of life and death become chaotic, and then the audience starts to ask itself: “what is death? And what is life, anyway?”
Can you stay alive after watching this performance?
The play is set in the Taisho Period (1912-1926) at a funeral parlour in the beggar's district of Tokyo. The funeral parlour is known as the “House of the Dead”. Though all members of the family of “House of the Dead” are dead, their only daughter Karuta falls in love with a living boy named Kitaro of the Graveyard (what an irony that a living person’s name is Kitaro of the Graveyard!) Falling in love with a living boy is an impermissible taboo, so it becomes a big issue among the family.
Next, Karuta’s father, the undertaker Danjuro, plans to let a handsome dead boy seduce Karuta and tries to take her into the world of the dead. A complicated game of tag between the world of the living and the world of the dead begins. Who wins the tag? Danjuro? Kitaro?? What turn of fate may be waiting for Karuta?
寺山修司 SHUJI TERAYAMA
Terayama was born in 1935, in Hirosaki City, Aomori, located in the northernmost of Japan’s main island. He had already become famous as a poet when he enrolled as a student at Tokyo's Waseda University Faculty of Education to study Japanese language and literature. In 1967, however, he dropped out of the university to establish an experimental theatre group called "Tenjo Sajiki" (The Top Floor Gallery). He went on to spearhead the avant-garde arts movement as both a playwright and theatre director. His controversial book "Throw Away Your Books, Run into the Streets!" attracted a number of young people to "Tenjo Sajiki", but it was bitterly criticized by conservative society in general. His masterpiece plays include; "A Blind Man's Letters" (1973), "Knock" (1975), "Chronicles of a Plague" (1975), and "Directions to Servants" (1978). His film creations include "Throw Away Your Books, Go Out into the Streets!" (1971) and “Death in the Country" (1974). He was also famous as a horse-racing and boxing commentator, and wrote several essays about those. Shuji Terayama died on May 4, 1983. A memorial museum dedicated to Terayama and his work was opened in Misawa City in 1997.