Construction all of these qualities are perfectly

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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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