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Unformatted text preview: the war, though on admittedly
much smaller scales and not before overcoming their own particular postwar traumas.
The basis of shingeki since its inception has been the theatrical company rather than the independent producer as in American theatre. During the war there was only one active company—the Literary Theatre
(Bungakuza)—and the number of theatre houses accessible to it was
severely reduced by bombing raids. Peace brought a feeling of theatrical
revolution within shingeki as part of the general hope that accompanied
the end of the war.
But the most fundamental difficulties confronting shingeki in the postwar period were the same that had always bedeviled it. Foremost was the
fact that the very word for theatre—engeki—overwhelmingly connoted to
the Japanese a presentational rather than representational kind of performing art. Specifically, it meant kabuki, and the shingeki people had
been obliged from the first to try to distinguish theirs as a “new” or
“modern” theatre. Even as shingeki struggled to establish its own acting
and theatrical traditions, it was upstaged by a rapidly rising film industry, which was able to advance just a step behind the cinema in the West
to become a truly modern, realistic theatre of representation in its own
right. Still another difficulty encountered by shingeki in its early stages of
development was the deep rift that arose between those who wished to
keep it an exclusively literary or theatrical medium and those who aspired
to transform it into an ideological (kannen-teki) form of theatre. This
led, as we have noticed, to the dominance in shingeki of proletarian
writers in the late 1920s and the 1930s and to its suppression by the
military authorities. Once again, in the postwar period, political ideology
became a source of contention within shingeki.
If shingeki’s difficulties remained the same after the war, some of its
attempted solutions also evoked a familiar feeling. One of the means by
which shingeki sought to deal with poor attendance figures, for example,
was to stage Western plays in translation, including Shakespeare’s A Mid...
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- Spring '13